Those of us who remember buying and enjoying cannabis decades ago might find this new world of marijuana quite fascinating. First, it’s now legal in many states, including Maine and Massachusetts, so we need not worry about winding up in the slammer if we follow the rules.
And now, instead of inhaling smoke from burning the dried “flower” in a joint, pipe or bong, we can enjoy cannabis in a tincture dropped on the tongue, topical lotions and in edibles like cute little gummy candies. Or, in a BBQ sauce slathered on a rack of ribs.
Now, enterprising and talented chefs like Kittery’s Zack Squier are applying their cooking skills and innovation to creating food and drink containing cannabis. His Squier’s Specialty Edibles which includes savory sauces, elixirs and cooking products start with farm-fresh ingredients.
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“In the edible market everywhere, not just in Maine, there are many products that I wouldn’t eat if they didn’t have cannabis in it, so why would I eat them with cannabis? I wanted to really deliver something that has just as much thought, as much care into the food, as well as the cannabis.”
Squier, a Portsmouth High School grad who in the past was chef and partner at now closed Fuki in Portsmouth, Umami in Northwood and more recently, Stoneface Brewery in Newington, developed a line of savory sauces including Mango-Honey BBQ Sauce for those ribs, Sweet Chili Sriracha, and for cooking and salad dressings Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. But, he said, he’s focusing on the drink mixers which he said are selling very well and are a good alternative to alcohol.
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“Those are what I’ve been doing really well. Drinking is a big part of the restaurant industry and it’s not a healthy lifestyle. I’m trying to get away from that, so it’s nice to be able to go home and make myself a cocktail, but it has no alcohol in it. You also still have that social aspect, too, for people wanting to go to parties and don’t drink alcohol. They can have a cannabis cocktail with my products and feel l like they’re sipping on something and not just the person drinking water or soda in the room.”
Still, it was those savory sauces that guided him to the drink products.
“I really started coming at it from the chef side, the savory side. I launched the sriracha and barbecue sauce and I did a cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, an infused cranberry orange kind of chutney. I gave people a recipe with it just in case they don’t use it all at the dinner table so I put out a drink recipe using it and the feedback on that was crazy. They asked me for more cranberry sauce, but that was a holiday thing so I thought, ‘Maybe I have something with these drink mixers that are actually made from real fruit.’”
For his clementine elixir, Squier starts with 80 pounds of clementines and the mango is made from whole fruit rather than premade purees and concentrates or fillers. All of his products are made with Maine grown full spectrum oil.
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“I wanted to give people something that isn’t a lemonade, because that’s really all there is on the market. I wanted to give people something that actually has some quality to it.”
Squier said that unlike experiences in the past, consumers are able to carefully gauge just how much cannabis they are consuming when sipping his Pink Pineapple Drink Mixer made from fresh pineapple, pink grapefruit, lemons, raspberries & organic sugarcane or the Maine blueberry-lemon available in 200 mg and 400 mg strengths.
“It really hits all markets on the dosage and what people are comfortable taking,” said Squier. “I feel like a lot of people have a bad depiction of edibles because they ate a brownie in high school that was made by someone who has no idea how much cannabis is in it. It’s probably a thousand milligrams and they had a terrible experience. I’ve been there. But now, people are doing so professionally, you can regulate just how much cannabis you are getting. You can start out with 2.5 milligrams and you kind of know what you’re getting into or you can go to a hundred milligrams.”
He said that in addition to more accurate dosing, edibles are good for those who don’t want to inhale smoke. Ingesting edibles also gives a smoother, mellower effect, he said.
Currently, Squier’s Specialty Edibles are being carried at Mark’s Organix Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Kittery and while Squier said he’s looking to branch out into the also legal recreational or adult-use cannabis market, that may take some time.
“It’s just medical right now. I am getting in the adult use market soon, but it’s hard to find a space that is zoned for this. It is a brand new market really. The medical has been established for a long time, but the recreational is really just getting started, so getting that up and running is a little more challenging than the medical, but it is coming.”
Also coming is a line of products containing CBD for those who want don’t want the psychoactive effects of THC, but still want the benefits from a cannabinoid. He said he’d like to expand his savory sauce and drink product line to other states in New England, continuing his goal to enhance plant-based medicine through chef-crafted products, recipes, and events.
And while cannabis products can’t be consumed on premises at a dispensary in Maine or even in a majority of the states in the U.S., he also envisions a day when sitting at a bar stool or in a lounge or restaurant means ordering from a cannabis cocktail menu or enjoying an entire meal made up of dishes containing cannabis.
“It’s a possibility. It will take time to loosen up the laws because right now you can’t buy something then eat or drink it on site, but those laws change. That’s definitely something I want to get into. Obviously being a chef, my real passion is food and cooking, so I really want to get into doing infused dinners and cool stuff like that, get back into my cooking roots, you know, once this is established.”
Squier’s Pink Pineapple Paloma
25 mg per drink
1 oz. Squier’s Pink Pineapple Elixir
½ oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
6 oz Sparkling water
Thinly sliced limes for garnish
Ice for serving
Combine Squier’s Pink Pineapple Elixir and grapefruit juice into 12 oz. glass over ice, stir to combine.
Add sparkling water and lime slices. Stir and enjoy!
Budtenders Tip: Adjust Elixir for preferred dose. For an extra kick, try Squier’s Extra Strength.
Find out more about Squier’s Specialty Edibles at www.squiersedibles.com.
Squier’s Specialty Edibles are available to Medical Marijuana patients at Mark’s Organix, 134 State Road, Kittery, Maine (207) 475-6247 and by visiting marksorganix.com.
Rachel Forrest is a former restaurant owner, reviewer and Seacoast resident, who now lives in Austin, Texas and Belize. She can be reached at email@example.com.