Dry January is drawing to a close, but for makers of cannabis spirits, offering consumers an alternative to alcohol is a priority all year long.

David Mukpo, co-founder and CEO of Pamos Beverage Co., pointed to how cannabis beverages can easily translate to people seeking to reduce or eliminate their alcohol intake.

“In an industry that is sometimes unapproachable to large swathes of the population, we wanted to put a product and a form factor that met people where they already are,” he said. “The most ubiquitous thing in the world is a glass in your hand, so (we wanted to) give them something that they could understand in accordance with other vices in the world.” 

Consumers appear to turn to cannabis beverages and alcohol for similar reasons, according to BDSA. Roughly half of beverage consumers seek to relax and feel mellow, with other significant need cases including managing anxiety, having fun, being happy and relieving boredom.

Cannabis beverages and cannabis spirits can also help people replicate the social component of alcohol consumption.

“It puts you in a more social environment,” Mukpo said. “I think that half of the reason people drink often is it’s just a social crutch. It gives you that ability to go back to your glass, back to the bar. We want to mimic that same ritual with what we do with Pamos.”

Flavor and dosing

Pamos debuted in California’s cannabis market in 2021. Packaged in a 750 ml bottle with 16 servings, Pamos is available in two dosage options. The microdose option includes 2 mg THC and 2 mg CBD per 1.5 oz. shot, while the low-dose option features 6 mg THC and 2 mg THC per shot.

Pamos Microdose Spirit

Mukpo said the brand wanted to allow people to customize their doses, based on personal preference and the number of drinks they plan to consume in each sitting.

“We’re not here to be neither judgemental nor specific about what doses people should use,” he said. “Cannabis affects all of our bodies completely differently. If you look at our dispensary products, we range from 2 mg to 100 mg. Our belief is that we want to have premium products that are made well in the hands of people who have all sorts of tolerances.”

In terms of flavor, Mukpo described developing Pamos as a “fun challenge,” since the brand aims to offer a clean, distinct product that can easily be incorporated into mixed drinks. Pamos features bright citrus flavors up front, with complex, aromatic bitters at the back, Mukpo said.

“You’re going to taste Pamos through that cocktail in every sip you get, which really creates a unique drinking experience,” he said.

Nowadays, a hemp-infused spirit, debuted in 2023. Co-founders Anthony Puterman and Justin Tidwell said they aim to offer the “familiarity of traditional spirit consumption without the drawbacks associated with alcohol.”

Nowadays spirit

The spirit is also available in two dosing options. Nowadays Micro Dose features 2 mg THC per 1.5 oz. shot, while Nowadays Low Dose features 6 mg THC per shot. 

“We were dedicated to creating a product that avoids the typical weed taste associated with THC-derived beverages,” they said. “Our team engaged in extensive testing, exploring various approaches to ensure that the final product delivers a refreshing and distinctive profile without the characteristic taste often linked to cannabis-infused drinks. By meticulously blending natural fruit flavors with a crisp finish, we achieved a unique taste that sets it apart in the market.”

Further expansion

Earlier this month, Nowadays debuted a 10 mg bottle to give consumers even more flexibility in dosing.

“The addition of the 10 mg variation expands our offerings, giving consumers a broader range of choices to match their preferences and elevate their overall experience according to their desired THC level,” Puterman and Tidwell said.

Meanwhile, cannabis-infused Pamos remains available in the dispensary channel, but the brand has also begun offering hemp-infused versions of the spirit. Though Mukpo was hesitant to move into the hemp space, doing so has allowed the Pamos brand to expand on its mission. 

Hemp-infused Pamos is currently available in liquor stores, grocery stores, and bars, and it’ll soon be sold at live sporting venues.

“My goal with Pamos from the beginning was to create accessibility to an alternative to alcohol in any way I could,” Mukpo said. “That started for us at the dispensary level, but once we saw the opportunity to put Pamos where, frankly, it belongs — which is next to alcohol — that opportunity was too important for us to pass up.” 

Pamos Raspberry Long Island Iced Tea Spritz

Last year, the brand launched Pamos Spritz, canned ready-to-drink cocktails with Pamos as the base. Mukpo said the brand worked with some of the best mixologists in the country to develop beverages inspired by popular cocktails. Available with either 2 mg, 5 mg or 10 mg of hemp-derived THC, Pamos Spritzes are available in Peach & Guava Bellini, Raspberry Long Island Iced Tea and Tropical Mai Tai varieties. 

Single shots of Pamos will be available soon, Mukpo added.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for the cannabis beverage space,” he said. “From our corner of that space, everything we want to do is introduce people to cannabis through cannabis cocktails.”