Of all the things friends gather to share, cannabis and chocolate are both among the most convivial. What better way to harness their effects than by hosting a pairing party? Whether you’re with your best friends relishing that happy high that chocolate and cannabis combine to provide, or getting giggly with a group of new acquaintances, this event is hip, unique, and guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of every attendee.
To teach us how to host the perfect chocolate and cannabis pairing event, we brought in professional chocolatier Claire McKenzie of E’Claire Chocolates. In addition to handcrafting exceptional infused truffles, McKenzie offers in-home chocolate and cannabis tasting parties. Who’s participating? Everyone from canna-loving twenty-somethings to suburban soccer moms – “I even had an inquiry from a church group recently,” McKenzie recalls. Our team, for one, very happily participated in one of these in-home parties on a sunny Friday afternoon. People love them because the combination of chocolate and cannabis produces an especially enjoyable entourage effect: chocolate contains anandamide, also known as “the bliss chemical,” and when it’s combined with cannabis it catalyzes a more elevated experience.
In short, McKenzie argues that the only thing that can make chocolate better is cannabis, and we bet your guests will feel the same way. Ready to be the hostess with the mostess? From choosing your strains to setting the scene, here’s how to do it right from start to finish.
Prep for Your Pairing Party
Before you get started, you’ve got a few things to figure out.
Guest list: Who are you planning to invite? Make it a group of friends you’d enjoy having in any given smoke sesh, and keep it small – think 10 or less.
Invites: A Facebook event is effortless, but postcards are also easy and fun, and the cents you spend on stamps will pay back in attendees’ excitement. Jot the whats, whens, and wheres of your event down on these cute, classy cannabis postcards.
Cannabis strains: Pick three to four strains and build your party around them. “We always begin with cannabis – at our events, it leads everything,” says Kendal Norris, founder of Mason Jar Event Group, whose cannabis-infused parties have been called the swankiest in America. Pro tip: the Leafly strain explorer makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, whether you want something that tastes like strawberries, melts social awkwardness, or gives you the giggles.
Set Up Your Space
Guests’ senses will be heightened by cannabis, so they’re going to love a thoughtful and comfortable setup.
Furniture and ambiance: You’ll want comfortable seating and plenty of table space so guests can relax and spread out their water, chocolate, and tasting notes in front of them. Turn on laid-back background music and minimize irrelevant distractions.
Décor: Pick a color scheme that complements the brown of the chocolate. Hang up a couple maps – one of the cocoa belt region around the equator, and one showing where your cannabis was grown – and use thumbtacks to pinpoint the provenance of what you’re sampling.
Chocolate bars and smell jars: Break up each type of chocolate into equal pieces and set them out on pretty plates on a long table. Remove one nug from each package of flower and place it in a petite Mason jar to create a smell jar. Keep one bar of each type, and some of each strain, in its packaging to set out for guests to peruse.
Labels: Make kraft paper cards to indicate strain and chocolate types, plus any specifics you’d like to note (indicas versus sativas, dark versus milk chocolate, and so on). Print out information on the strains you’ll be sampling and set it out for guests to leaf through.
Stock Up on Strains and Supplies
You'll want to be as prepared as possible before the party starts — once you start consuming, you may be too impaired to drive out for more supplies if you run out of anything too soon.
Consumption method: Vaporizers that support dry herb work best for pairing parties because they let you taste the flower’s full flavor. If you don’t own a good one, ask a friend to bring theirs, or use this guide to invest in your own.
What to provide: You’ll want a battery charger for the vape, at least one grinder (or a handy grinder substitute), eye drops on hand, plenty of water for each attendee, and peppercorns nearby in case anyone overindulges. Also, provide a pencil and a small tasting notebook or notepad for each guest.
Buying the cannabis: Pick up between one and two grams of cannabis per person (total, not of each strain). You don’t need to take a huge hit of everything– think wine tasting sips, not gulps.
Buying the chocolate: You’ve already selected strains, now use our chocolate and cannabis pairing guide to pick the right chocolates. Aim for an ounce of each type per person, then buy an extra bar or two of each kind. Don’t worry about buying too much – when was the last time you saw leftover chocolate at a cannabis party?
Food to serve: Steer clear of spicy, garlicky, or intensely flavored snacks that will mess with your palate. Opt instead for berries, veggies, cheese and crackers, and charcuterie, and set out palate-cleansing snacks during the tasting (a plain baguette will do the trick).
Create an Itinerary
You’ve set the stage, now it's time for liftoff!
Allow at least two hours: Three or four hours is even better for a pairing party. Norris’s number one suggestion for entertaining with cannabis? “’Start low, go slow!’”
Snack first: If you’re starving when you take the first hit, your chocolate samples will quickly become munchies.
One thing at a time: Talk through each cannabis and chocolate type with the group before sampling. Take a whiff of each strain, then a whiff of each chocolate. Write tasting notes and discuss. Try the chocolates by themselves. Finally, pass around the vaporizer – take a hit, place a bit of chocolate on your tongue, then exhale slowly as you savor, considering how the flavors interact. Mix and match chocolate types with different strains, and note your favorite combinations. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers – it’s all about what you like.
Wrap it all up: Once you’ve tasted your way through the lineup, cue up a movie or a backyard fire pit for post-pairing relaxation, or simply hang out and chat. This party is about more than just cannabis or chocolate; it’s about getting together, kicking back, and having a great time. As guests leave, send them on their way with party favors like a gram and a chocolate bar – and be sure that everyone has a safe ride home.
Photo credit: Sara Dilley