For anyone who regularly chooses cannabis over alcohol, 420 is already the de facto happy hour. Finally, the rest of the world is catching up.
Upscale establishments in both LA and San Francisco have launched happy hours beginning at 420 p.m., a sign of cannabis’s ever-expanding place in mainstream consciousness. EdiBOL, in downtown LA, the Happy 420 Hour menu features deep-fried bites (“Munchabols”—all priced at $4.20) and cocktails named after cannabis strains (complete, we noticed during a recent visit, with strain descriptors—relaxed, uplifted, etc.—from the Leafly pages for each drink’s namesake strain). The menu runs from 4:20 to 7:00 p.m. every weekday.
More recently, in June, San Francisco’s beloved Flore—the site of the auspicious first meeting between famed cannabis activists Dennis Peron and Mary Jane “Brownie Mary” Rathbun, and a hub for revolutionary rethinking of cannabis since the 1970s—launched a CBD-and-terpene-infused cannabis cocktail/mocktail menu (supported with a selection of happy hour munchies to go with them, and augmented with CBD-infused beer on tap). The happy hour pays homage to the café’s (and more generally, the Castro neighborhood’s) rich history and significance in cannabis history. Each of the 16 drinks on the menu contains a low dose of CBD and terpenes that mimic specific cannabis strains. The menu runs from 4:20 to 7:20 p.m. on weekdays (though Flore is considering cutting the happy hour off at 7:10 in a nod to the dabbing community).
Why the Shift Matters
What’s notable about this evidence of a shift toward daily celebrations of 4:20 in non-cannabis establishments is that the concept of happy hour as we know it has long been associated with the most popular substances of the day. The idea of an after-work drinking occasion originated when absinthe was at the height of its popularity in Europe in the 1800s, and was originally called l’heure vert: The Green Hour (after the color of the drink congregated over). After absinthe fell out of favor, the same concept was rebranded as happy hour during the Prohibition era, and again was associated with the hot commodity of the day: alcohol more generally. Now, as cannabis consumption and acceptance of it both continue to skyrocket, cannabis’s own version of happy hour—4:20—may be the new five o’clock.
Although the alcohol is still present, elements of cannabis culture as well as cannabis itself are defining this new trend. “[Before], folks were getting up from the table to go smoke a joint and we needed to solve that—how are people going to consume and enjoy their cannabis and socialize over it?” explains Aaron Silverman, one of two co-owners of Flore. “Starting with cannabis-infused cocktails help bridge that gap over to socialization and food,” agrees Terrance Alan, Flore’s other co-founder. “Menu items on the munchie menu … not only go well with our new drinks [but] resonate with the cannabis community.”
Copious dispensaries, of course, have celebrated 4:20 as a happy hour for years: Greenway Marijuana in Port Orchard, WA, for instance, offers daily specials starting at 4:20 and running until 8:00 p.m. Bud and breakfasts also get in on the fun: Maine’s utterly charming 200-year-old Laughing Grass Inn, which runs “Maine’s premier bud and breakfast event from August to September,” offers a complimentary 4:20 happy hour during the event featuring a bud bar and edibles at no extra cost. Occasionally, even bars will throw events for the 4/20 holiday itself, like Florida’s Square Grouper Bar and Grill did (sadly, no cannabis was served). But besides being a cannabis promotional tool and a novelty for those outside the industry, 4:20 has long been under-celebrated.
However, with the mainstream adaptation of cannabis’s signature time as the new daily moment to kick back and hang out, cannabis offers us all something new: Not only does the herb continue to bring cannabis consumers together, cannabis culture now indirectly offers non-consumers a reason to join in and chill, with or without the flower itself.
How to 420 at Flore and ediBOL
If you visit either California city, both cafés are must-visits. Light, bright, laid-back ediBOL is the perfect place to hang after a smoke sesh—particularly because the $4.20 munchie menu is fantastic. Do not miss the “stoned-ground” corn pops with chipotle crema: these slightly spicy, savory-sweet fried food clouds check every box on the must-have munchie characteristics list. The spiced buttermilk fried chicken sliders are pretty amazing too, as is the ultra-rich PB&J (pork belly, fig jam, and lemon gremolata)—or you can just go the route I went and order the entire menu, for less than the price than two craft cocktails anywhere else. The $6 drinks pay tribute to illustrious strains from Tangie to Blackberry Kush—we recommend diving into a lively, lightly spiced Pineapple Express, which sports a tropical flavor palate and elements of mango, lime, jinra, and ginger.
At Flore, don’t miss the Blood Orange Mojito—a favorite of owner Aaron Silverman, for one—featuring mint-infused spiced rum, blood orange bitters, citrus, soda, hemp-derived CBD sourced from Canada, and cannabis-derived terpenes that mirror the profile of powerhouse sativa Jack Herer. You’ll also find CBD-infused IPA on tap (a feat of chemistry that required help from a Ph.D chemist—you won’t see this everywhere), and the zero-proof Thai Tea on Ice, paired with elements of Sour Diesel, is another (booze-free) winner. Don’t forget that munchie menu, either—buffalo-blue cheese tater tots and Cool Ranch Dorito-crusted chicken fingers aren’t going to eat themselves.