Most vegan restaurants have a similar vibe: Pony-tailed servers in half-buttoned linen shirts, nature scenes dotting the walls, and a menu that reads as if Tender Greens wrote a meatless, adjective-rich horoscope. But Gracias Madre—where your server might recommend dousing gorditas in cashew nacho cheese and coconut bacon—is flipping the script.
So, how do you create a cocktail list to match that vegan, healthy-but-indulgent feel? It might start with a handful of hemp seeds, a 12-inch bong, and a whole lot of tequila.
The newest addition to the Jason Eisner-run cocktail program is aptly called the Up in Smoke, featuring tequila blanco, house mosaic hopped cucumber soda, lemon, and celery bitters. Even though it comes with the hefty price tag of $25, you’re paying for a drink and a show. A bartender shows up right at your table with the “water pipe decanter” filled with the cocktail, a lighter, a smoking gun, and a glass garnished with cucumbers carved to unsubtly spell out “THC.”
(Disclaimer: There is no actual THC in this cocktail, and it will not get you intoxicated beyond the normal level of tequila.)
As the bartender explains the drink, they light up the bowl of hemp seeds and use the smoking gun to draw the smoke through the cocktail, infusing it with that slightly sulfuric but weirdly pleasant flavor. About 15 seconds in, the dining room starts to fill with hemp smoke and everyone turns toward your table to stare. How could they not?
The bartender finishes the drink by pouring it straight from the water pipe into your glass. And the drink—despite the procession and fanfare and totally-worth-it gimmicks—actually tastes good. The hemp seeds double down on the tequila’s smokiness and the hopped cucumber soda and celery bitters give the drink a complex vegetal quality. This may be the beginning of a bong-to-table cocktail revolution.