The City Magazine Since 1975

Serving up CBD-infused cocktails at High Rise Beverage Co.’s Cannabis Dry Bar

Serving up CBD-infused cocktails at High Rise Beverage Co.’s Cannabis Dry Bar
January 2024
PHOTOGRAPHER: 

The James Island bar caters to patrons seeking an alternative to alcohol



At Cannabis Dry Bar, Matt Skinner and his wife, Libiss, offer CBD-infused cocktails to patrons who want a chill place to hang out without the pressure to drink alcohol. Find out how the founders of Charleston Hemp Collective have expanded their business to include High Rise Beverage Co. and now the James Island bar.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 27: Percentage of Gen Z that says they never drink alcohol 
  • $11 billion: The US market value of the nonalcoholic drink sector last year
  • 1,000 percent: High Rise’s production growth in 2023
  • 300: The approximate number of retailers selling High Rise in Charleston

While South Carolina is not one of the many states that has legalized the medical use of marijuana, it is home to High Rise Beverage Co., one of the fastest-growing regional brands associated with the cannabidiol compound popularly called CBD.

As CBD gained prominence in the mid-2010s, cofounder Libiss Skinner, who suffers from ulcerative colitis (also called inflammatory bowel disease), tried taking it for her symptoms. The natural remedy helped, inspiring Libiss and her husband, Matt, to develop better ways of consuming CBD. 

The couple partnered with an organic hemp farm in Boone, North Carolina. In 2019, when hemp-derived CBD was legalized in South Carolina, they launched the Charleston Hemp Collective, offering topical and tincture CBD applications, as well as gummies and infused honey. A storefront on King Street led to an expansion to Savannah, followed by a CBD-infused seltzer, High Rise. The brand initially used a synthetic version of THC known as delta-8 that gained prominence during the pandemic. They’ve since shifted exclusively to the more natural (and legal) delta-9. 

The couple’s production of High Rise seltzers increased 1,000 percent in 2023, quickly outgrowing its capabilities in Boone. They’re currently consolidating to a single facility in Charlotte. High Rise’s THC and CBD extracts are nano-infused and water soluble, allowing for quick absorption, and flavored with fruit puree. Twelve-ounce cans in flavors like blackberry, grapefruit, and pineapple are available across the Southeast, including at upscale Charleston restaurants like Husk and Halls Chophouse. “Those relationships show how the stigma is breaking,” says Matt. “There was this perception that cannabis is just for stoners, but our focus from day one has been medicinal.” 

Libiss and Matt Skinner opened their Cannabis Dry Bar on James Island in August, offering cocktails infused with CBD.

The best place to try High Rise may be at the brand’s Cannabis Dry Bar on James Island, where guests enjoy cocktails designed by Herd Provisions bar manager Jules Schneider. The experience replicates a bar environment, with jungle-like wallpaper, neon lights, and vintage vinyl spinning on the turntable, but without the pressure to drink alcohol. “So many people have said, ‘I quit drinking, but I didn’t want to lose my social life,’” Matt says. 

Because many customers are looking for a buzz but not inebriation, the 32-seat bar’s cocktails average about two milligrams of THC per pour, allowing patrons to pace themselves and enjoy two to three drinks. “There’s a sweet spot that allows people to have the experience they’re looking for,” he says. 

The Dry Bar brand hopes to open a second location in Wild Dunes this year and is exploring opportunities in Tennessee. They’ve formed a partnership with Sony Music Nashville to provide nonalcoholic beverages at concerts, at a time when alcoholism and mental health are national conversations. High Rise is also launching a botanicals line with flavors such as juniper grapefruit in eight-ounce cans, like a ready-to-drink cocktail. “It’s a special time, and we’ve just scratched the surface,” Matt says. “Our challenge to ourselves is to keep the culture alive as we grow. We care about everything that goes into every product and every can, and our message is always about how this can help you from a medicinal standpoint.”