Food & DrinkSide Dish

Max & Lola Bodega Jump on the CBD Train with New Cocktails

There isn’t much you can’t do with CBD, and with the recent nationwide legalization of hemp — and hemp extracts like cannabidiol — it seems like the list is growing by the second. As CBD products pop up throughout Charlotte, the folks at Max and Lola Bodega have jumped on the opportunity by mixing up some CBD-infused wine cocktails aimed at helping you relax or maybe just avoid that hangover.

Queen City Nerve sat down with owner Holly Rodriguez and discussed cocktails, the benefits of CBD and why South End’s Gold District was the perfect place to set up shop.

Holly Rodriguez

Queen City Nerve: What made you decide to open up a bodega here in South End?

Holly Rodriguez: This has been two years in the works with my partner, and we live four blocks from here. So this was the route that we walked our dogs Max and Lola every day, and we just loved it. The bodega used to be [an auto body shop] that we brought our cars to, so we’ve known the area for a while.

We’ve been living here six or seven years now, and we always talked about what was missing. There was really nowhere to pick up some wine, get some beer and hang out on this side of South End, everything was closer to South Boulevard, and that’s how it started. [We said], “What if we do it? Why not? Leave our corporate jobs behind and do all that.” It took like two years to finalize, get this place and August 18th last year we opened.

How significant is it to you that your bodega is in an area where there are predominantly minority-owned businesses?

It’s a really big significance to me because I am black, I’m also Hispanic and Latina, and I’m a woman. So it’s a trifecta of everything. But it’s super motivating to be in a place where I’m seeing a lot more minorities and more women business owners, especially younger people. I’m super excited about that and it motivates me. It’s like, “Oh, if they can do it so can I.”

CBD-infused products have a heavy presence in your store currently. Why did you decide to start selling them?

In the summer, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, so we were looking for ways for her to deal with her radiation and chemotherapy. We started the CBD with her, and it helped her out so much.

It was around the time we were opening, so we were like, “What if we sell this, can we sell it?” So we started researching different products — a lot of online researching, talking to different friends and some people at the hospital where my mom was, and we found out that it was going to be 100 percent legal in all 50 states. So we started selling it here and finding different products, everything from edibles to oils.

How did the CBD-infused cocktails come about?

Since we don’t have a liquor license, everything we have is either wine or beer, and actually you get a better effect of the CBD with lower alcohol percentages. [We were] seeing how well our kombucha was doing on tap and [we asked], “What if we add prosecco to the kombucha?”

So we started with that and then we said, “Let’s do mimosas,” and we got organic orange juice and organic pineapple juices and we started playing around with things. Customers asked, “What if you do CBD sangrias?” and it went from there. There’s a lot of customer requests. We’re always mixing it up, and every week it’s a new drink.

The line of CBD cocktails at Max & Lola Bodega.

Do you source your CBD locally?

We have local people such as Tar Heal Pharms, and they opened Lifted, which is a [CBD] dispensary. They’re from Matthews, so super local. Pure Relief is also from Charlotte. We’re buying a lot of stuff locally, and then also products like VYBES from L.A., [and] some other products from Oregon, too.

Is your new focus on CBD bringing in new customers?

There’s people that are coming in now specifically for the CBD and they’re like, “Oh, you guys also have wine and beer.” It’s like bringing in people that are for the CBD but they get to see everything else. A lot of people are coming in for the relief that CBD provides.

People that are working construction, and a lot of the Crossfit community are coming in because it has anti-inflammatory properties, so it helps them in that way they can just pick up something quick without necessarily having to get a full spectrum oil. They can start off small and get a kombucha, get some gummies — you know, ease your way into it.

What are some of the benefits of the products you sell?

CBD has a little bit for everyone, whether you have issues with insomnia and that’s what you’re looking for, we have something for that; or if your back hurts, we have something for that, too. It helps with so many daily body issues. It’s a lifestyle thing. I don’t want people to think it’s medicine, [because] I use it all day. I put it in my coffee, I drink it in kombucha during the day and at night I take some gummies. It’s just like a daily routine thing.

Here, it’s no pressure, you come in and most of the time people ask, “So what do I do?” and I’m like, “Try some gummies out.” It’s not a big investment, and most of the time they’re back in within two to three days and they’re like, “Okay, let me get more gummies,” or, “Let me try oil this time.” You have control over it; how much you want to take, how you want to feel and what works best for you.

Especially with the CBD cocktails, a lot of people are saying, “The next day I didn’t feel hungover or super groggy like I normally do. I felt fine, I felt relaxed.” And you want that; it’s a good relaxing, chill feel. Even when you drink, you want to drink to relax and enjoy, and all of our cocktails are wine cocktails so they kind of go together well.

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