Liquid Chicks stoked about hemp vodka

Daniel MacEachern
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Facing a layoff from an engineering firm in Grande Prairie, a St. John’s woman found inspiration in a bottle of vodka.

Stephanie Cooney (left) of St. John's and Brenda Magnusson have launched Stoked vodka, a hemp-infused liquor now for sale in Alberta.

While having a couple of drinks last summer with a friend and former co-worker, Stephanie Keough Cooney tried an extra ingredient in a screwdriver.

“She had some liquid hemp in her fridge. We were just experimenting,” said Cooney, 31, back in St. John’s this week for a visit. “We put some of it in our drinks, and we liked it, and we thought, ‘What a great idea.’”

Without a job prospect, Cooney and her partner — Brenda Magnusson, also from Newfoundland, who was cut back at the same firm to one day a week — decided to make and market the vodka themselves. Thus was born Liquid Chicks, the women’s drink company, which just celebrated the launch of Stoked Vodka, a hemp-infused spirit, which she says is the first of its kind in North America.

“Hemp has a slight nutty, piney flavour. You don’t really taste it much in a vodka, but what happens is it makes the vodka really smooth, was what the result was,” she said, adding the taste is less prominent than in flavoured spirits such as raspberry vodka. “We had to decide when we were making it: we could have had a really strong hemp flavour in it. Or we could have a very, very, very, very mild hemp flavour in the background. We went with the very mild, because vodka you can pretty much mix it with anything.”

So Cooney and Magnusson went to work.

“We got incorporated and we contacted the president of a distillery in Calgary, and we told him we thought we had a great idea and wanted to talk to him,” she said. But in September, when they met, Cooney said he was interested but worried about potential legal problems producing a vodka infused with a product from the same plant that produces marijuana.

“Hemp has a slight nutty, piney flavour. You don’t really taste it much in a vodka, but what happens is it makes the vodka really smooth, was what the result was,” said Stephanie Keough Cooney

“There were quite a few barriers. It took a long time to get our labels approved,” she said.

Little wonder: the label prominently features a large cannabis leaf. But persistence paid off, and Stoked Vodka hit Alberta store shelves July 12. The women hope to expand into British Columbia, and eventually sell it across the country and in the United States, and while Cooney is currently visiting family and friends in Newfoundland, she has spoken to an official with the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp.

“I am going to apply to get it into Newfoundland, but basically Newfoundland only takes vodka in certain times of the year,” she said. “So they basically told me they’re not taking in any new vodkas at the moment, because it’s not the time of year that they do it.”

And she’s run into a wrinkle as the vodka she’s marketing is finally up for sale: she can’t have any, because she’s four months pregnant. She laughs that it’s difficult to tout the taste of her product when she’s not having any. Still, she has high hopes for the product.

“I’m probably going to continue my work until I go on maternity leave,” said Cooney, who found an office job after being laid off from the engineering firm.

“But I’m kinda hoping that by the time I gotta go back to work, (Liquid Chicks) is something that I can pursue full-time.”

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor

Geographic location: Newfoundland, North America, Calgary Alberta British Columbia United States

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Recent comments

  • Jenna Rockefeller
    March 29, 2014 - 10:15

  • Lynn
    January 20, 2013 - 20:24

    Wonderful idea! Naysayers do your homework ... The health benefits and clothing lines alone are astounding. You go girls !!!

  • AnthonyL
    January 20, 2013 - 20:17

    The girls just got a deal on CBC's Dragon Den with Bruce and Jim Sun Jan 20th 2013

  • f g gregoire
    October 19, 2011 - 01:08

    I consume hemp products regularly [oil, hearts and protien], almost daily and I enjoy the health benefits from it. These products do not show on drug screens as they are not laden with the THC thats in the plant matter ingested as a drug. Kudos to you ladies for your bold initiative and I wish you great success. Yes I will indeed try your product. Thank you.

  • tessa
    October 18, 2011 - 21:15

    im confused does that mean im gonna get high and drunk ?

  • Mike Boisvert
    June 04, 2011 - 00:16

    If I was to drink your vodka would I be able to pass a drug test the next day

  • Mr. Busy Body
    August 04, 2010 - 06:41

    These girls are just jumping on the "weed is cool...hemp is cool..wicked!" band wagon. Shame on you girls. This is obviosly targeting the youth.

    • dst
      August 13, 2010 - 10:27

      Dear Mr Busy Body, you seem to be ignorant on the hemp subject. Hemp as MANY health benefits. If hemp is in a field of marijuana, it ruins the crop so you should be all for hemp. Just because you eat or use hemp it does not imply that you smoke weed. You seem to be happy to hear about a new vodka out there, perhaps you should pour yourself a glass so you can chill out stop being a busy body. Give these ingenious women a break! good work ladies

  • MJ
    July 30, 2010 - 13:27

    So I'm getting educated. For the life of me I thought hemp was rope!

  • Hemping
    July 30, 2010 - 12:47

    HUI, It's much like human life. The male of the species if fine, but the female is just trouble. :)

  • Global Hemp
    July 30, 2010 - 12:11

    Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis. However, they are different varieties. Its similar to the fact that both a German Shepard and Rat Terriers are dogs (canines), but they have distinctive features and uses that they were breed for. German Shepard are used as guard dogs and Rat Terriers were breed to tunnel into rat holes to kill rats. Hemp is not the male marijuana plant. Its true that marijuana is the flower of the female plant, but if you were to cross breed a male hemp plant with a female marijuana plant, the end result would be significantly less powerful marijuana. This is why marijuana breeders never want the presence of hemp anywhere near their grow operation. So, just as if you were to cross a German Shepard with a Chiwawa, I can guarantee you the puppies would not be as large as their German Shepard parent. Bell, jalapeno and habanero are all peppers, but its obvious that they are not one and the same. You can not pass off a green bell pepper for a habanero. And, along the same lines a green bell pepper is not the male version of a habanero pepper either. Yes, they are both peppers, but they are not one and the same. For more information on hemp (aka "industrial hemp") you should visit the Global Hemp website at

  • Mike
    July 30, 2010 - 10:31

    Its hemp not weed. Hemp is the male plant it dosent get you high! Also hemp is very much legal in canada!

    • taro
      August 02, 2010 - 10:10

      its still illegal to grow though:(

  • Hui
    July 30, 2010 - 08:05

    ok, so is that weeds in the liquor? Is that legal

    • Maria
      July 30, 2010 - 10:34

      It's not weed it's hemp. Hemp is legal and has no active drug in it. it is good for you and is sold in many products.