Detroit’s Apotheculture Club delivers a high-class mix of cannabis, cuisine, and culture

For five hours during the night of Friday, May 17, I felt like I was a part of a secret cool kids club. I had a fancy dinner at a private residence and saw an opera with a group of strangers. Most importantly, though, all of us were high.

Behind the event was the Detroit-born Apotheculture Club, a cannabis-infused dining experience founded around a year ago by stage director and weed enthusiast James Blaszko. Through his own life, Blaszko, who is from Harlem, New York, found that seeing opera and classical music performances while stoned highly elevates the experience. So, he started the club with hopes of destigmatizing weed consumption in these spaces, and to share his fun findings with others.

Detroiters who attended the club’s last local event understood that Blaszko could be on to something, myself included.

Honestly I was nervous, partially because I’m nowhere near a stoner, and also due to fear about socializing with strangers. But the experience sounded one-of-a-kind, so I wanted to try it. Luckily, my nervousness was eased from start to finish, and one-of-a-kind the night was.

The evening began at a private residence on the city’s east side, a building I drive by every week that no one would know is secretly a home. I was slightly confused, yet extremely wow-ed as soon as I walked in. The place was beautiful and covered in art, mostly created by the homeowner, and featured stunning design and detail inside and out. The home’s owners were not present, but Blaszko says they have allowed him to use the space on multiple occasions as they are passionate about Apotheculture Club’s mission.

Upon arrival, I was welcomed by Blaszko and other guests immediately, quickly easing my social anxiety. We were led just a few steps away outside to a courtyard with a seating area and photo opportunities where everyone introduced themselves to each other and mingled before dinner.

The group featured a mix of people of different ages and backgrounds, all dressed to the nines. For most people in attendance, like myself, this was their first Apotheculture Club experience, with just two individuals who had previously been, and clearly enjoyed the experience.

By the end of the night, we all understood why.

One of my favorite parts of the event was Cecelia Sharpe, a Detroit radio host and musician who co-hosted the event alongside Blaszko. The two had only just met in person that day, but the collaboration was done with ease and intention.

In the courtyard, Sharpe offered all of the guest’s drinks, either water, sparkling water, or cannabis beverages by sponsor Mighty Real that were either 5 mg or 10 mg. I opted for the 5 mg option. The root beer-flavored beverage tasted like a La Croix, so it could have used more flavor, but also wasn’t bad.

Additionally, during the beginning of the evening, Sharpe continuously repeated everyone’s names like an elementary school teacher, and she did tell us she used to be an educator, so it makes sense. This small detail was super helpful to get everyone acquainted and comfortable.

Sharpe then had each of us fill out menus for dinner that asked how much cannabis we’d like in each course. For the first course, you could choose between 0 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg. I chose 5 mg. For the second, you could choose between 0 mg, 7 mg, and 14 mg. I chose 7 mg.

These choices allow the event to accommodate all cannabis tolerance levels, and I appreciated it.

Soon, Blaszko told us to head to the dining room where guests had assigned seats at a long dining table. People who came together sat across from each other and the hosts sat at the heads of the table.

The dining room table was covered in tablecloths crafted by Detroit clothing brand David Vintage, who the night’s chef told us he works closely with. I thought this aspect helped bring in an essence of Detroit artistry and it made me happy that local artists were being supported and promoted in just this small way.

While the guests sat at the table, Chef Artist J was finishing up crafting our dinner behind us in an open kitchen, and we were promptly served.

The first course was charred watermelon sashimi with gastrique Brussels sprouts and seared golden berries. The second was a BBQ chicken coxinha with smoked jicama nest and sweet potato confit.

Both dishes, which utilized Monster Xtracts’s cannabis-infused olive oil, were displayed beautifully, with unique flavor and amazing taste overall. Plus, the theme of the meal was somewhat connected to the opera we would be viewing later in the evening, and the chef explained his process to the group.

Everything was done with intention.

At the dinner table, the conversation was upbeat and smooth. People from different generations talked about their unique first experiences with marijuana and Blaszko told us about his first-ever high opera experience. Then, everyone discussed the harsh realities of the plant not being legalized at the federal level and how events like this can help create small change. The “curated conversation” seemed natural and engaging, so much so that I completely forgot it was curated.

Following our meal, the group was ushered into a private bus where the hosts took headcount to assure everyone was present. We arrived at the Detroit Opera House around 15 minutes later.

First and foremost, we all know the Opera House is stunning, so I was already in awe as soon as I walked in. Heading into the venue, the Apotheculture Club all sat together in two rows. The woman sitting next to me, who was the most long-time Apotheculture Club member, said the seats were the best they’ve had yet. “It just keeps getting better and better,” she told Blaszko.

The show, titled The Cunning Little Vixen, began shortly, and there was no more time for socializing. I believe this was my first time actually seeing an opera, so it was interesting to say the least.

The family-friendly story merged animal and human worlds, following a clever fox who tries to outwit her captors. The coolest part about the performance was the mix of acting and animation, as real people popped through holes in the screen to belt their lines. It felt like you were watching a film, being transported from the real world to fantasy in the process.

click to enlarge The Detroit Opera House mirror selfie from Apotheculture Club’s event on May 17. - James Blaszko

James Blaszko

The Detroit Opera House mirror selfie from Apotheculture Club’s event on May 17.

During the show, I honestly wasn’t sure if the weed had kicked in or not. I felt super tired, but also super focused. Other times, I would zone out and miss what was happening. So, I feel like that means it somewhat hit me for sure, but I could have definitely gone for a higher amount.

Following the show, we all took a group mirror selfie before leaving the Opera House and heading back to the bus where we discussed our thoughts on the performance throughout the drive home.

When we returned to the private residence, we were served a dessert crafted by Chef Amy Hang. The dish, named Citrus Forest, was a lime moss cake with lemon cream, orange, blueberry, strawberry, and pomegranate. It was prepared beautifully, with the perfect amount of sweetness.

By the end of the night, though, many of us had the munchies and could have gone for many more servings of food.

During and after dessert, the group had some last-minute conversation, many of us exchanging Instagram handles and contact information before leaving for the night, making new friends through the shared unique memory.

Overall, Apotheculture Club was a great experience that exceeded my expectations. It felt that every aspect of the night was carefully thought out and the mix of hospitality with entertainment and conversation made for an amazing energy that I hope to eventually experience again. I encourage others to attend an Apotheculture Club event and support the group if you get the chance.

Tickets for Apotheculture Club events are usually around $200, but the group encourages individuals who have previously been incarcerated for, or exonerated from, marijuana-related offenses to reach out via email or Instagram to learn about unique perks and privileges.

Apotheculture Club will be back in Detroit, but no date has been announced yet.

You can follow them on Instagram @apothecultureclub to stay up to date or email [email protected] to get on the group’s mailing list.

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