Warren Bobrow, @WarrenBobrow1, the Cocktail Whisperer, is the 5x Author of Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today, Whiskey Cocktails: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails & Elixirs, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations and his celebrated, 2017 release, The Craft Cocktail Compendium.
Bobrow presented at the 2018 SXSW on Disrupting the Cannabis Kitchen and Cannabis Cocktails.
He was the Mercedes-Benz Me Conference Mystery Speaker on Wellness at SXSW 2018. Bobrow has written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and many other national and global periodicals.
We caught up with Warren and learned so much about him. Warren also gives great tips and tricks in mixing cannabis and alcohol.
Read below to find out more!
Ganjly: What is your background and how did you came about the idea on mixing cannabis and cocktails?
Warren Bobrow: I’m originally a trained chef, from the dish sink on up. Mostly by necessity, and partially by passion. I was fortunate to travel extensively around Europe, Brazil and the Ivory Coast in Africa during the middle 1960’s to the mid 1970’s. Yes, I’m that old! (ha). We were never hotel room diners and food was more than just a meal. It was a way of life. Let’s say that I wanted for nothing growing up and my fine taste and sense of decorum is a learned one by doing and not by reading in books.
So when a circumstance occurred beyond my control, I took my vast knowledge of food and drink, then put it to use for me in my career. Establishing a Fresh Pasta business in Charleston, SC after attending Johnson/Wales for culinary school and that is after a four-year degree in Film from Emerson.
I must have had a change of passion? No. I needed a job so I washed dishes and learned about what went on in a professional kitchen. I had never made cocktails or thought about them until decades later.
After a twenty-year career in banking from teller on up, attempting in vain to please my overbearing father and grandfather who in the end hated me anyway, no matter what I did for work because it just wasn’t good enough, so they disowned me. Nice.
Cocktails happened because I felt I could make a difference in a world filled with sweet drinks oozing with corn syrup sweeteners and overbearing spirits.
I’ve framed my career based on craft spirits and hand made syrups- always from natural sugars. My drinks are not sweet! I taught a Master Class in Rum at the Moscow Bar Show in Russia and it changed my world view on the way cocktails worked as a science.
Most of the world’s cocktails are overly sweet. I don’t do things that way. Mine are well balanced from my prior life as a saucier/soup chef.
Of course there is the cannabis. I’ve used cannabis since 12 or 13. Maybe 14. It was a long time ago, so I’m not new to the art. Cannabis was smoked in my family. I know this because I never forgot who did and who didn’t smoke weed in the 60’s.
And then there were the dozens and dozens of Grateful Dead shows. Mixing Cannabis and Cocktails? It came to me in a dream. One in color. I had my epiphany in New Orleans, during Tales of the Cocktail.
I attended an exhibit at the Pharmacy Museum that focused on the use of cannabis in healing. The early apothecary was the focus of my first book, Apothecary Cocktails. My personal background is in healing with our family business centering on “healing” what ails ye.
Snake oil? Maybe. But their vast success afforded me curiosity of what was really being mixed as cocktails for healing during the 1800’s.
Cannabis was being used for 5000 years, why not mix it into cocktails? Why not indeed! I did it, survived the hype and found that drinking cannabis in cocktails is not bad nor dangerous as a major magazine stated. Maybe if they knew me better? Nah.
Ganjly: In consuming cannabis edibles, the effect of cannabis takes place around two hours of consumption. How long does it take effect when drinking cannabis infused cocktails if we make the recipe out from your book?
Warren Bobrow: Five Minutes. You read that right. Five minutes – or less. I use a piece of technologically advance machinery from a company in Boston named Ardent.
The Ardent Nova is used to decarb my cannabis to 100% bioavailability. What that means is 100% of the plant is available to get you stoned. Period.
Then, with a tip of my cap to Dave Arnold, the famous gastro-mixologist, I place the decarbed cannabis and whichever craft spirit I want to infuse, along with a tablespoon of vegetarian, liquid lecithin in an ISI whipped cream maker. Chefs know what this is. I use the one that can be heated without exploding. That’s important! And no gas stoves! Alcohol is highly explosive, don’t be the one that does this wrong!
So you have blasted the molecule of THC into the molecule of alcohol with 3 cartridges. Shake well for a few minutes. Vent into a rag. You probably won’t want to inhale this, so don’t.
Let simmer in the ISI and vent until no gas is left. Then place the entire container into a double boiler and (continuing to vent every few minutes or so) simmer to 160 degrees for two hours venting every so often. Let cool and strain wearing rubber gloves, otherwise you’ll get super stoned!
Top off the container of THC infused liquor with fresh liquor and use in all your craft cocktails. Do not use more than 1/2 oz. of your finest flowers in a bottle(750ml). Each cocktail will be about 100mg, more than enough so be mindful! No more than one drink per hour. You won’t want to!
Ganjly: What is your favorite cannabis cocktail in your book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations?
Warren Bobrow: My favorite is the Mezzrole Cocktail, named for the 1920’s and 30’s musician and weed dealer to Louis Armstrong.
Mezz was responsible for the transportation of several TONS of high grade(at the time) Mexican Cannabis to Harlem, feeding the Jazz Era with hip-hep cats and their weeds well before Prohibition ruined the party.
This is a take on the classic Manhattan cocktail with Luxardo Cherries and fine bourbon Whiskey from Barrell in Kentucky. It’s a sum of the parts and everything is in balance together.
I believe that I used a strain named Cherry Pie for this cocktail and everything just clicks into gear with the right bitters at the end. No sweet drinks here!
The Mezzrole was a slang for a well-rolled cannabis cigarette. If you asked someone you didn’t know for a reefer you may have been arrested. A Mezzrole was a well formed cannabis cigarette.
Ganjly: What do you hope the cannabis industry in New Jersey and New York would be like 5 years from now?
Warren Bobrow: New Jersey is a tough state to talk cannabis in. Primarily because of the Home Rule. We still have Freeholders here. They date to the Tories. The British who saw a good thing here in the Colonies and they never left.
Their descendants still rule this area like their own Serfdom. It’s trying sometimes, and now with pending cannabis legalization, the concept of overthrowing home rule is as alien as bringing back alcohol prohibition.
Which, by the way is still on here in New Jersey with many dry counties. What are they waiting for? I don’t think New Jersey will change much. Maybe towns like Jersey City and Lambertville will decriminalize cannabis, but as far as full legalization?
We have a long way to go, baby! They are patient around here. At least for the last 400 or so years they have been patient. The Tories, by the way are the ruling class, ultra-conservatives.
Ganjly: Do you have recommendations on what mixing tools we must have in making cannabis cocktails?
Warren Bobrow: Well that’s an easy question to answer. I use the ISI whipped cream maker. You can get one at Bed Bath and Beyond. I also recommend the Ardent Nova. https://ardentcannabis.com/products/nova-decarboxylator/.
I also highly suggest the purchase of a MagicalButter Machine. https://magicalbutter.com/.
But at the end of the day technology is going to make your results perfect every time. I had a lot of trouble decarbing in the oven. Especially my toaster oven, the temperature fluctuates massively. The Ardent is perfect every time. No burned batches of medicine!
You can mix drinks in just about anything, so don’t over intellectualize it. Good ice that doesn’t taste like garlic pasta is a must so make it fresh every day if possible and clean out your fridge!
I make my ice in a plastic bag. Comes out perfect every time. And it’s not perfectly formed. That’s the idea! I like ice.
Ganjly: Do you have tips for those who want to mix cannabis with alcohol?
Warren Bobrow: Go slowly. You don’t have to get the entire neighborhood stoned, although you will be a hero with your cocktail making prowess. I promise that you’ll be cognizant to what you’re drinking in the future.
Even if you don’t use my recipes with the THC, they are quite delicious! I’ll ruin you for your bartender. Use the best craft spirits that you can afford. Do not use spirits that are caramel colored, like most rums and many whiskies but not straight bourbon or rye.
They cannot, by law contain coloring or flavoring! Win/win! I love using Barrell Bourbon, Barr Hill Gin, Jade Absinthe and many others who understood that fine craft spirits mix with cannabis like a dream.
Ganjly: Do you have any upcoming events, projects or perhaps a new book coming soon? And if yes, can you tell us a little bit more about it.
Warren Bobrow: No books in the future, I am writing for Forbes in the online space and traveling quite a bit doing cannabis related stories. I still enjoy the spirits industry and focus heavily on craft spirits.
I enjoy the passion of the USBG here in New Jersey and watch the young bartenders on their way up to fame. It gives me much pleasure to teach what I know and share my passion for excellence.
Thank you so much for your time, Warren! We love your recipes! To know more about Warren, head on over to his website, CocktailWhisperer.com.
To get a copy of his awesome books, check out the links below:
To get a copy of his awesome cannabis cocktail books, check out the links below:
Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations
The Craft Cocktail Compendium
Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today
Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails & Elixirs
Whiskey Cocktails: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks