A century ago, there were more than just drinks to get you drunk. Drink concoctions to revitalize the body and mind were all the rage. From digestives for the stomach to restoratives for vitality, there was a drink for every occasion. Another hark back to days of yore comes in the form of cannabis tinctures, tonics, and apothecary mixtures. Warren Bobrow, known the world over as The Cocktail Whisperer, has taken his long-held love of both drinks and cannabis and combined them into a book for the ages.
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You’ve plotted an interesting course in your career to make it to where you are today. What sparked your interest in cocktails and cannabis.
I’ve enjoyed cannabis for a long time, though that does tend to age me a bit. As a teen, I grew up with an uncle with hair down to his waist, lived at times on a farm, and went to my first Grateful Dead show in 1971. As for cocktails, I always loved the look of the complicated drinks my family had at dinner or I saw in the movies. James Bond was the posterchild for the martini, and they were just a part of the lifestyle. I was always around it. Cocktails were always a passion, but it wasn’t until I tried several other careers that I came back to them as a full time occupation.
What was your first experience like? We have a lot of new cannabis lovers out there, and everyone has their own story. What about your first time with an infused cannabis treat?
I don’t recall the first time smoking cannabis, it has been so long, but my first brownie I will never forget. My jaw went numb. I washed it down with a beer, and it turned into a bad experience. But it wasn’t a complete wash. Fast forward May of 2 years ago, I dreamed of that brownie, that beer and that flavor profile: chocolate, dark rum and cannabis. Most of my ideas come to me like that. In a vivid dream in the middle of the night, usually in vivid color. Not many people dream in color, so I have read. I looked into it and didn’t see anyone working in the field of canna-cocktails. I realized that my brownie experience could have been so much better as a drink, something I am far more familiar with, as are most people.
Tell us about your take on traditional apothecaries and where cannabis fits in.
My book actually does a take on the original apothecary. They were who the common folk would have gone to for healing. Apothecaries were old country healers, and much closer than doctors. They used what they had on hand: herbs, salves, and other homemade remedies right up until the Pure Food and Drug Act. That put most of them underground, but they are still out there.
Why were so many old remedies in the form of alcohol?
Before electricity and refrigeration, there was no other way to keep things fresh. You would use salt, drying, smoke curing, and liquor. Water back then was hardly sanitary, unless it came directly from a well or spring. Old time garden punches were made to purify water, as well as give infusions of healthy herbs and spices. Restorative drinks were how many people took in vitamins if wholesome food weren’t around, and a lot of the time it wasn’t.
Tell us about your new book, and how it differs from your previous work? We know it deals with cannabis, but how was the process for researching and writing different?
I had to do a lot of research. But in the end, I took the spirit of what I learned about old cannabis drinks and put a modern bartender’s twist on them. All the drinks in my book are original creations. Many cannabis tinctures back in the day also had things like opium, ladinum, and ether in them. That wouldn’t work today.
So this book has really put you out on a limb, professionally?
Quite. I am the unofficial spokesman for a prominent alcohol label, but dealing with cannabis has put a strain on a lot of those relationships. They don’t want to touch it. So I have really staked my reputation and career on publishing this book. It took a toll on my personal relationships with my family as well. But it has helped me to strike out on my own, truly my own man, for what seems like the first time.
The amazing compendium
Warren’s new book is Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations. Some of his personal credentials include:
- Author/Cook/Barman/Spirits Consultant
- Moscow Bar Show- Master Class
- Ministry of Rum Judge
- Tales of the Cocktail- Spirited Award Nominee
With 75 original creations from one of the world’s premier judges of fine liquors, this goes so much further than a simple recipe book. It takes the reader on a journey through history and cultures. Delves into traditions and puts new twists on old favorites. You can find his book here, and follow Warren Bobrow on his website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
The Cocktail Whisperer has even agreed to share a few of his favorite cannabis drink concoctions with us here at HERB, so stay tuned for a companion article with some amazing recipes you will fall head over heels for!