Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails, and Elixirs - Whiskey Cocktails : Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks Using the World's Most Popular Spirit - Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations.
Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail....
Warren writes about food, wine, mixology and spirits. He is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.
Warren is a former chef/saucier- fresh pasta manufacturing company owner *lost business in Hurricane Hugo* - to private banking (for 20 years, a grand mistake) to reinvention as the Warren he's always wanted to become.
In the Mind of An Author, Journalist & Chef: Warren Bobrow
I am so excited to share my passion for cannabis with the esteemed company—Kurvana. I was charmed by two 510 Kurvana cartridges enough to go to their website and poke around. The social media landscape in real time makes for many such rabbit holes, so I didn’t know what I was in for. What follows is my first-hand experience with two Kurvana strains: Pineapple Express, this month’s SOTM, and True OG, a classic.
I have written several books but my current one, Cannabis Cocktails, is by far my favorite one because I like Cannabis! Yes, I like to smoke it and to play around with it in craft cocktails (look me up, I’ve been having fun with this for a while). I enjoy it. Perhaps more than alcohol, and alcohol is the business that I work in! So, I had to figure out what to do that could make me a living—cannabis or liquor. Why not both?
The other 510 cartridge that I tasted was True OG. A dank and richly textured draw that led to volumes of thick vapor redolent of cedar and lemon zest dripping in first press, like olive oil across the tongue. It’s an introspective high, one that comes with an understanding of the forces of nature as well as the ability to see into the future. Well, maybe not, but the True OG is quite intellectual. I wouldn’t say it made me smarter, but the vapor did coat the inside of more than one cocktail glass. You see, it’s possible to scent the inside of a cocktail glass with the exhaled vapor from your hit. Blowing the vapor inside the pre-chilled glass makes the smoke ‘stick’ to the inside. Then you can build your craft cocktail quite easily- now that the inside of the glass has been ‘washed’ with vapor. The True OG calls out for savory instead of sweet applications. I would build a Manhattan-esque cocktail with damned good Whiskey from Barrell Bourbon… something like Dolin- a drier- rather than a sweeter approach to the Vermouth and good old Angostura Bitters- make for the ideal cocktail. Of course, if you want to add a cherry—make sure you cured them yourself- with THC and good Kentucky Bourbon- lots of cane sugar if you want them candied- or raw honey. It’s all good.
Kurvana cartridges serve as more than just a mere metaphor for living–they are part of my way of being. Join me in sharing your experiences with Kurvana!
Drink Maple — Pure Maple Water — and Barrell Bourbon Whiskey
When I drink the finest whiskies in the world in a crystal glass, I want to control all the things that I can do something about.
I want to first make sure that my glass is clean and free of any scents or chemicals from my dishwasher. It’s always my intention to hand-wash my tasting glasses, but even then the way to wash them is to use no soap, which often leaves a film and an off-putting taste.
Yet not washing them with soap is problematic at best. So, what to do? The first thing that I do is buy a gallon of white vinegar. I soak my glassware in a 40/60 wash (vinegar to cool water) overnight in a non-reactive bowl made of glass or, better yet, a food safe bucket. Any smells or flavors are neutralized by the low PH and high acidity of the white vinegar. Then instead of throwing out the washing solution, I’ll add it to a bucket and disinfect my mop heads. It’s pretty amazing stuff. Got fruit flies in your kitchen? Put out a dish of white vinegar, cover with plastic wrap and put a couple holes in it and say hello to a 1 way swimming lesson!
When it’s my turn to test new liquors or combinations of liquor and water, I want a perfectly clear glass without any residue of soap or a smear of lipstick, or the worst offender, garlic pasta.
Barrell Bourbon Whiskey is exactly what I want in my tasting glass, but the only downside is the fact that it’s just after 11:30 in the morning. I want to taste the sprits but I don’t want to get plastered on the 120 plus proof spirits at this tender hour of the day! So, what to do?
A couple years ago, I stumbled upon a somewhat new product at the International Fancy Food Show in NYC, named Drink Maple and it’s just that. It’s USDA Certified Organic Maple Water straight from the tree. But how do they do this? What, do you crush trees?
The last time I cut down a maple tree it was just after Hurricane Sandy lay waste to the forest up where I used to live in Jockey Hollow. I was stacking wood and came upon a fallen maple tree. My chain-saw got stuck several times because of the high liquid content of the wood. Maple is very hard to burn in a woodstove unless it is perfectly seasoned- and that might take a couple years of sun, freeze, snow, ice, and thaw.
There’s a lot of liquid in there. I suppose the owners of the Drink Maple company have figured out how to tap this liquid in large enough amounts to make a product like this viable. When I think of the wood and what caused my chain-saw to lock up, I couldn’t imagine extracting the liquid in a manner that is financially viable and still delicious.
It’s delicious…subtle, and lush. Truly gorgeous stuff against my tongue and lips. Inside the lovely, curvaceous bottle is something cooling and lithe. It’s conversational and intellectual without being overt, trite or dare I say, trendy. Maple Water is not trendy. It’s been around for longer than you have.
Maple Water has a subtle sweetness, a silky and opulent mouthfeel. It is thirst quenching and strangely calming. And when a mere splash is added to a glass of Barrell Bourbon Whiskey, magic truly happens. I really feel strongly about this:
Mouth-feel: Soft, rich, pure, exotic spices and fresh sea breeze across the lips
Palate: Creamy and dense, a froth, bursting from the ground- pure and fresh across the tongue, a swirling tornado of lusciousness and pleasure
Finish: Long finish of sweet maple gives way to deeper notes of spice and freshly cut herbs, a tangle of sweetness lingers then extends on and on to the multi-minute completion
USDA Organic and Verified non GMO, and it’s also jam-packed with electrolytes and natural antioxidants. When added to Barrell Whiskey, the pure maple water becomes greater than just water. Maple Water is just spectacular when mixed with some of the finest Bourbon Whiskey that money can buy.
Take one ounce of the Barrell Bourbon (or their magnificent whiskey of your choice) and contemplate…gorgeous stuff. Add a mere splash of the Drink Maple liquid. And know you have in your perfectly clear glass one of the best things in the world. And you can buy these in New Jersey, today…right now!
Gin & Juice: How To Make Warren Bobrow’s Three Planets Canna-Punch
I’m a huge fan of gin. There are so many different styles. Take London Dry and imagine that bone dry whisper of juniper and a scraping of citrus oil, perhaps some tea leaf and some pine needles. There you have gin. Other varieties bend the realism of floral notes and some even combine the two with cucumbers and roses! I’m a fan of one that hails from Vermont made from raw honey and grain. It tastes just fine in a snifter or when treated to fresh lime juice and a touch of ice. It’s always up to the drinker how they want to enjoy their slurp.
Gin has had a tempestuous history. A thing of the underclass, a cheap drunk and sometimes even a curative. Every sailor knew that the gin he carried on the high seas was made to be enjoyed with a squeeze of lime- it probably wasn’t fresh lime like we have today, but that lime (hence the word limey’s) represented healing. And that healing is why we drink gin up to today.
Because gin represents more than just a mere foil for tonic water, it’s the stuff that keeps you from getting malaria when you’re in the rain forest. See that quinine water is the thing that you take when there are those pesky mosquitos around carrying malaria. And the gin? It keeps your mind numb to the fact that the mosquitos are looking to give you whatever they are carrying. And you don’t want that. Nope.
Gin is here for healing what ails ye. During the Middle Ages, it was said that gin was a powerful curative against the plague. I’d like to believe that gin was purified water with folk healing herbs added.
One very delicious way to enjoy gin is with citrus juices. But instead of just opening the refrigerator and taking out juices of an uncertain demeanor, why not raise the bar and use freshly squeezed juices that have been roasted prior? Roasted? What does that mean? Cooking the fruit juices in the oven with raw sugar or honey is one of life’s simple pleasures. Then as if by magic, the roasted juices are woven into punch with the above mentioned gin of your choosing. And since I’ve been charged with the responsibility for being slightly askew of the norm, I’m going to ask you to use a gin that has been infused with THC.
Since you’ve been following along, or not- let me explain. I wrote a little book, really the first one on the topic- named Cannabis Cocktails and this book teaches a different approach to the enjoyment of gin. Since I teach an alternative method to extracting THC and adding it to craft spirits, this new way is quite simple and therefore intriguing. I was given permission by the kind folks at the Magical Butter Machine company to use their namesake invention. This made my life extremely easy for the infusion part. The decarb part is cumbersome and stinky, but necessary to make your weed active. That means you feel the good stuff happen in your head and in your belly. A craft cocktail that has THC in it. Not CBD (well meaning) or hemp (a money grab), but the real thing. Yes Virginia, you get drunk and stoned and guess what? They are pretty tasty together!
Remember: please, never more than one drink per hour. They tend to cause negativity if you go over this little rule of thumb. If you take too much, suck a few lemons- that seems to work.
Three Planets Punch
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut about four grapefruits in half, with four oranges and four limes, two lemons as well. Place on a non-stick baking sheet. Sprinkle with raw sugar and Angostura Biters. Roast for ½ hour to an hour. Let cool and then juice.
For two persons or more…
8 oz. Botanical Gin infused with the strain of your choice
4 oz. Dry Sherry
4 oz. Roasted Grapefruit
4 oz. Roasted Lime
4 oz. Roasted Orange
2 oz. Roasted Lemon juices
1 bottle Sparkling wine
Combine all the juices with the gin and about twenty shakes of Angostura Bitters, add the sherry and stir. Add the sparkling wine and stir again. Taste for bitterness. Adjust with Angostura and stir. Spoon into Victorian Tea Cups and serve.
Tweet Voters in nine states got to make their opinions known on marijuana last November, and they spoke loudly in favor of it. Eight of the nine ballot initiatives to legalize or deregulate pot passed, officially making cannabis legal for … Continue reading →
If you’re a bartender looking to simplify your daily grind, it’s time to get back to the old fashioned basics. Here are five simple and inexpensive things you can do today to make that behind the bar job shine!
1.Cut with a knife and not with a peeler
As my friend Gary Regan teaches in his “Cocktails in the Country” bartender training – when an orange is presented for use as a garnish, cut with a knife and not with a peeler.You would think that a peeler is faster because on a busy night and you have that orange in your hand and you want to go faster.A conundrum when you are slammed- at the very least.But one that is easily solved.Ditch the quick peeler in favor of your trusty companion.What is it? The basic item, your paring knife. It’s an elegant tool and it connects you with the past, the mastery taking your time.Of conscious bartending. You will learn over time not to let this knife out of your sight, lest it come back with a broken tip, or you see it being used to open thick cardboard boxes. Use this paring knife when you cut all of your citrus.It’s a bit slower on the peel, but far more rewarding to your guest when you take your time and connect with the zest.It smells better too for some reason.
2. Ice is nice.Pretty simple, right?
I’m convinced in my time working in the liquor industry that there is good ice, but more often than not, there is lousy ice.I think that the use of quarter cubes is taking advantage of the guest by diluting their drink.The quarter cube should only be used in a water glass.Cocktails just look and taste better with a larger cube of ice, preferably a round or a square shape instead of a slice. I am an intellect with ice- it’s important to me.Ice is the most important ingredient in a craft cocktail.Ice can make or break that event of dining out so don’t give your guests a glass of diluted top shelf liquor for their hard earned money.Encourage your bar-back to use silicone trays to make large ice cubes to show off your expensive, top shelf whiskies.The guest remembers how impressive this looks in their glass and will tell everyone about their ice experience.If the sky is the limit, consider having Glace Ice in your bar.They make perfect rounds and cubes.I’ve rarely seen anything like them.If you are in NYC, I’m told that Hundredweight is the way to go.Out here on the perimeter we have ice companies, I’d ask for a 50-pound block and ask (nicely) if they would consider cutting 1 pound chunks out of the block.You can train your staff to hand cut ice for a drink.It’s a class act to be seen cutting your own ice.
3. Natural and Organic
Now more than ever with the utter explosion of natural and organic foods, the attention is poised towards the liquor industry.How do you make a product that tastes delicious and captures the consumer’s interest in eating (and drinking) more healthfully?Fortunately, there is a green colored label that appears on the liquor bottle that shows that the product is certified Organic.It reads USDA Certified Organic.To drum up sales, side by side tastings can be organized for your guests.Organic vs. non-Organic liquors (and beers) will drive sales, it’s well proven. Certainly the conversation that includes craft liquors made from organically grown ingredients couldn’t hurt from the standpoint of more sales.Your guests are already doing their shopping at Whole Foods, so you know they are eating better, why not drink better too? An organic liquor like a vodka may start an entire pathway of liquid driven education for your guest.Then you can start juicing all your citrus fresh. (We can always hope).And that’s not even scratching the surface of Biodynamic and Organic wine production.There is a lifetime of spirits education available to your guests that costs absolutely nothing and makes your bar staff the go/to for learning of all kinds.Which of course adds to sales and your bottom line.Make it fun!
4. Bartenders need something to do, everyone should have some sort of side-work
Bar staff should be always cleaning glasses, doing something with their hands, instead of tapping at their phones. If you are like me, having started in the food industry as a lowly pot-scrubber/dish washer back in the mid-1980’s (way before cell-phones), I’m pretty particular about caring for fine glassware.Certainly the modern equipment is more sophisticated now in this era of fast and casual dining.The new mechanized technology certainly does a better job with clarity due to modern chemicals and judicious applications of heat.I like to offer an old-fashioned approach that is very effective for putting an extra shine on the glassware.Add a few capfuls of regular white vinegar to a spray bottle with plain tap water.Spray inside the glasses with this mixture and wipe with a lint free cloth.The finish will be sparkling and the white vinegar neutralizes any remaining odors that sometimes linger inside the dish machine.Clean all the liquor and the wine bottles that are around the bar with this mixture.I like to use a colorful French style kitchen towel.It’s fun.
Make a punch of the day.It’s easy and inexpensive.One of the great ways to get rid of products that are at the bottom of the bottle is by making a punch of the day.And since this is the end of many bottles, you should always use the very best juices available.This makes the use of the end of the bottle impossible to detect.
There is nothing wrong with doing things simply and with love. A smile goes a long way.Remember the guest is coming to see you, it’s just not the other way around.Don’t ever forget that!
The alcohol industry organization, the Wholesale Spirits and Wine Association (WSWA) is unhappy about legalized cannabis. At their recent 72nd meeting, a seminar entitled, “Everything You Need to Know about Marijuana Legalization,” took place in a packed room with an invite list filled with names from the government and the cannabis industry there to discuss the explosion of legal cannabis and what they can do about it.Alcohol wholesalers attended this seminar because they can no longer ignore the fact that cannabis legalization is sweeping the country, and their long-held dominance over the world of intoxicants will be changing in the future.Their anxiety over legal cannabis sales threatening liquor industry profits isn’t unfounded, as early metrics point to that specific market effect in states like Colorado, where adults voted for the right to choose marijuana as a safer alternative.Recent articles in the Mark Brown newsletter show beer sales in certain markets have been adversely impacted by the legal sales of cannabis, and the Cowen Insight states, “In adult use cannabis markets, there are clear signs that cannabis is weighing on beer category trends, with CO, WA and OR underperforming the overall beer market by ~260 bps, YTD. Mainstream beers are the biggest drag, while craft is also slowing.”On January 12, Institutional Cannabis Investors held a gathering of investors at Cowen and Company in NYC, a 100-year-old Wall Street investment banking house who recently initiated coverage for the cannabis market. This groundbreaking event means that legal cannabis is now a big enough money-maker for traditionally conservative Wall Street to use as an investment vehicle.New risk factors have been placed on stalwart liquor companies such as Molson Coors, Constellation Brands and Brown Forman, according to an article on Bloomberg that quotes Cowen analyst Vivien Azer saying: “The rise of marijuana is affecting many large companies in the alcohol industry, making it critical to study the topic.”
Cowen and Company’s recent 110-page report on the state of the cannabis industry further proves that cannabis sales do take a bite out of liquor sales, a fact that the powerful liquor industry cannot ignore.
Azer authored an article entitled “Legal Cannabis is Weighing Heavily on Beer’s Buzz,” stating “In our initiation on the U.S. Cannabis industry, we asserted that increased use of cannabis presents a risk to alcohol, in particular distilled spirits (that over-index to men) and mainstream/economy beer. Data for Colorado (Denver only), Washington and Oregon support this conclusion.”
The Nielsen (liquor industry) report shows definitively that beer volumes in Denver have fallen specifically because of legal cannabis sales at all levels of the industry, and Cowen and Company’s research further states: “To be sure, admitted annual adult cannabis use of 14% falls well below the 70% that drink alcohol, and the 25% that smoke cigarettes. However, with the category having added at least 10 million consumers over the last 12 years, and with momentum building in terms of popular support and legislation, the cannabis industry is poised to generate meaningful growth. Over the last decade we have seen incidence climb for both alcohol and tobacco, across the total population, though alcohol looks to be under pressure.”
Alan Brochstein, chartered financial analyst from the investment research firm New Cannabis Ventures said, “My own view is that the legalization of cannabis for adults is a long-term issue for the alcohol industry as consumers are allowed to substitute one intoxicant for another. The impact will be slowed to a great degree by the lack of legal social use. This is why I am watching the developments in Denver so closely, as three years after legalization, one still can’t go to a restaurant or bar and enjoy cannabis publicly.”
It would appear that the liquor industry will be paying close attention to cannabis as an unwelcome competitor going forward.
While society should be celebrating the reduction in drunks on the street, fewer car accidents caused by intoxicated drivers, falling rates of domestic abuse and increased productivity due to fewer hung-over workers, it seems that those negative consequences of alcohol abuse must be tolerated as long as the investor class continues to line their pockets with liquor profits—unless, of course, they can co-opt the cannabis market and cash in on that as well.
You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.
I’m a huge fan of Manhattan-style cocktails; they make great aperitifs. This one is named after Milton “Mezz” Mezzrow, a jazz musician who lived in Harlem in the 1920s. And, as Mezz himself would have known, the term for a well-rolled cannabis cigarette was a “mezzrole”—so I just had to commemorate both man and medicine in this elegant cocktail. It combines cannabis-infused sweet vermouth, handmade cocktail cherries, and quality bourbon into a small, but well-formed, libation that’s deeply healing. When you’re infusing your vermouth, consider choosing a Sativa-Indica hybrid strain called Cherry Pie. It’s redolent of sweet and sour cherries, and it complements the toasty, oaky flavors inherent in the liquors. As for making crushed ice, it’s best to place the ice in a Lewis bag—a heavy canvas bag that’s made for the job—before whacking it with a wooden mallet or rolling pin.
4Greenish Cocktail Cherries
.5 Ounce (15 ml)Cannabis-infused Vermouth
Seasonal Wildflower Blend
1 Ounce (30 ml)Bourbon Whiskey
Muddle the Greenish Cocktail Cherries with a wooden muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon, then top with the vermouth.
Continue to muddle for 30 seconds to combine the flavors.
Cover with the crushed ice.
Top with the bourbon, then dot with aromatic bitters.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Warren and learning more about creative and entrepreneurial journey:
Can you tell us about your background?
I graduated from college with a degree in film from Emerson University in Boston. The industry didn’t smile upon me, probably because I had family in the biz and there were strict nepotism rules in the 70’s and 80’s. So I had to find something to do that wasn’t television and motion pictures. Fortunately, my parents took me to Europe with them (my late father did international law) over the years and our extensive travel and love of culture rubbed off on me. We were not hotel room diners, we ate in local places, local food/drink was the basis of my upbringing. So this influence had a major hold upon my dreams and ambitions. And growing up on a farm in Morristown, NJ that was my family’s gentleman’s farm- with horses and crops sharing the fields- certainly influenced my future endeavors. I was encouraged strongly to learn about farming, especially organic and Biodynamic techniques.
I learned to cook at the knee of Estelle Ellis, who was our family cook when I was a boy. I’ve also taken ACF and Sommelier’s classes and attended Johnson/Wales when it was located in Charleston, SC. I’ve spent time in kitchens all over starting as a pot scrubber then graduating to a dishwasher. I’m trained professionally as a saucier, soups- stocks- sauces.
How did you get into mixology?
I’ve been mixing only since 2011 or so. Mixology is new to me. I started as a bar back at 50 years old! No jobs for bartenders without experience, so again I started at the bottom and worked my way upwards.
How did you transition into making cannabis infused cocktails?
I’ve always enjoyed weed, since 14 or so when I smoked it at a concert at Madison Square Garden. I’ve also cooked with it. Made brownies. Got really stoned. I transferred my interest and passion for ingredients to Cannabis and my talent in the cocktail arena. The Cocktail Whisperer is my moniker.
How have your family and friends reacted to your involvement in the cannabis field?
My father was so disturbed when he learned of my 4th book that he disowned me. I have friends who appreciate what I’ve accomplished but in the broader reach the liquor people are concerned about weed and the weed people are concerned about liquor.
What challenges have you encountered starting out? And what challenges do you still encounter now?
Being poor. Unable to make a living. Going into bankruptcy…that sort of thing. But finding my way and hopefully making myself a success on my own and with my own talent. Challenges? Drugs are BAD!
“It would be nice to see the day when I don’t have to worry about getting arrested for my craft.”
[Use] the best craft spirits money can buy… spirits not tainted by caramel coloring, added sugar, glycol, you know- garbage spirits- I don’t use them. I suggest you don’t either. It makes sense to use craft spirits, because what I do is the highest form of craft.
What is your signature drink?
They are seasonal of course, but for the winter- I love a Bourbon Milk Punch made with Barrell Bourbon that has been infused with Cherry Pie ( a strain of Cannabis) with vanilla, heavy cream, Demerara syrup and milk with ice and Angostura Bitters. I’m also thrilled by the Mezan Guyana Rum with Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup finished with bitters infused with THC.
“The weed world is an intellectual one.”
What advice can you give to chefs/mixologists who want to get into this industry?
Be prepared to be under the influence of Cannabis and have to explain things. What kind of things? Hmmmm. just let your creativity show. And don’t cut off your fingertips while talking. Knife skills are so very important.
Remember, in most places in the country, cannabis is illegal. You must NEVER bring cannabis infused liquors into establishments with liquor licenses. Why? That should be pretty clear. Follow my instructions, experiment and by all means test the results on yourself- not on your friends!