“What’s in the bottle is not what’s on the label,” says Warren Bobrow, handing me a small apothecary jar of amber-colored fluid. Inside is a top-shelf rum, he says, infused with high-grade marijuana — specifically, a strong indica-dominant hybrid known as Granddaddy Purple.
As laws prohibiting the use of marijuana wane, new ways of enjoying the herb emerge.
Currently 23 states and Washington DC have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana; in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, it is legal to purchase marijuana for recreational use. Many more states are introducing bills that will govern some form of legalized marijuana in the near future. And with that legalization, we are embarking upon a world of possibilities when it comes to marijuana… and cocktails.
In Oregon (where the prohibition officially ended in July of 2015) business is booming. “There’re more cannabis shops than coffee shops. It exploded. It’s everywhere,” remarks David Shenaut, Bar Director of Portland’s Raven & Rose. He paints a picture of an Oregon where the local papers are publishing guides on pairing beer with your various varietals of pot.
“Like flavor pairings, to enjoy side by side. We’re talking about a new classification of cicerone or sommelier. It’s like a sommelier of marijuana.”
With 4/20 just around the corner, it seems the perfect opportunity to discuss the merits of stirring cannabis cocktails. I’m usually hard pressed to find bartenders who really know the physical differences between stirring and shaking a cocktail—any cocktail. Now, add to that equation fragile ingredients that you may not want to pulverize and turn into overly green (read: botanical) flavors like cannabis, and those differences become even more important.
One of the most unpleasant of all overly-green flavors is mint. When it is excessively manipulated, the aromatics and essences resemble that of mud. And no one wants to drink mud. You may have witnessed this yourself in batched up Kentucky Derby cocktails, where the mint is added to the ice the day before, frozen, and then topped with bourbon just prior to serving. The end result is a muddy mess that screams for a fresh glass, new mint, and clean ice.
Why Stir Cannabis Cocktails?
The market for botanically enriched, “health” drinks have exploded over the past few decades or so. There are hundreds of products on the market that promise wellness and health, but nothing could prepare the consumer for the coming wave of micro-dosed; CBD and THC liquids made specifically for wellness. It’s true! All that is required is a healthy thirst and the desire for something different. Case in point with the Monk line of drinking botanicals. This ultra-luxury line of tiny 4 oz bottles are scientifically calibrated to micro-dose just the right amount of CBD/THC to the careful imbiber. Careful because the dosage of CBD/THC is in the micro amounts- nearly undetected after enjoying the scant few sips of this ‘magical’ elixir. What each bottle represents are flavors and health-giving qualities similar to the days of the early apothecary, when fragile herbs and spices made their way into preparations that the pharmacist concocted to order. Not unlike the early preparations that made their way to the cocktail bar with drinks meant to heal the gut, like the famous Sazerac, or perhaps you’d be interested in knowing why Angostura is so helpful when you have a stomach ache, or are seasick? It all comes around again with the deep desire to write the first book about creative mixology that uses cannabis. There is a large distinction between non-Cannabis augmented health drinks and quality products like Monk’s Drinking Botanicals. What we have here is a modern framework, one that is more flavor-driven as opposed to effect-driven, with varieties like the brightly aromatic and refreshing grapefruit/cayenne. This delicately spicy, yet not overly sweet concoction is precise and carefully combined to offer amusement, candor and excitement into every careful sip. Careful because the cayenne element is not overwhelming, but it is right there in front of the brightly delineated richness of the pink grapefruit juice. The combination resembles a fine craft cocktail- especially with the balance and the depth of the ingredients. They almost taste as if the grapefruit was freshly squeezed and infused with the cayenne peppers.
Warren is a formidable force in the food and cocktail industry. Aside from being a master mixologist and chef, he is also an accomplished writer for various publications, as well as an author of four acclaimed books, the latest of which is Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations.
From Mesopotamia to ancient Rome, people have been infusing alcohol with cannabis for as long as cannabis has been around. In recent years, cannabis-infused alcohol has seen a resurgence of public interest, due largely to the spread of legalized cannabis in the United States. Most recently, the creators of Blue Moon announced that they would develop and release their own brand of craft cannabis beer.
I love the magic of the inter-webs. Instagram, the darling of the moment has led me down many paths to enlightenment in my newest career. I’m fortunate to meet some amazing people along the path to enlightenment- at least in my own direction in life. One of these paths led me to one Cannabis Entrepreneur in particular, and this person is weaving her magic in the modern, Pacific Northwest Cannabis Industry. As an introduction to this dialogue, I’m lucky to have been accepted by a deeply spiritual world of healers -an entrepreneurial path based on our overall desire to be well and to heal. Wellness bubbles over in the universe and it encourages us to do better by others. I’m satisfied to say that through the use of Cannabis as a medicinal methodology, it has become something that explains much, without shouting or being overtly antagonistic in the methodology of altruism and smoking anywhere and everywhere. I don’t do that. I usually let my book, Cannabis Cocktails speak for itself as a life form and a method of medicating without being too overt. What I’m fortunate to do is not for everybody- but those who get it find the science beguiling and intriguing- all at the same time. Then there are the recipes of course, delightful, inspirational and candidly delicious. They get people’s attention- like my salubrious Vietnamese Iced Coffee with THC infused Condensed Milk. Yum. That one is a good intro to my craft. But I digress. Emma Chasen is doing what I wish I could do, had I the bulk of educational research and razor sharp intellectual curiosity that brims from each word in her myriad of descriptors about what makes her different that the others. Emma has the hard work, the empirical science down pat and she makes it easy to understand- and better yet, to enjoy what she has to say. So few people make words that resonate, rather than just talk to a ‘talking head.’ Emma is not that person. As usual I want to shake things up a bit and make it exciting for my readers to find out something a bit deeper about their favorite person. And in this case I wanted to know more about Emma Chasen, a disruptor and bud-tender educator, eater. In short, curious and intriguing. Thank you, Emma for being so forthright in your answers and showing your pure smile in your hunger producing words.