Pot and Cocktails: The Next Frontier With Prop 64?

http://www.playboy.com/articles/recreational-weed-pot-and-cocktails

Gracias Madre

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 medical use in 28 states and legal for recreational use in nine states, including in our own capitol.

This was far from the first time issues on weed have appeared on ballots, but voters managed to pass a symbolic milestone in 2017. California passed Proposition 64, legalizing the ability for individuals over 21 to use (and grow) marijuana for personal use. Recreational marijuana is now allowed for about 20 percent of the U.S. population, and about three-fifths—nearly 200 million people—have access to legal medical marijuana.

Despite still being banned on a federal level, marijuana is on an inevitable march toward wider societal acceptance and availability via edibles and other weed-based products. And who better to talk to about its growing acceptance than with bartenders, the people who specialize in coming up with clever ways to utilize a different illicit, psychoactive substance? We first covered the question of “where are all of the weed cocktails?” in April of last year, and now that recreational use of pot is inevitable, we’re back to wondering where the two substances together are heading.

So what is exactly happening, if anything at all?


The first crucial thing to note about combining marijuana and alcohol is that not unsurprisingly, it’s very illegal to do so commercially. This includes even in states where both substances are legal separately. In Oregon, weed has been fully legalized for a year and a half, but you still absolutely may not consume it in a public place, especially if that place holds a liquor license. “It’s a huge no-no,” says Chris Churilla, lead bartender at popular Portland cocktail joint Bit House Saloon. “We as a bar take a very aggressive stance toward smoking pot anywhere on the premises. I have physically removed people from the premises and threatened to call the police. If I lose my license or furthermore am imprisoned…that is a risk I will never take, nor will I allow someone else to compromise.”

Even those who advocate mixing weed and drinks acknowledge the need to be careful. Warren Bobrow, the longtime drinks writer behind Cannabis Cocktails, perhaps the world’s first book on the topic, advocates what he calls the Thai food principle: “The first time you take someone out for Thai food, you don’t order the five-star spicy dish. You start small and work your way up” he says. “Any idiot can get everyone wasted, but I don’t recommend that.”

That’s the same advice Ry Prichard provides as well. A Denver-based writer, photographer and “cannabusiness” consultant, Prichard has been working in the legal-marijuana industry since 2010 and serves as co-host and resident weed expert for Bong Appetit, a new show on cannabis food and drinks that premiered last month on Viceland. He’s seen folks overdo it, especially if they’ve already been drinking before they consume any marijuana.

The truth is that, like combining any two drugs, mixing alcohol and marijuana can have a synergistic effect and hit drinkers harder than either substance would by itself. But because this is such a new field (and because federal law limits much research on cannabis), there’s not the same level of understanding of how weed affects the body like you have with alcohol. “There’s not an easy answer. It’s just a body chemistry thing,” Prichard says. “There’s not a good test of how impaired someone is by cannabis, and it’s gonna be a big mess trying to figure this out.”


Beyond the legal issues and the Wild West feel of the whole field, a cannabis cocktail culture is starting to come together. And one of the pioneers is Jason Eisner, beverage director for a restaurant group that operates several vegan restaurants in California, including Gracias Madre in Los Angeles. Gracias Madre’s menu includes a trio of cocktails that incorporate cannabidol (CBD), the chemical component of marijuana responsible for many of its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects, which might make him the first American bartender to ever sell a cannabis cocktail in a licensed bar. “I found a loophole,” Eisner says. He’s currently using a CBD extract called CW Hemp that’s made from hemp—basically the stems but not the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant—and is perfectly legal in all 5o states. No, really: There are many brands available on Amazon.

Eisner’s been a bartender since the late ‘90s, working everywhere from New York to Malibu, and he launched his CBD cocktails about seven months ago. He tried pot as a teenager, but didn’t really like it until a few years ago when he tried some medical-grade stuff a friend had smuggled in from California. Since then, he’s become an evangelist for pot’s beneficial effects. “With CBD, I still have my wits about me. I can go about my day,” he says. “I started putting it in cocktails because I wanted other people like me to get it too. The people hanging blacklight Cypress Hill posters in their bedrooms don’t need me to introduce them to cannabis.”

The truth is that, like combining any two drugs, mixing alcohol and marijuana can have a synergistic effect and hit drinkers harder than either substance would by itself.

But it’s not just non-psychoactive CBD that’s the subject of drinks experiments. Plenty of folks are also incorporating THC, the chemical in weed that actually gets you high. “Cannabis and alcohol went into everything back in the apothecary days,” Bobrow says. In a previous book, Apothecary Cocktails, he featured recipes for old-timey medicinal tinctures, bitters and cocktails calling for a variety of botanical ingredients, but his publisher wouldn’t let him include marijuana—that was part of the impetus for Cannabis Cocktails. Bobrow likes to take advantage of the savory and citrusy notes pot can bring to drinks, especially those on the more savory side of the spectrum.

Different strains of weed can contribute different flavors: Bobrow says indicas have a “dank, dark” flavor that goes will with brown spirits, while sativas tend to be “light, aromatic and crisp” and go well with lighter-bodied spirits like gin, tequila or mezcal. (Eisner agrees, saying his favorite spirit with CBD oil are agave spirits, which he says also improve mood: “You can’t be sad drinking a Margarita.”)

“In my personal experience, I really like the mix of marijuana and alcohol—not just the physical effects but also the flavor,” Prichard says. “Cannabis by its nature plays toward aromas that pair well with food and drinks.” He’s a fan of using terpenes to incorporate marijuana flavors in drinks without psychoactive effects. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in a wide range of fruits, flowers and plants, including in high quantities in marijuana. Several companies sell bottled terpenes extracted from different strains of cannabis—basically essential oils—and Prichard frequently uses them on Bong Appetit. (One of his favorites comes from a strain called Lemon Haze, which has a sweet and tangy note he says works well in tiki drinks.) In theory, the terpenes do not have any physical or psychoactive effect on the human body, but on the other hand, Prichard says, “the whole field of aromatherapy is predicated on the idea that these kinds of chemicals can heal.”

Terpenes helped convert Devon Tarby to the marijuana-cocktail cause as well. A bartender in Southern California for nearly a decade, she’s now a partner in and in charge of menu development for Proprietors LLC, which runs several of the country’s top bars, including Death & Co. in New York and The Walker Inn in L.A. She’s also a self-described “mostly daily” cannabis user, but she’d never combined marijuana and alcohol until she got a call from Bong Appetit’s producers to help create cocktails for an episode. “The coolest thing was being introduced to terpenes,” she says. “As soon as I figure out where to get them, I want to have them on hand at my bars.” On the show, she created an aperitif cocktail using the bitter gentian liqueur Suze, floral St-Germain and sparkling wine with an oil extracted from a pot strain that smells of fresh pine and lemon.


So where is this all headed? As a society, we’ve had centuries to build up all the rituals and norms associated with drinking in bars, but there’s really no equivalent for marijuana. “In just a few years, we’ve gone from Cheech & Chong to cancer patients or a stressed-out mom with a vape pen,” Prichard says. “But it’s still gonna be a while, if ever, until you can have a beer and smoke a joint at the same bar.”

He cites Initiative 300, passed by voters in the city of Denver in November, which establishes licenses that allow public consumption of cannabis in places like coffee shops, yoga studios and cafes—but, thanks to adjustments to the law quickly adopted by the city, absolutely not anywhere with a liquor license. “We may see the first legal cannabis clubs in America in the next six months,” he says. In the future, Prichard envisions “places separate from the bar scene but with a similar feel to a bar.”

As a society, we’ve had centuries to build up all the rituals and norms associated with drinking in bars, but there’s really no equivalent for marijuana.

If that sounds similar to the “coffee shops” that sell marijuana in Amsterdam, you’re not wrong. That’s the model Tarby thinks will develop in America as well, but she worries the fledgling industry is on unsteady ground. “Everyone is still just scratching the surface,” she says. “The last thing anybody wants is to have people who don’t know how to properly serve cannabis and ruin it for everybody.”

Eisner, for his part, is totally on board with the marijuana revolution. He’s working on a non-alcoholic canned “cocktail” made with CBD called Dope Cannabis Cocktails that he hopes to have on sale by the end of the year, as well as a cannabis cafe concept modeled on Amsterdam coffee houses in California. “This is just the beginning. We’ll even see full-on cannabis restaurants,” he says. “The next generation has made their voices heard on this issue. The federal government won’t be able to continue suppressing cannabis for very long.”

For now, most experiments in combining pot and cocktails remain hidden underground, but we’re witnessing the birth of something brand-new that’s going to change the way we get our mind-altering chemicals. “It’s already a multi-billion-dollar business,” Prichard says. “And it’s definitely not going away.”

 

MEET WARREN BOBROW, THE EX-BANKER TURNED CANNABIS COCKTAIL KING


Meet Warren Bobrow, The Ex-Banker Turned Cannabis Cocktail King

Warren Bobrow

 You’d be hard pressed to find an authority figure when it comes to cannabis cocktails. But Warren Bobrow, the author of Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics, doesn’t think that’s because the combination is a bad idea. He should know — he literally wrote the book on the subject. He’s a strong believer in a good cannabis cocktail. It’s just that everyone else (other than a few brave bar owners) is too scared to tackle the subject.

“I don’t think anyone has had the nerve to do it, nor have they found a publisher to take that type of risk,” Bobrow tells me over the phone, chuckling. “This is not a big lucrative project. I wish it was, but there’s so much preconceived stuff about it.”

There’s that, and the fact that making cannabis cocktails the right way — in a safe way that actually tastes good — is a lot harder than just throwing a couple nugs into a cocktail shaker. Luckily, Bobrow has it mastered, and it all started with a dream and a passion for quality cocktails and cannabis.

Bobrow didn’t recently jump on the cannabis trend. He says he’s been enjoying marijuana since he was 13 years old, and has experimented with putting marijuana in food. He was a banker for 20 years, but has since become a notable person in the cocktail world with four books about cocktails. Then in 2012 he read about a cannabis-infused dinner at Robertas in New York City. He noticed something curious in the story: The food had cannabis in it, but no one touched the drinks.

“So I wanted to change the world in my own way and offer something people hadn’t done before,” Bobrow says. “So I made all of my own drinks.”

Today, you don’t know cannabis cocktails if you don’t know Bobrow’s book. But for starters, here are some of the most important things to know before experimenting with cannabis cocktails.

IT’S SCIENTIFIC

“It’s not just stuffing a bunch of weed into vodka and hoping for the best,” Bobrow says. “That gives you green chlorophyll garbage that doesn’t get you stoned, it just gives you a headache.”

Bobrow’s preferred method of extracting THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is through a process called decarboxylation, or simply decarb. Decarboxylation turns THCA, a non-psychoactive compound found on live marijuana plants, into THC. To decarb, you heat the cannabis at 240 degrees for an hour (Bobrow uses a decarboxylation tool from Ardent that is microprocessor controlled).

THE QUALITY OF LIQUOR MATTERS

“Use the very best liquor you can use, no skimping,” Bobrow says. “It’s the same realm that I use in my craft cocktails. I only use small-producer craft spirits because I know that the quality is high.”

You get out what you put in. So put in the good stuff.

“All of my craft cocktails and mocktails and tonics and things that I use in the book include the use of the highest-quality craft spirits someone can buy,” Bobrow says.

DON’T OVERDO IT

“It’s very important to understand this is a psychoactive drug and too much can render the user impossibly couch-locked like I found myself once or twice,” Bobrow says.

Luckily, Bobrow has done all the experimenting so you don’t have to.

“The best advice I can give is balance,” Bobrow says, because everyone’s body chemistry is different. The results can be unpredictable, as a VinePair writer who drank weed wine found out.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET CRAZY FOR A GOOD COCKTAIL

“My drinks are not sweet,” Bobrow says. “They’re really dry, aromatic, savory, with great balance. And they’re cocktails that anyone can make with very limited time: simple, classic, crisp, beautiful.”

Bobrow’s cocktails utilize cannabis-infused bitters, cannabis cherries that he calls “greenish cherries,” and infused liquors. You don’t need 20 ingredients to make a good cannabis cocktail. Stick with the basics and infuse cannabis for the ideal cocktail.

IF YOU TRY ONE CANNABIS COCKTAIL, TRY THIS ONE

Bobrow is inspired by history. One person in particular stuck out to him: Milton Mezzrow, a jazz musician in the 1920s who sold weed to Louis Armstrong. He named a cocktail after him, the Mezzrow Cocktail. The cocktail is a mix of cannabis infused vermouth, 1 ounce of bourbon, aromatic bitters, and greenish cherries in a glass with crushed ice.

Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today by Warren Bobrow

 

From ancient times until the early twentieth century, cocktails were the domain of healers, pharmacists, and apothecaries. Tinctures, bitters, elixirs, and tonics were created from herbs, flowers, fruit, vegetables, and alcohol to cure stomach ailments, respiratory troubles, and more. Warren Bobrow’s Apothecary Cocktails draws on this rich and delicious tradition so you can make your own restorative drinks at home.

Quick Facts

Who wrote it: Warren Bobrow

Who published it: Fair Winds Press

Number of recipes: 75

Recipes for right now: Fernet Branca with English Breakfast Tea and Raw Honey, Roasted Beet Borscht with Sour Cream and Vodka, Hot Buttered Rum: The Sailor’s Cure-All, The Painkiller Prescriptive, Herbal Sleep Punch, Chartreuse Curative

Other highlights: Apothecary Cocktails is a fun and informative book for anyone who’s interested in cocktail history, herbal medicine, or who simply wants a good excuse to imbibe. Like a handbook for every season and mood, it’s organized into chapters for Digestives and Other Curatives, Winter Warmers, Hot Weather Refreshers, Restoratives, Relaxants and Toddies, Painkilling Libations, and Mood Enhancers.

Warren Bobrow includes classic cocktails, variations, and unique creations with in-depth recipe headnotes that delve into the history and health benefits of ingredients. Beyond bitters, botanical gin, absinthe, and other liquors, the recipes will have you reaching beyond the liquor cabinet for kitchen ingredients like teas, fresh fruits and herbs, and spices.

Who would enjoy this book? Home mixologists, people interested in herbal remedies, cocktail history buffs

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon:Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today by Warren Bobrow

http://www.thekitchn.com/apothecary-cocktails-restorative-drinks-from-yesterday-and-today-by-warren-bobrow-new-cookbook-196567

This 4/20, Catch A Buzz With A Cannabis Cocktail

 Like the word “gay,” the term “edible” has adopted a radically different accepted use than was originally intended. Thanks to mainstream media coverage of medicinal marijuana and the drug’s recreational legalization in seven states, plus Washington, D.C., “edibles” now generally refer to the psychoactive chemical compounds in marijuana … ingestible in the form of food as simple as a jelly bean or as gourmet as fois gras.

While basement chemists and chefs continue to elaborate on edibles, the market is looking toward “drinkables” as the next frontier in catching a high. Some weed-legal states like Washington are already licensing the sale of non-alcoholic beverages that contain THC, the chemical in cannabis that produces the buzz, and DIY mixologists are putting out cannabis cocktail recipes as fast as their minds can fire them up.

Still, the federal government, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, prohibits the addition of THC to commercial alcohol products. However, analysts expect the category to eventually ignite, and producers are positioning themselves for an inevitable rule reversal by seeking and receiving permission to infuse their products with non-psychoactive marijuana compounds like hemp and a type of cannabinoid called CBD. Some medical professionals believe CBD can actually help counter the adverse effects of THC like anxiety and has its own therapeutic properties, though controversy exists at the highest levels over whether CBD is technically legal or not.

 Despite a dim view taken by the Trump Administration and mass-market beer and liquor industries, Kyle Swartz, managing editor of three alcohol-industry magazines and editor of Cannabis Regulator predicts, “We’re absolutely going to see more crossover between cannabis and craft beer and spirits. After all, it’s the same generation that’s pushing growth in all three of those categories: Millennials.”

Not much product has hit the scene yet but it is slowly becoming, as they say, “a thing.” The category first came to my attention a few years ago with the release of Humboldt Brewing’s Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale. I don’t remember much about it other than it was pretty forgettable.

 Last year, a public relations team sent me a bottle of Humboldt Distillery’s Humboldt’s Finest vodka infused with hemp seed (yes, there is a pattern here – Humboldt County, California, can arguably be considered America’s ideological ground zero for pot growing and smoking). As in the hemp ale, the hemp seed produces no high, and distillery founder Abe Stevens tells me he had to send his vodka for tests to ensure it contained no measurable amounts of THC before the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) would approve it.

He also tells me he knows of just two North American distilleries – one in British Columbia and another in Alaska — that started selling hemp vodka before he launched his last spring but since then he’s received numerous phone calls from entrepreneurs looking for advice. In October, the TTB approved a Colorado beer brewed with CBD, which also doesn’t spark a buzz, for national sale.

“It has a relationship to the growing interest in cannabis. That’s our sales angle, as it certainly helps the story,” he says of his own spirit, which retails for $29.99 MSRP. “But the market needs this product because it’s something new and the herbal quality makes nice cocktails.”

The hemp primarily comes through in the vodka’s aroma though it can be hard to discern among the other botanicals. Plus, the smell of the hemp oils can dissipate quickly.

So if it doesn’t get you high, doesn’t taste like dank herb and doesn’t even smell like a freshly lit Rastafarian, is there really a point? Stevens, who sells Humboldt’s Finest in about a dozen states patchworked across the U.S., says he gets that question all the time, especially from the west coast.

“Sometimes with people who’re really into the cannabis culture … we specifically try and even avoid that aspect and focus on the craft cocktail aspect. In Mississippi and Georgia they don’t have a legal marijuana outlet so to them there’s possibly a lot more novelty,” he says.

Until such a time when the feds do license THC-infused spirits, Humboldt’s Finest and its competitors can find sanctuary behind the bar next to an endless range of DIY possibilities that are building the backbone of today’s craft cannabis cocktail scene. Since around 2014, magazines and websites have been teaching readers how to make (mostly illegal) THC infusions of spirits, syrups, bitters, and the like. Last year, renowned cocktail author Warren Bobrow published the first book on marijuana cocktails, called Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics – The Art of Spirits Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations and containing 75 self-tested recipes.

 “I wanted to make it into a wellness book with flavor,” says the 55-year-old conservative dresser. “I wanted to take away some of the stigmas. It’s not a ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ book, it’s thoughtfully written and beautifully photographed to add possibilities to the regiment of taking cannabis for medicinal purposes. And it’s also tongue-in-cheek.”

But its publication hasn’t brought the New Jersey-based writer much wellness himself. He’s lost consulting clients on the east coast and his father literally disowned him before he died. While his dad had his own reasons for shunning his son, Bobrow’s big-liquor friends presumably stopped associating with him because conventional wisdom says that pot cuts into sales of beer and spirits. Bobrow’s actually made this argument himself, as has Cowan and Company, which made news by entering the marijuana investment space and analyzing a Nielsen report that showed beer sales dropping in three states where the drug has become legal.

 But the jury is still very much out. Bart Watson of the Brewers Association craft beer lobbying group argues that he sees no causal effect on beer sales in the short term, and Jason Notte of Market Watch reminds readers that overall beer sales have been falling on their own, with no push from pot.

Regardless of whether legal consumption will harm or help alcoholic beverages in the long term, one aspect does need to be addressed: the effects of mixing alcohol and pot.

“This is a legitimate concern,” says Swartz. “People must be careful to pace themselves when consuming alcohol and cannabis simultaneously. But after more people learn how, I believe mixing cannabis and alcohol will become even more socially acceptable.”

Right now, it’s not necessarily publicly acceptable, even in states where it’s legal. Californians need a card to purchase weed, and a sales guy at an extraordinarily professional dispensary in Bend, Oregon, told me to furtively smoke my legally purchased $9 joint on a dark residential sidewalk instead of lighting up at the bar where my friends were enjoying craft beers, cocktails and cigars. Did I order any fewer drinks than I might have? Yes. But not because I was stoned. Rather, it’s because I had to leave the bar for 20 minutes at a time to light up in secret. Had I been able to ingest my intoxicant as an alcoholic digestible I could have sat there far longer … and I probably would have ordered even more.

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/taranurin/2017/04/19/this-420-catch-a-buzz-with-a-cannabis-cocktail/#35be3e4cd35e

Books, Cocktails, and Comfort Food

I’m good with all of these individually, but together? Forget it. Heaven.

If this sounds like heaven to you too, then save the date for Sunday, April 30th to be at the Savoy Taproom at 301 Lark Street in Albany. Warren Bobrow, otherwise known as the Cocktail Whisperer, will be there for a book signing and meet and greet. The event is from 3pm to 6pm and will feature a happy hour with drink specials from Mr. Bobrow’s books.

I’m jealous because I may not be able attend, and if I can’t, if anyone I know is going please let me know so I can give you money to purchase a book for me. The author’s books are stunningly beautiful and to have one signed would be a great add to my collection.

Warren Bobrow’s books are full of inspired recipes you will not find anywhere else. They are unique, a work of art, and full of flavor you’ve probably never tasted before.

Mr. Bobrow’s books are:

  • 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, and Elixirs
  • Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations
  • The Craft Cocktail Compendium: Contemporary Interpretations and Inspired Twists on Time-Honored Classics

 

An even bigger bonus is that it’s being held at the Savoy Taproom. If you have not been in yet to sample their amazing, comforting food – then go for that alone. I’ve attended many events here (including my own birthday party) and I have never been disappointed. The food is always on point as is the staff.

Look at this. Seriously.

If you’re interested – and I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, here are a few things to get you started:

 

 

Kurvana

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 livingcannabis 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 cherrymake 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!

-Warren

Pot and Cocktails: The Next Frontier With Prop 64?

Gallery

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

Five Tips To Simplify The Daily Grind Of A Bartender

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

Warren Bobrow

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. 

5. Punch!

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!

https://totalfood.com/five-tips-simplify-daily-grind-bartender/

Legal Cannabis Sales Threaten Liquor Industry

By  January 30, 2017

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.

Photograph: Glenn Scott 

My name is Warren Bobrow.  I have a successful career as a brand ambassador for a boutique rum brand, so why would I go and write a book about Cannabis?  Quite possibly because no one has written a book like this prior. And I really enjoy Cannabis- perhaps even more than drinking- my career is in drinking, so go figure…
And because I was able to convince my publisher that drinking Cannabis is far preferable to smoking or eating it, we went ahead and published this brand new book.

My first book, Apothecary Cocktails offered my view of the type of ‘cocktails’ that may have been enjoyed in the early apothecary.
And in full disclosure, no!!! I’m not a doctor.  Nope. But what I am is a celebrated mixologist and former trained chef who is fascinated by flavor.

So indulge me for a moment while I let you know that Cannabis appeared in the early pharmacy, not as the much vilified Snake Oil- but- quite possibly the only ingredient that actually cured anything?  I’m not sure- because again, I’m not a doctor- I don’t even play one on television.  But I do know that Cannabis has been used in the healing arts for many thousands of years.  Way before this is your brain on drugs.  (I saw this commercial again the other night.. funny!)

I wrote Cannabis Cocktails to play with flavor.  It gives the whole bagel recipe.  You shall have the ability to decarb, to infuse and to create some pretty fun drinks.  Or if you don’t want to use alcohol with your Cannabis, there are some Mock-Tails, like my Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Cannabis Infused Condensed Milk… (the perfect medium is high fat condensed milk… try it!)

There are no edibles in the book.  And I will say this and say it again.  Know your raw ingredients.  Use tested Cannabis… Remember what you learned about eating spicy Thai food.  Start slow.  Don’t have more than one cocktail per hour or more!

I’ll be sharing with you some of my creations and hope you enjoy trying them.   Meanwhile, this is how you can order my book(s).

I can be reached on Twitter: @warrenbobrow1

Cannabis Cocktails… Available on Amazon!