Whip your Bellini into Shape! by: Cocktail Whisperer, Warren Bobrow

Whip your Bellini into Shape!

Like many of the great liquid legends of cocktail artistry, the greatest drinks seem to have the largest legends behind each pensive sip.  None hold as much mystique and intrigue as the Bellini.  I love the Bellini for what it is not.  It is not sugary sweet.  It is not trendy.  It is not difficult to make.  What a Bellini is and what it has become- is history in the glass.  I’m holding a bottle of Powell & Mahoney Peach Bellini cocktail mixer in my hands and I seek greater inspiration from the whiff of tiny white peaches and the “not too sweet” finish of “summer in a glass.”

This is very sophisticated juice- worthy of the finest sparkling wines or mixers.  To say that summer is only as far away as a bottle of Powell & Mahoney is not too far of a stretch.  You cannot physically force summer upon the outside world, but inside your cocktail glass it can be summer any time you open a bottle and mix a drink.

The original history of the Bellini has been told and re-told over the decades.  Venice, Italy- the famed “Harry’s Bar” and freshly picked white peaches, gently pureed and then strained with a touch of pure cane sugar makes the best cocktail.  What I do know about the Bellini is that a proper Bellini must be prepared with the best possible ingredients.  The Peach Bellini mix that I hope you have a chance to try is exceptionally refreshing in a glass, served plain as well as with a bit of freshly drawn seltzer.  You can make a brilliant Bellini with the sparkling wine of your choice- or any of a multitude of other ingredients.

The classic preparation includes Prosecco but yours might be something else entirely.  The hit of dry fizz to the savory sweetness of creamy, white peaches can be described simply as, memorable and essential!

My parents took me to Italy when I was in my early teen years.  They did not forbid me to taste alcoholic beverages- quite the opposite in fact, there was always wine on our table at home and more wine when traveling in Europe.  Our trip to Venice was one of the highpoints of my childhood.  We took a water-taxi to the famed glass factories of Murano where many of my cocktail glasses were crafted.  I do believe and my mind’s eye recalls many unique flavors on that trip so many decades ago.

I remember it was brutally hot on this summer trip to Venice.  The glass factories are not air-conditioned and my young thirst was only compounded by the lack of water or even wine as I recall.

To blow glass, vast amounts of fire is necessary, hence the furnaces glowing nearly white hot.  Images and feelings such as these never left my mind, watching glass blown by talented artisans in a time honored method has reverberated in my memory since those days.

It’s no coincidence that the vessels that hold my cocktails are hand-blown, some from Italy, others from crafts-people trained in Italy.

There is a certain polished elegance to real Murano glass that cannot be duplicated any place else in the world.

The glass galleries of Venice are located in vast palazzio that echo with history.  Millions of dollars of glass sculptures sit next to more humble reminders of the glass-blower’s craft.  The hushed elegance of these living museums is further exemplified by the serving of Bellini cocktails, many served in glasses blown just for this purpose.  You don’t have to drink a Bellini in a Murano hand blown glass, but it wouldn’t hurt!  As I mentioned it was one of those days in Venice that the air stood nearly still and the humidity rose off the canals in vast sheets of penetrating, rippling heat.  My parents were served tall (hand-blown) glasses of peach nectar with fizzy Prosecco poured over the top.

Of course I held my hand out for one to sate my young thirst.  I can picture the sweet, yet tangy flavor of white peaches, the staccato of the Prosecco and the glass emptying itself down my throat in one fell swoop.

“Yes please, may I have another?”

With this quality product, made in “Micro-Batches” by Powell & Mahoney, you too may duplicate the utter dream-state of being in Venice.  If it’s not summer where you are, turn up the heat in your home and find yourself a glass that befits a drink of the highest quality.  And try not to duplicate the seven deadly sins, unless you want to!

In my most twisted fashion, I’ve created a cocktail that befits the classic flavors and memories of Venice, and those of Carnival, when the city is masked in intrigue and passion.

This cocktail is firmly based on the classic history of white peach nectar and Prosecco, but in keeping with my twisted sensibility I’ve taken the path less followed and twisted things up quite a bit.

You may find after several, if you have any clothes left on they will be gone soon, hence the name the Seven Deadly Sins. ( Sette Peccati Capitali)

Ingredients for several clothing and mind liberators hence the name Sette Peccati Capitali:

1 shot glass of Tenneyson Absinthe

1 shot glass of Aviation Gin from House Spirits

1 shot glass of Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

4 shot glasses of Prosecco or any dry sparkling wine (It need not be Champagne, just light and refreshing)

3-4 shots of Powell & Mahoney Micro-Batch All Natural Cocktail Mixer

Bitter End Curry Bitters

1 cup Grilled Orange Juice (Slice oranges into rounds, grill over fire or sear in a pan then juice)


In a cocktail shaker, fill 1/4 with ice

Add liqueurs except for the sparkling wine

Add Powell & Mahoney Peach Bellini Mixer

Add a couple of ice cubes to each glass

Shake and strain into champagne glasses or long cocktail glasses

Add exactly three drops of the Bitter End Curry Bitters to each glass

Add the grilled orange juice, about 1 shot per drink

Add a couple of splashes of Prosecco to the glasses that contain the liqueurs, the peach Bellini nectar and the Bitter End Curry Bitters

Fully experience this cocktail by having several!

(I won’t be held responsible for your actions!)



Photograph by Warren Bobrow with the Leica M8/Summicron F2 50mm

Kilbeggan (The Oldest Operating Distillery in the World!)

Kilbeggan (The World’s Oldest Distillery)

April 4, 2012

Is the world’s oldest distillery in Scotland?  If you said yes, then you are incorrect.  The oldest operating distillery is in Ireland.

I’m quite fond of Irish Whiskey.  You may note that Irish Whiskey is not spelled Whisky like in Scotland.  Irish Whiskey has the addition of the E at the end in a fashion similar to the way Whiskey is spelled in the United States.

Why?  I believe through my research that the extra E is meant to discuss a higher quality spirit that those without the E. This was a historic reasoning that had something to do with quality of a specific spirit. I don’t care to discuss the personal history, you can do that yourself.  This history pit country against country.  It was certainly not inclusive.

Oh, they spell Whisky without the E in Scotland.  Whatever.  I think that the exclusion or inclusion of the letter E is confusing to the consumer.  But like any interesting puzzle the historical reasoning is out there on the web.


Back in the late 80’s I had chance to travel to Ireland for the first time.  This lush country, with gorgeous,1000 shades of deep green vistas set against limitless skies. This is where passionate crafts-people, embrace the ancient methods of distillation.  The distillation arts in Ireland harkens back to a time when living off the land actually meant something.

I was fortunate to stay in Dublin- a young, raucous city filled with vivid splashes of color and light set against dark skies and brooding classical architecture.  It’s a magical place- well geared to intellectuals and also thirsty entrepreneurs.  There are authors and artists from all over the world that make their way to Dublin to study, to drink and to make history.  You can go into dozens of bars, listen to traditional music and meet poets, dreamers and best of all, drinkers.

The pubs are filled with lads and lassies who come to seek solace in a fine pint of dark and a glass of uisce beatha or water of life.  The pubs of Dublin and her denizens make this city go round and round.

I tasted Irish Whiskey for the first time at the historic horseshoe bar at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.  I was immediately hooked on the friendly, yet potent sweet water.

Ireland has amazing farmland well suited for growing grain.  The soil in Ireland is rich in many of the nutrients necessary to grow grains. Grain just happens to make excellent many alcoholic finished products.

You have a thirsty country, much rain- generally miserable weather in the winter… Made even more lovely with a finished product made from fermented grain.

With grain comes distillation- and with distillation comes Whiskey.  Irish Whiskey, is a unique product.  It tastes like no other Whiskey in my opinion and it helps me dream.  Dream you say?  Drinking Irish Whiskey for me- unlocks a liquid history of searching for round-towers and seeking lovely wool sweaters woven in specific ways to identify the wearer.  Irish Whiskey is part of the deeper social thread but is easily enjoyable in a lovely Irish Coffee.

I have the ingredients, but it’s just 8:53 in the morning.  Not a good time to start drinking when a man has writing to do!

Ireland is no stranger to the craft of distillation as witnessed by Kilbeggan.  Their handsome bottle reads 1757.  No, this is not a misprint. 1757 is when the distillery was established.  And 1757 means that this spirit is from the world’s oldest operating distillery.  Not surprising to me. Kilbeggan is a new brand to the United States although by the bottle not so new to the world!  Kilbeggan uses a 180 year old pot still.  I believe a pot still gives great character to a spirit.  There has to be something said to the distillation vessel.  It must contain memories of some sort.  It’s not just cold metal.  It has a soul.

But does this make the spirit within the handsome bottle good?  I think so.  Please let me tell you about my thoughts.

Open the tall narrow bottle, classically finished in dark lettering over a pale yellow label.  There is a hint of maroon and gold highlighting some important facts about the distillery.  Several places on the bottle the numbers 1757 appear.  The distillery is quite proud of their lineage and heritage.

Open the top and pour a healthy portion into a glass that resonates with you.  From very moment that the magical liquid hits the glass I can smell the aroma of honey and hand-scythed grains.  There is a bit of smoke way off in the finish, but nothing like drinking Scotch.

The beginning of the mouth-feel is peppery fire from the 80 proof spirit.  The aroma of Kilbeggan is haunting and centering in the room.  I want to have a taste.  It’s soft, creamy in the mouth and quite beguiling on the top of my palate.  Flavors of toasted nuts, fleur de sel, caramel and Irish Soda Bread (with extra raisins) predominate.

Add to this a healthy slathering of creamy yellow Irish butter, still warm over the toasted Soda Bread.  This tiny slurp of Ireland just goes on and on with a multi-minute finish.

This is very sophisticated stuff.  I’m especially enjoying the aroma in the room.  Bacon fat, maple syrup and hot tea.  Yum!

As a food writer I love to give the literary connections to flavors I’ve tasted in my childhood.  This directional ability seems to translate well to the world of spirits writing.

As a cook, I find it interesting, to identify many of the flavor profiles that are available in spirits.  Sure they all have brooding alcohol, that’s the point!  People drink for pleasure.  It tastes good and some even have a kick!

Flavor has everything to do with it.

Irish Whiskey is Irish history in every sip.  For me to taste creamy butter melting over a thick slice of freshly toasted Soda Bread is to encourage you to find a bottle of Kilbeggan.


Two Cocktails For Kilbeggan

1. The Sheep in the Road cocktail- meaning that group of sheep don’t appear to be getting out of the road!

Makes two rather lovely cocktails


6 Oz. Irish Breakfast Tea- chilled

4 Shots Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

Local Honey Simple Syrup (1:1 ratio of Honey to water, heat, then cool. refrigerate)


To a cocktail shaker add the Kilbeggan and the Irish Breakfast Tea

Add 4 Tablespoons of the Honey Simple Syrup

Garnish with a lemon round and a sprig of mint


2. The Cow in the Road Cocktail- meaning, there is a cow in the road up there, watch out!

Makes two cocktails of bewildering strength from the use of warming liquids, you won’t taste the alcohol, so please be careful.


Freshly Whipped Cream flavored with Kilbeggan

Hot Chocolate (your choice)

4 Shots of Kilbeggan

Sugar to taste


Make your hot chocolate and add to pre-heated mugs

Add the Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

Sip and when the cow jumps over that wall, know that there is a pub just up the way.  Someone will come to the pub and tell you to move your car!



2 Shots of Kilbeggan

Glass (preferably clean)

no ice

a bit of cool water


PreparationMoisten your brow with the water, drink the Whiskey and have another





The Last Pirate Ship (Rhuby from Art in the Age)

I created this original recipe for Art in the Age out of Philadelphia.  My friend Steven Grasse is the lead protagonist of this Public Relations, Marketing, Advertising and Brand Re-invigoration firm.  It’s hard to put a finger on what they do best.  I just like what they do!


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Philadelphia – August 30, 2011

Bid Farewell to Summer with The Last Pirate Ship

Make a Cocktail with Art in the Age’s Rhuby

the last pirate ship cocktail recipe!

Art in the Age’s Root and Snap liqueurs created quite the buzz. Now, the collective is causing another stir with its much-anticipated spirit Rhuby, made of rhubarb, pink peppercorn, petitgrain, and other organic ingredients, based on a Revolutionary era recipe.

According to legend, Benjamin Franklin and botanist John Bartram tinkered with brewing rhubarb tea back in 1771. The boozy variation is now on shelves, just in time for a late-summer libation created by modern-day mixologist Warren Bobrow.

The Last Pirate Ship
Serves one

2 oz. Rhuby
1 oz. fresh lime juice
4-5 strawberries
Fleur de sel
1 sprig of thyme

1. Combine ice, Rhuby, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker.

2. Toast strawberries in a cast iron pan.

3. Muddle strawberries and add to cocktail shaker.

4. Shake and strain into a rocks glass, sprinkle with fleur de sel, and garnish with a thyme sprig.

Available at most Fine Wine & Good Spirits shops; online at finewineandgoodspirits.com. For more information on Rhuby, go to artintheage.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Foodista: Five New Drinks

5 New Drinks: Low Country Style-influenced by the Belmont-surreal

March 14, 2012

There is an easy going congeniality in Charleston, South Carolina.

I lived in Charleston during the 1980’s, started a fresh pasta business, attended Johnson/Wales- cooked and bartended at the Primrose House and Tavern- then left after Hurricane Hugo crashed the party.

I never returned.  There were many ghosts that I had to deal with intermixed with feelings about the this town, like no other that I’ve ever lived.  My dreams of Charleston from the past have haunted me for years.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica M8


It’s that kind of place.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica M8


From the dripping Spanish Moss to the whisper soft voices of the way people speak down in Charleston, I’ve felt like it was a part of me for longer than I can imagine.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica M8


I drove non-stop from Morristown to Charleston.  Food and fuel the only real stops.

This gracious lady of the New South, is as elegant as ever. She has been recreated with pleasure as her first name.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica M8

All ravages of Hurricane Hugo have been erased like the rapid progression of the Kudzu vine across the Low Country landscape.  Erasing the past in a swath of green.

I discovered a city that had grown up, yet still retains her “village by the sea” appeal and candor.

There is serious food here now and serious drink.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica DLux-4

The chefs are filled with a passion for local, fresh, terroir and the brilliant flavor of the ocean.  There is something about the nature of the pluff mud, tidal flats that makes the water alive with possibilities.

Photo: Warren Bobrow - Leica DLux-4

In a former life I lived in Portland, Maine.  Portland was similar in my imagination to Charleston from a perspective of friendly to really great seafood.  It’s just freezing there!  Too cold for me!

Oysters in South Carolina taste like no where else in the world.  They are just about ravishing with a crisp glass of Rum!  While in Charleston I was fortunate to snag a mini-bottle of Striped Pig Rum.  This is the real thing. I would drink it with a splash of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water and a slice of Meyer Lemon.  Maybe a splash of Sweet Iced Tea- but that would cover up the sublime freshness of Striped Pig.  This rum is redolent with the flavor of the place.  It’s creamy-has a lovely finish of cane juice to heat to spice.  I’m tasting it straight from the mini-bottle.  No mixer but air.

This is fabulous Rum.  I simply cannot wait to enjoy another cocktail with Todd Weiss, the owner of the Striped Pig distillery.  The Gin Joint was, as you said… World class.  There’s just something about cocktails down here.  Maybe it’s the air, soft and laced with salt.

Here is Todd’s Twitter address:  @Dstilld

Photo: Warren Bobrow - iPhone (ancient technology)


Oyster Skiff Cocktail


Striped Pig Rum

Tenneyson Absinthe

Perrier Sparkling Water

Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Autumn Plums

Arizona Bitters Lab “Figgy Pudding” Bitters


2 Shots of Striped Pig to a shaker filled 1/2 with ice

1/2 Shot Tenneyson Absinthe

4 Tablespoons of Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Autumn Plum

1 Medicine Dropper full of the Figgy Pudding

Shake and strain into a tall glass with some ice made from Coconut water




Charleston is a place of all kinds of possibilities. They embrace their history and catapult into the future.  It’s like a living museum.

The Belmont Lounge is located on a part of King Street that one would not venture to in the 1980’s.  Visually I remember a mostly bombed out area, nearly void of soul and life.

You would not want to walk there during the day and at night, well, I never did.

I lived on Charlotte Street and spent Hurricane Hugo in a kitchen house at #29.  It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever experienced.

Now upper King Street is buzzing with activity.  I must admit that the first time I ventured above Calhoun Street, I was a bit concerned for safety.  No more.  The Charleston PD don’t just drive the streets, they walk them, bike them and make sure the area is very well observed.  I’m impressed.

I wandered in off the street to find a cocktail lounge worthy of New York or even Barcelona.  The groove was apparent in the lighting and the screening of “The Big Sleep” in glorious Black and White on the wall.  The lighting, low and sensuous- the music not overwhelming.  People spend more time talking than using their smart phones. They interact with the extremely congenial bar staff who genuinely have the knack and gift of gab.  There is an Italian machine meant for slicing Salumi and a very high quality espresso machine for turning out perfect Irish coffee, topped by a thick mantle of cream.  The bartenders are shorn in crisp white shirts with skinny ties.  A bright red B for Belmont graces the bottom the tie.

Even the cocktail napkins are emblazoned with the B.  Nice touch.  I wanted one, but thought it better to ask first.  (I didn’t take one)

The salumi is brilliant, the cured pork redolent of fat and smoke, a perfect panini of melted tomato and mozzerella cheese delights!  Too much food!  Pickled vegetables abound, was that pickled okra?  I really must be showing my Yankee inclinations now!

Yes, judging by the bar, I felt right at home.

I met Joey Ryan at the bar. He has an easy-going style and friendly demeanor that is instructional and kind.

He invented a cocktail known as the Off-Duty Bartender.  My friend Federico Cuco down in Argentina would be proud of this drink because of the use of Cynar.

I’m reproduced it here with my complements:

Absinthe Rinse  (add Absinthe to a glass with ice and water, then pour out.. preferably into my mouth)

2 oz 100 proof Rye I prefer Rittenhouse
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 Punt e Mes

Stir ingredients in mixing glass while rocks glass is chilling with Absinthe rinse.

Strain ingredients in chilled glass after discarding ice.  add large rock, and top with orange bitters.

Joey Ryan
The Belmont Lounge
511 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403

Joey, Hat’s off to you and the Belmont.  I could spend much time in your care.



Yesterday I was contemplating Pimms Cup.  The addition of lemonade is particularly inviting.   I added to the mix by the inclusion of Absinthe.  Somehow the very mention of Absinthe makes me think of two places.  New Orleans and Charleston.  Two very European cities firmly grounded in the United States.

Woolworth’s Lunch Counter Surprise



Lucid Absinthe

Fresh Lemonade

Sweet Ice Tea

Freshly made seltzer


Add 2 Shots of Pimms to the fresh Lemonade and Sweet Iced Tea

Add 1 Shot of Lucid Absinthe

Top with freshly drawn seltzer

Garnish with a home cured cherry (essential!)

Swing on the porch swing to make the pain go away



Pluff Mud Cocktail


Snap (USDA Certified Ginger Snap Liquor)

Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon

Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters

Hot Chocolate


Make a nice cup of Hot Chocolate

Add 2 Shots of Snap

Add 1 Shot of Knob Creek

Add 3 drops of the Bitter End Bitters

Makes two rather lovely cocktails perfect for a cool night or dessert




Sullivan’s Island Smash

2 Shots of Striped Pig White Rum

1 Shot Cane Syrup

1 Shot Freshly squeezed orange juice

4 ozs. Coconut water (sweetened)

Coconut Water Ice


To a cocktail shaker, fill 1/3 with regular ice

Add liquors

Add juice

Add Coconut Water

Shake and strain into small rocks glasses with Coconut Water ice cubes

Smash the Coconut Water cubes in a towel for maximum extraction of flavor!

Garnish with fresh mint and freshly scraped nutmeg- ESSENTIAL!!!


All Photography by Warren Bobrow with Leica M8, 50mm Summicron F2

Branch Water

Branch Water

WARREN BOBROW grew up on a biodynamic farm in Morristown, New Jersey. He is a reluctant cocktail/wine writer and a former trained chef/saucier.



Photo credit: Warren Bobrow
I first learned about branch water, or branch as it was called, from my governess, Estelle Ellis.  She and her husband were from Georgia.  She’s gone now, but my memories of her are quite vivid.  She taught me how to cook, not by telling me but by showing.  She was very kind to me and I still honor her memory by retelling her culinary stories that I learned in the kitchen of my grandparents’ “big house,” where I spent much time as a child.

She held the tenets of the older and slower ways near and dear to her, evidenced by the smile that came through in the way she spoke about ingredients, the ancient cast iron pans she used in cooking, and especially the way she took a cool glass of locally gathered branch for good health.  She believed that branch was life-giving.  Everything in her kitchen had a meaning, especially when it came to the flavors and aromas of times gone by.  Branch was a part of my childhood as much as her peach pies made with fresh peaches from my grandparents’ orchard.

There was a patient cadence to the way Estelle spoke- the words that she chose and the descriptions of the way things ought to taste have resonated in my mind since I was a boy.  In a few words there were meanings for everything in life.  She used to tell me that it was time to “put-up” fruits for the long winter months in NJ.  The apples were made into applesauce, and some made their way into the winter as Apple Jack.  The peaches that didn’t make it into a lard-crusted pie were soaked in strong southern whiskey for a late night nip after the day’s chores were finished. This woman took care of my family in a way that is lost to time.  She taught me lessons by using ingredients so fresh that the dew hadn’t even begun to be absorbed by the flesh of the fruit.

She would add a bit of this locally gathered water to a drink- correcting it.  Adding a bit of branch to a glass of Bourbon, as I learned in later years, connects that specific drink in your hand to the past.

What is branch and where does it come from?

Branch- by nature of its provenance is sweet water.  Perhaps the definition is the nature of the Branch itself.  We all idolize the purity of a hidden spring that only exists in our dreams.  Branch is the liquid sweetness that flows unhindered from the ground.

Branch can sometimes be seen oozing up and evaporating immediately when it hits the air or it can make a cheerful bubbling sound as it bursts forth. Sometimes the branch erupts from the earth as a gurgle, almost like a belly laugh.

Branch can also be as kind and gentle as a bedtime story.

To truly enjoy branch you must capture it in the place where it comes up from the earth.

The spring up near our home is located in a spirit-filled place formerly inhabited by George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War.  Estelle told me about this spring, it was where she gathered her Branch.  To get to the spring you must walk down the ancient camp roads- it’s over there a bit, by the base of that long gone oak tree.  You can tell there was a giant tree at one time by the number of smaller trees emanating out into the forest.  Its progeny has spread throughout the woods and their roots still feed a sweet vanilla flavor into the earth.

The water bubbles up to ground level meeting the air in a hushed flurry of activity, for this well is an artesian well.

The branch that flows from this spot tastes as sweet as cotton candy on the first day of the state fair!

How would it taste with a tin bucket of the White Dog? A splash or two of branch in a pail of freshly drawn white whisky is illuminating to say the least. The sweetness it emits meets the fire from the freshly drawn whiskey and makes a carousel dance around on your tongue.  Purists may scoff at cutting whiskey with water- but it’s the way I like to drink it. And you don’t use very much.

A Branch Water Cocktail

Take some of that really old Bourbon that you’ve been saving for a special occasion down from the top shelf.  Carefully open the bottle and pour it into your grandfather’s favorite glass that you keep away from curious hands.  Visit the hidden spring with your bottle and glass in hand and gently scoop a bit of the cool branch into your hand just as it emanates from the ground.  Moisten your fingers in this water, feel the minerals in it – rough against your hand.  Taste some of the sweet water in its cool, pure state, precious like fine jewels.  Now, please scatter just enough of the branch that fits between your thumb and forefinger over your glass of Bourbon.

Contemplate your ancient cocktail, sipping with reverence and passion.  Take another sip and roll it around on your tongue.  Swallow it slowly, taking in lots of air while you taste it.  This is important because certain environmental influences are as important as the flavor of the branch mixing with your Bourbon.  If it’s a day in the fall and you’re alone in the forest, crunching your feet through the leaves, you can almost taste this aroma in the air.  Aroma absolutely changes the way you perceive flavor through memory so take an aromatic note of the place while you sip cocktail and remember.

Gently slurp this precious brown liquid through your lips and smile.

And after you finish drinking, think of Estelle with her glass of branch and a slice of warm peach pie at the ready.

Rebel Rouser or is it the Rabble Rouser?


Warren Bobrow’s Cocktail Hour – The Rabble Rouser Cocktail

I just spent the past week down at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. This explains why there wasn’t a Friday cocktail last week. I was too busy. In between judging the Iron Mixology Competition and that lovely party at Nathalie Dupree’s home- time just slipped away from me. Maybe it was the soft Southern accent, or the Antebellum architecture.

Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the lovely luncheon I enjoyed at Martha Lou’s Kitchen, feasting on a fried pork chop with a side of textbook macaroni and cheese- I’m getting hungry all over again. Almost makes the 15- hour drive from New Jersey to Charleston and 16 hours to return home worth while.

If you are ever in Charleston, South Carolina- please visit Martha Lou’s Kitchen over on Morrison Drive. Order the fried chicken or a fried pork chop.

Don’t deny yourself a large cup of sweet iced tea. It’s so sweet that your teeth will ache for days afterwards and if you have the chance, please say hello to Martha Lou for me.

She’s a true American treasure- Don’t let Saveur Magazine tell you that- they did already.

This leads me to the cocktail of the week. It is called the Rabble Rouser. Not because I am one- perhaps in a small way, yes I am- more of a Rebel Rouser than a true dyed in the wool Rabble Rouser- but I digress. This cocktail is better enjoyed by the bucketful. In a crowd? Certainly yes.

I like to stir things up. It is my métier.

Cocktails like this one can create a certain tension. This means to an outsider, to stir up trouble. I’ve always said of myself- trouble finds me.


Rabble Rouser Cocktail

1. 2 shots Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey or your choice of Bourbon

2. 1 shot Lucid Absinthe or your choice of Absinthe

3. Regan’s Bitter (citrus) a couple of shakes or Fee Brothers Orange Bitters

4. Grade B Maple Syrup a few drops

Preparation: To a cocktail shaker add ½ with ice.

Add the Bourbon to the Absinthe

Add bitters and maple syrup

Shake and strain into a short cocktail glass.

(Similar to a Sazerac)

Cardinal Gin and.. trouble= a Friday Cocktail for Modenus


Warren Bobrow’s Cocktail Hour: The Cardinal Gin Mind Liberator

Gin has percolated deeply into my dreams as of late. I’ve been dreaming about a perfect Gin and Tonic that I enjoyed down in Charleston, SC during the recent Wine/Food Festival. There wasn’t very much of it, Gin can be very dangerous in hot weather.

There is something about being in the humidity and saline tinged air that drives a thirst for aromatic, crisp, thirst quenching and pleasing cocktails. In the ninety- degree weather, a refreshing Gin and Tonic became more than just a sum of the parts. This Gin and Tonic was exactly what I thirsted for. The cocktail had tonic water, nothing fancy, Schweppes served in little bottles (nice touch) and the size of the cocktail, was one of those little tasting glasses, just enough to whet my whistle. I was sated quickly, enough to find out more about this very delicious Gin.

Cardinal Gin is a new brand to the market. I like to try to discover passion in my spirits writing. It’s important for me to help the craft distiller with the brainpower and passion about what it takes to launch a distillery. I can visualize their dream and though the application of the myriad of Social Media, get their name out there in ways they never thought possible.

Flavor is the major determinate. You don’t go into the spirits business to make something that tastes like someone else’s product. It’s all about individuality and American ingenuity!

Cardinal Gin for example is all about flavor. The Company is named SAS- Southern Artisanal Spirits. I like that, the name of their company is catchy and memorable. They are located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on King’s Mountain in North Carolina.

Their ingredients are all organic- a major plus in my mind. I’ve always made an extra effort to seek out producers who use organic methods.

Sure they’ve won some awards- big ones. But a Gin shouldn’t just taste good to the judges; it should also taste good to me. And in that tent, down in Charleston, in the ninety- degree heat, a Gin and Tonic made with Cardinal Gin was as satisfying as the first time I ever tasted Gin as a boy. My sip said FLAVOR!

I suggest trying to find some. You can buy it down South and I think they will be in the Northeast before long. The packaging is really fantastic with the bright red cardinal bird etched into the glass, visible from the front- but you don’t drink the bottle. The flavor is reminiscent of cream, freshly cut flowers and toasted citrus.

I’ve tasted many Gins, but none like this one.

Gin is becoming my go/to for real flavor- I suggest trying some soon on the rocks with a chunk of blood orange or… try this cocktail (below)


A Quite Twisted Cardinal Gin Mind Liberator Cocktail (serves two)


Botanical Gin (Cardinal, Bulldog, Hendrick’s, Martin Miller)

Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

Lucid Absinthe

Charred Lemonade- griddle lemons then juice into lemonade sweeten to taste with Royal Rose Syrups (your choice)

Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water

Angostura Bitters


Griddle Lemon rounds until charred, juice them and strain you’ll need about 8 oz total so get to work!

Add Simple Syrup like the one from Royal Rose (use your choice of flavors)

2 Shots of Botanical Gin

1 Shot Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur

1 Shot Lucid Absinthe

Fill cocktail shaker 1/3 with ice

Add liqueurs and three shakes of Angostura Bitters

Shake and double strain into low champagne glasses (coupe’)

Finish with a splash of the Perrier Sparkling Water and a home cured cherry!

The Single Barrel from Jack Daniel’s is world class in every way

On Whiskey: Macallan Single Malt v Tennessee Sippin’

Features, On Whiskey | November 15, 2011 by admin | 0 Comments

WARREN BOBROW is the On Whiskey columnist for OKRA. He grew up on a biodynamic farm in Morristown, New Jersey. He is a reluctant cocktail/wine writer and former trained chef/saucier.


A quick, yet highly focused tasting of the Macallan Single Malt Scotch vs. 2 offerings of Tennessee “Sipping” Whiskey

My old friend Becky once told me that she’d “rue the day” that I called Tennessee “sipping” whiskey bourbon. She said that only a “damned Yankee” would be confused enough to call Jack Daniel’s bourbon.

Tennessee “sipping” whiskey is not bourbon. The char, smoke, and charcoal filtering make Jack Daniel’s unique in the dichotomy of whiskey. There is the rub.  The smoke, the char, and the power.

Macallan, on the other hand, is an extremely fine Scotch whisky. The most immediate difference between Tennessee whiskey and Scotch whisky is not that one is spelled with an e, and the other without- but the terroir, or taste of the place.  Scotch just tastes different.

I recently received a bottle of Macallan whisky and set to comparing this benchmark 12 year old single malt whiskey against the very American slurp of whiskey.  What I discovered is quite profound.  The Tennessee whiskey is every bit as sumptuous and delicious as the kindred cousins from across the pond.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select

Notes of fire-toasted pecans give way to a smoky, peat-laden mid-palate.  Flavors of sweet cream and sweet vanilla gelato enrobe your palate with sharper notes of scorched toffee and treacle pudding.  This is a very sophisticated slurp of liquid American History.  The finish goes on and on and right into the robust 94 proof finish.  The price is usually about forty-five dollars and is worth every sip.

Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey

Lighter in color than the Single Barrel Select, this whiskey is more akin to a blended Tennessee whiskey. The high price is from a double application of the “Lincoln Country Process.” In other words, filtering the spirit through charcoal- twice for a more mellow taste.  The barrels are charred and often make their way to Scotland at the end of the aging process.  Like what you taste? It rests in the cask for about four years.  Be prepared to fork over about twenty- five dollars for the pleasure.

Macallan Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (12 year aged in Sherry Oak Casks from Jerez, Spain)

Pure lust is the first thing I taste when I drink Macallan Sherry Cask Scotch Whisky.  The nose is smoke, peat and wet wool shorn from sheep accustomed to living outdoors.  There is a fire burning in the fireplace in the cottage and it is a slow burning peat fire – smoldering and giving off little bursts of wet soil; charred wood; more wet wool; sweet toffee; and a lingering, charming, dried fruit finish.  The Sherry nose is immediately apparent through the attack of sweet/spicy and the sophisticated elegance is long lasting in your glass.  There is no doubt that this is Scotch whisky (spelled without an e) The taste of the place – oily, salty, and dripping with history – will stay on your palate for minutes, leading to hours to the eventual finish.  Twelve years in the barrel only means one thing- a classic single malt passion.   I wouldn’t say that I prefer the Scotch whisky to the Tennessee sipping whiskey.  What I will say is that they are very similar in nose, follow, and finish.  You can expect to pay about fifty dollars for the pleasure.

Which one is better?  I’ll leave that to you.

I will say that the Single Barrel from Jack Daniel’s is world class in every way.


The Blackadder (Scotch you will never be able to find)

On Whiskey | March 14, 2012 by admin | 0 Comments

WARREN BOBROW is the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Tableon Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey. He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. He has published over three hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles. In addition to OKRA Magazine, Warren writes for Williams-Sonoma’s Blender Blog and Foodista.http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com

Imagine, if you will, a liquor company that is able to source a single barrel of whisky at a time.  In an age where liquor companies are trying to produce more and more of their product to slake the thirsts of thousands of thirsty drinkers- there is one company that is decidedly set on satisfying only a couple of hundred- it that!

Enter the Blackadder.  You many remember the BBC Television show by the same name.  If you do, you’re half way there.  The Blackadder was a dark comedy on British television and in many ways the philosophy of  this television show is evident in every sip of the Blackadder!

There is stuff in every bottle of Blackadder.  This stuff is from the inside of the casks!  Blackadder is not filtered or blended.  It is bottled at Cask Strength.

The Blackadder is a one of the most unique single malt Scotch whiskies that I’ve ever tasted. My friend Raj facilitated this tasting by sending me four hand numbered bottles.

1.      Lochranza Distillery- 2011- Raw Cask- label reads that it contains its natural Cask Sediments as well as all the natural oils and fats.  Mmmm, that’s what I like to hear.  The Lochranza  is bottled at 104.8 proof.  At the bottom of the informative label it reads Sherry Puncheon.  I suppose this means that the Scotch was aced (finished) in used sherry casks.  Bottle 82 of 548, Bottled 14th of October 1996

2.      Mannochmore Distillery-1999-Raw Cask- label reads that is also contains its natural Cask Sediments as well as the natural Oils and Fats.  Label reads Speyside malt whisky- one of only 304 bottles drawn at Cask Strength from a single oak cask no.5400 bottled by Blackadder in November 2011. 121.2 Proof 12 years old

3.      Blair Athol Distillery- 1999- 1st September 1999.  Reads: This Highland malt whisky is one of only 462 bottles drawn at Cask Strength from a SINGLE REFILL SHERRY BUTT, marked bottle 66 out of 462. 114.6 proof 12 years old

4.      Blackadder Smoking Islay- The Spirit of Legend-11 year old Islay Malt Scotch Whisky Raw Cask- 118.8 proof- Distilled 12th April 2000, bottled August 2011.

All the whiskies read that they are bottled from carefully selected casks.  They do not chill filter or otherwise filter their whiskies through small filter pads to remove sediment.  No two casks of Whisky are ever exactly alike because of the type of oak used and the conditions under which it is stored.

Like fine wines, these naturally bottled whiskies may throw a little sediment.  Now we’re talking!

I love wines with stuff in them.  Why not whisky?  Why not!?

Tasting Notes:  I did all the tastings in front of a blazing wood fire after eating a rib steak sandwich with Swiss cheese and grainy French mustard on Pechter’s Rye bread.  I used a tiny bit of spring water to open up the Whiskies. No ice.  A Maine tumbled granite sea-stone (frozen overnight) provided a bit of chill- to cellar temp.  Truth is this tasting is highly un-scientific.  You will never read scores from me.  I find them incongruous.

1.      Lochranza Distillery- I’ve woken up in a honey bee nest.  My skin is covered in honey and the bees are giving me little tiny nips with their stingers. Not enough to hurt, just enough to know they are there.  Pure smoke lingers on the periphery. It’s the beekeeper- smoking out the bees.  It tastes of peat and smoke-honey and dark stone fruits. Luscious stuff- the finish just goes on and on.

2.      Smoking Islay- the fire in the fireplace is giving off that tell-tale smoky scent of wet wood.  There is the scent of wet-dog and wet clothing and wet leather.  Spanish leather at that.  What does Spanish leather taste like? Come off your horse in the pouring rain, the last thing you remember before you bury your face in the mud is licking your saddle on the way down.  That’s what Spanish leather tastes like.  Candy sugar on the tongue and deep inside my throat gives way to sweet honey and freshly cut grasses.  There is some citrus in there too. Almost a wine like nose- if the wine was a very well aged Muscadet that is.  I love this stuff.

3.      Blair Athol Distillery- There is wind blowing through my hair- tinged salt water and more wildflower honey, a farmhouse comes into view and there is a fire in the chimney- yet the residents are not aware of the pending disaster.  Approaching the house I realize there is no fire in the chimney, it is coming from a peat fire in the backyard.  But no matter- there is fire and salt and smoke.  Honey gummy bears on the tongue with little bursts of sweet rock candy in the finish.  This is awfully sophisticated.  Thick perhaps. Creamy.

4.      Mannochmore- What can I say about perfection.  With a splash of cool spring water I am transported to a foreign country without grasp of the language.  This Speyside whisky is frightening in its depth and grip. I taste more honey and salt- smoke and smoked salmon- yes Scottish smoked salmon in the finish.  Salty. Salty Salty. Golden honey in color- there is stuff in the bottle. Scotch is not usually my go-to on spirits but with bottles of whisky as sensual and delicious as these in my cabinet, the frosty winter winds may blow- causing me no immediate harm.   Thank you Raj for being so generous with gifts of perhaps the best whisky you can find.


Pappy Van Winkle (My article “on Whiskey” for Okra Magazine in New Orleans)

On Whiskey: Pappy Bourbon

On Bourbon, On Whiskey | February 1, 2012 by admin | 2 Comments

TwitterWarren Bobrow is the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Tableon Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey. He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. He has published over three hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles. In addition to OKRA Magazine, Warren writes for Williams-Sonoma’s Blender Blog and Foodista.

Photo by Warren Bobrow

There comes a time in everyone’s drinking history that they aspire to seek the very best that money can buy.  Be it a bottle of wine, a bottle of Port- or in my case a bottle (or two) of Bourbon.  The Holy Grail for my drinking history was reached about five years ago when I received several bottles of pre-1960 Bourbon.

To some, present company included, the gift of a bottle of Bourbon is a high honor.  When FedEx arrived yesterday bearing a rather large box, hailing from Kentucky- I knew something special was inside.  Carefully unwrapping the bottles, their inner glow revealed themselves as the extremely rare and utterly profound bottles of Pappy.

But what is Pappy?

Those of us who follow the art and history of making bourbon aspire someday to be able to taste the liquid charms of Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon.  It’s not inexpensive stuff- I don’t want to quote prices, but you can look that up.  Is this a considerate gift to someone who appreciates the very best?  You can bet your last nickel on it.  But I will tell you, you need to rub your nickels together and hope they meter out a bit more than the amount needed to wet your lips with this magical elixir. There are few bottles of anything distilled that even approach the charm and subtlety of Pappy.

Pappy is not for everyone- just as a bottle of a First Growth wine may not please everyone.  Good taste comes at a price.  But good taste is tough to come by since very few bottles are produced each year.  If you see some on the shelf at your local bar,  it must be a very special place because most people don’t even know about Pappy.

They call their method of making their bourbon “wheated. ” This means the process uses corn, wheat, and, barley instead of corn, rye and, barley.  Pappy ages gently and produces a softer finish than its peers on the bourbon shelf.   They say it ages more gracefully. I say it is unlocked history in your glass.

I would also go so far to say that each taste unlocks more than just memories of the past.  The deeply aromatic flavor of this bourbon helps you create new memories of the present through the finely tuned craftsmanship of the past.

Tasting Notes:

Pappy Van Winkle 15 year- is it me or is the 15-year more powerful than the 20 year?  Well, first let me tell you what’s on the label.  It reads very clearly 107 proof.  The first things I taste are wild gathered acorns on the nose- followed closely by the unmistakable scent of saddle leather.  The heat of the 107 proof touches every part of my mouth and the finish just goes on and on.  This is not your typical Bourbon and cola sip- I think if you were to mix it you’d be on your own.  I’m not suggesting any mixing.  Ok, maybe a sprinkle of Branch.  But that’s it.

Pappy Van Winkle 20 year- Soft dew coated white flowers give way to the flavor that only time in the barrel can give- it’s soft to the tongue- easy to savor- easier to swallow and images of charred wheat bread smeared with sweet butter and apricot jam come into view.  This is very sophisticated stuff- certainly not for just anyone.  In fact just anyone can buy it, but good luck finding it.  Extremely rare.  Entire websites are dedicated to finding out when the next batch will be released- doubtful that you can find it?  Well, you’re halfway there.  The way that this liquor is made- they do so little of it- wealthy people just buy it up.  Again, I’m not telling you how much it costs- but a healthy part of your mortgage payment will just about cover the price of admittance!

Not everyone will like the softer, rounder flavors of Pappy 20.  They might say, save your money and buy one of the overly oaked barrel aged Bourbon varieties that clog the shelves of your local spirit shop.  To me, many of them just taste the same.

Let me tell you- and you can quote me on this.  Pappy 20 and the 15 year old versions are things of rare beauty.  I drank my tastes in a small glass with a polished hunk of Maine granite. (Frozen in the freezer overnight)  You really can do what you want with it as far as mixing or adding ice- but I don’t recommend it- just like I’d never add crushed ice to a glass of the uber-expensive white wine named Le Montrachet. And some people like to do that too!

Of course you can do anything you want, after all it’s your hard-earned money that purchased a bottle.

I’m just saying that it’s just not recommended, so I’m not making any mixing suggestions.  Of course if you want to sprinkle some freshly gathered Branch water over the top, please feel free to do so.   And do so with reverence.

But please enjoy with restraint and create your own memories!