One of Ardent’s latest customers and biggest fans, Warren Bobrow, also known as the “Cocktail Whisperer,” has been experimenting with cannabis tinctures and infusions for decades, and is one of the first to publish an elegant book on the subject detailing his recipes. We asked Warren to tell us about it and share one of his craft cocktail recipes to help cool you off this summer!“Before I discovered the NOVA Decarboxylation device, I was literally throwing money down the drain. Decarbing cannabis is not usually an easy task. There are dozens of methods shown on the web to decarb and none of them are perfect. If you are using your toaster oven or your regular oven to decarb, stop right now, you’re wasting hard-earned money! I wish I knew about the NOVA when I was writing my book; Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, & Tonics. Perhaps the recipes would have turned out more uniformly?! I believe so, having tested the Ardent several dozen times and in many different applications.To fully convert the Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, heat must be used at a specific measure, for a specific period of time. If you mess up the heating part, this leads to wasted money, time and healing! Decarbing with the NOVA makes life easy. Everything you need to do is plug and play. Open up the top of the handsome device. Add cannabis to the metal container inside, replace the silicone lid, then place the hard-plastic top on and press start. That’s it! No dialing in temperatures and hoping that the thermostat on your toaster or regular oven is correct. This product makes it easy, and perfect.THC-Infused Vietnamese Ice Coffee is one of the easiest craft cocktail recipes that I make, and it has no alcohol in it. That’s not to say you can’t add a portion of rum to the mix; please use less of it because of the cannabis.
*Use code “ACTIVATE” for $30 off a decarboxylator at www.ardentcannabis.com and make your own cannabis cocktails (or anything else you could possibly imagine!) Choose expedited shipping at checkout and receive it in time for Father’s Day!
From Men’s Journal; by G. Clay Whittaker
Cannabis is a bit like wine: there are different species, dozens of hybrids, and a world of marketing that makes buying the right kind seriously confusing. For the average customer, the differences between Orange Kush or Blueberry Lamsbread are likely no more clear than the nuances that differentiate a Tavel from a Mouvédre Rosé. Fortunately, there’s really only one thing the average pot smokers needs to know to get by — whether they’re an indica or sativa kind of smoker.
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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.”
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 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.
I’m a huge fan of hot-weather beverages. Right now, it’s anything but hot out, but this little mocktail will transport you.
This time of year can be warm and sunny, or it can be thanklessly cold and rainy. It may officially be spring, but we are experiencing the occasional icy wind that goes right through you.
That’s where Vietnamese-style, freshly crushed sugar-cane juice comes in. This scintillating liquid — extracted from the stalk using a machine that resembles a sausage grinder — is refreshing, and come summer, it’ll stave off the heat and humidity with alacrity.
Saint Patrick’s Day is coming, Klaus recommends you try a Green Dragon for the wearing of the green!
In the Mind of An Author, Journalist & Chef: Warren Bobrow
I am so excited to share my passion for cannabis with the esteemed company—Kurvana. I was charmed by two 510 Kurvana cartridges enough to go to their website and poke around. The social media landscape in real time makes for many such rabbit holes, so I didn’t know what I was in for. What follows is my first-hand experience with two Kurvana strains: Pineapple Express, this month’s SOTM, and True OG, a classic.
I have written several books but my current one, Cannabis Cocktails, is by far my favorite one because I like Cannabis! Yes, I like to smoke it and to play around with it in craft cocktails (look me up, I’ve been having fun with this for a while). I enjoy it. Perhaps more than alcohol, and alcohol is the business that I work in! So, I had to figure out what to do that could make me a living—cannabis or liquor. Why not both?
The other 510 cartridge that I tasted was True OG. A dank and richly textured draw that led to volumes of thick vapor redolent of cedar and lemon zest dripping in first press, like olive oil across the tongue. It’s an introspective high, one that comes with an understanding of the forces of nature as well as the ability to see into the future. Well, maybe not, but the True OG is quite intellectual. I wouldn’t say it made me smarter, but the vapor did coat the inside of more than one cocktail glass. You see, it’s possible to scent the inside of a cocktail glass with the exhaled vapor from your hit. Blowing the vapor inside the pre-chilled glass makes the smoke ‘stick’ to the inside. Then you can build your craft cocktail quite easily- now that the inside of the glass has been ‘washed’ with vapor. The True OG calls out for savory instead of sweet applications. I would build a Manhattan-esque cocktail with damned good Whiskey from Barrell Bourbon… something like Dolin- a drier- rather than a sweeter approach to the Vermouth and good old Angostura Bitters- make for the ideal cocktail. Of course, if you want to add a cherry—make sure you cured them yourself- with THC and good Kentucky Bourbon- lots of cane sugar if you want them candied- or raw honey. It’s all good.
Kurvana cartridges serve as more than just a mere metaphor for living–they are part of my way of being. Join me in sharing your experiences with Kurvana!
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
By Warren Bobrow 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.