Vietnamese sugar-cane juice with cannabis-infused milk is the perfect elixir for a gloomy day.
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.
To take my iced sugar-cane juice to a higher level (so to speak), I use condensed milk for the infusion. The condensed milk takes to decarbed cannabis beautifully, and you can use it in a plethora of concoctions — from the obvious caramel, by cooking it very low and slow until it caramelizes, or as the aide-de-camp to a Vietnamese iced sugar-cane juice, which is the topic of this article.
Infused with your desired amount of THC.
For an 8-ounce can of condensed milk, take 3-7g of decarbed cannabis and add it to a hemp teabag or a section of cheesecloth, tied well to prevent leakage.
Add the condensed milk to a small sauce pan or Erlenmeyer flask.
Add the hemp tea bag or cheesecloth pouch to the condensed milk.
Prepare a double boiler.
Heat the bottom filled with water to 165-degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the Erlenmeyer flask into simmering water.
Allow to infuse for at least 2 hours but do not boil — or your condensed milk will become caramel.
Let cool and add 10-15 ml of the condensed milk at a time to your iced Vietnamese sugar cane juice.
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 →
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.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Warren and learning more about creative and entrepreneurial journey:
Can you tell us about your background?
I graduated from college with a degree in film from Emerson University in Boston. The industry didn’t smile upon me, probably because I had family in the biz and there were strict nepotism rules in the 70’s and 80’s. So I had to find something to do that wasn’t television and motion pictures. Fortunately, my parents took me to Europe with them (my late father did international law) over the years and our extensive travel and love of culture rubbed off on me. We were not hotel room diners, we ate in local places, local food/drink was the basis of my upbringing. So this influence had a major hold upon my dreams and ambitions. And growing up on a farm in Morristown, NJ that was my family’s gentleman’s farm- with horses and crops sharing the fields- certainly influenced my future endeavors. I was encouraged strongly to learn about farming, especially organic and Biodynamic techniques.
I learned to cook at the knee of Estelle Ellis, who was our family cook when I was a boy. I’ve also taken ACF and Sommelier’s classes and attended Johnson/Wales when it was located in Charleston, SC. I’ve spent time in kitchens all over starting as a pot scrubber then graduating to a dishwasher. I’m trained professionally as a saucier, soups- stocks- sauces.
How did you get into mixology?
I’ve been mixing only since 2011 or so. Mixology is new to me. I started as a bar back at 50 years old! No jobs for bartenders without experience, so again I started at the bottom and worked my way upwards.
How did you transition into making cannabis infused cocktails?
I’ve always enjoyed weed, since 14 or so when I smoked it at a concert at Madison Square Garden. I’ve also cooked with it. Made brownies. Got really stoned. I transferred my interest and passion for ingredients to Cannabis and my talent in the cocktail arena. The Cocktail Whisperer is my moniker.
How have your family and friends reacted to your involvement in the cannabis field?
My father was so disturbed when he learned of my 4th book that he disowned me. I have friends who appreciate what I’ve accomplished but in the broader reach the liquor people are concerned about weed and the weed people are concerned about liquor.
What challenges have you encountered starting out? And what challenges do you still encounter now?
Being poor. Unable to make a living. Going into bankruptcy…that sort of thing. But finding my way and hopefully making myself a success on my own and with my own talent. Challenges? Drugs are BAD!
“It would be nice to see the day when I don’t have to worry about getting arrested for my craft.”
[Use] the best craft spirits money can buy… spirits not tainted by caramel coloring, added sugar, glycol, you know- garbage spirits- I don’t use them. I suggest you don’t either. It makes sense to use craft spirits, because what I do is the highest form of craft.
What is your signature drink?
They are seasonal of course, but for the winter- I love a Bourbon Milk Punch made with Barrell Bourbon that has been infused with Cherry Pie ( a strain of Cannabis) with vanilla, heavy cream, Demerara syrup and milk with ice and Angostura Bitters. I’m also thrilled by the Mezan Guyana Rum with Fruitations Tangerine Soda and Cocktail Syrup finished with bitters infused with THC.
“The weed world is an intellectual one.”
What advice can you give to chefs/mixologists who want to get into this industry?
Be prepared to be under the influence of Cannabis and have to explain things. What kind of things? Hmmmm. just let your creativity show. And don’t cut off your fingertips while talking. Knife skills are so very important.
Remember, in most places in the country, cannabis is illegal. You must NEVER bring cannabis infused liquors into establishments with liquor licenses. Why? That should be pretty clear. Follow my instructions, experiment and by all means test the results on yourself- not on your friends!
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).
Brian Quinn is an experiential event producer and cocktail writer. He is the cofounder of the Noble Rot, an underground supper club for wine, dubbed “a new form of clandestine drinking” by Tasting Table NYC. He learned the art of craft cocktails from work with the Milk & Honey family, as well as a love for hospitality from renowned Brooklyn oyster house Maison Premiere. Brian has written over 150 articles on cocktails for Food Republic and is also the director of programming for the Taste Talks and Northside festivals.
It’s an exciting time to drink well. Bartenders continually find ways to test out new ideas, techniques, flavor combinations and approaches to hospitality. The best new ideas tend to gain attention from the larger bartender community and pop up in bars around the country, and soon a trend is born. Here are 10 cocktail concepts to look out for:
1. Bars within bars Don’t call them speakeasies. The veil of secrecy separating two different bar experiences under one roof is simply a means of filtering out those who prefer the utility of a drink versus those who revel in the art. For bars like Los Angeles’s Walker Inn, bartenders are able to offer an omakase cocktail tasting for those who enter via the more accessible Normandie Club’s bar. Walking up a back flight of stairs at San Francisco’s Hawker Fare gets you into the more relaxed Holy Mountain bar setting, where the bar team is able to showcase more experimental drinks. Of course, Grant Achatz’s the Office beneath the Aviary in Chicago did this years ago. The advantage to finding these more intimate, highly curated bars is a more niche drinking experience that you likely won’t find anywhere else.
2. Camera cuisine’s impact on drinking What’s on the inside still counts, many bartenders know that these days, the most Instagram-friendly drinks on the menu will likely be the biggest sellers. A decade ago, seeing a drink like the multicolored and mint-topped Queens Park Swizzle walk across the room on a tray would incite half the bar to order that drink next. Today, with more drinking options available than ever, a well-festooned drink on Instagram might be a bar’s best asset for finding new customers.
Rich Woods of London’s Duck & Waffle uses this showmanship and his unique style to entice drinkers around the globe by, say, serving a hay old-fashioned with the glass cradled in an actual bowl of hay, or creating edible garnishes, such as a ceviche shot served on top of a cocktail. Thankfully, his drinks are as balanced and brilliant in flavor as they are in appearance. Jane Danger’s now-renowned Shark Eye cocktail at the modern tiki bar Mother of Pearl — bloodied with Peychaud’s Bitters — is another example.
3. Clarified milk punches One of the more exciting and delicious techniques that bartenders are now readily using is milk-washing, or clarifying a punch with curdled milk. The process of creating a curdled anything sounds bizarre and ill-advised, but this process dates back to the 1700s and ultimately creates a longer shelf life for the punch. Barman Gareth Howells, formerly of Forrest Point, knows this process well. He combines large batches of fruits, citrus, spices and spirits and macerates them together for several days before adding curdled milk on top. As gravity sets in, the milk proteins, which have attached to the pulpy particles in the mixture, begin to weigh down, ultimately leaving a clear liquid floating on top. Lactic in flavor, this soft and beguiling type of punch is gaining steam for good reason.
4. Dives with damn good drinks Want a killer Last Word or Paper Plane while listening to Led Zeppelin in a bar that looks like it could have been the set for Tom Cruise singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” in Top Gun? Well, you can get that now, too. In their off hours or for post-shift drinks, most bartenders find themselves in no-nonsense, unapologetic vestiges where a beer or shot of whiskey might be your best bet. For bars like Brooklyn’s the Starlight, the glow of red lighting makes you feel as though you just walked into some Midwest tavern in the 1970s, except that some of the best bartenders in the city pick up shifts here and can make you pretty much any drink you want, if they have it behind the bar. No frills necessary.
5. Pour-and-go service Time is of the essence in bars these days, and many patrons no longer care if a $15 drink was made à la minute. Eager to find solutions for those in need of a quick but excellent drink, many bars are now experimenting with having one or more drinks on tap or pre-bottled. Yours Sincerely in Bushwick — with its Transmit the Box cocktail (shown at top) — embraces this concept across its entire menu, with over 30 drinks on tap. Far from lazy, this requires an incredible amount of precision and preparation behind the scenes but allows for insanely quick pours and lower drink prices during service.
London’s White Lyan turns many heads, with bartenders pouring from a colorful array of prebatched cocktail bottles stored behind the bar, which incidentally also led the bar to have very little wasted ingredients. The drinking experience at these bars does not suffer and, in fact, the effect is often a whole new world of creative cocktails.
6. Thematic menus Bartenders are spending their time pining over more than just the drinks. Menus now seem to exist in their own theatrical context, with storytelling to support a bar’s original offerings. An incredible amount of work obviously goes into the Dead Rabbit’s menu, which seemingly takes months to research and create, with pages and pages of illustrations, history and cocktail lore. San Francisco’s Trick Dog takes a more playful approach, keeping patrons on their toes by presenting drinks on everything from dog calendars to a Chinese takeout menu to Pantone color swatches.
7. Cleansing drinks: Charcoal and kale Bartenders love yoga, too, and it seems that cocktails are finally taking a cue from the juicing movement, as more cleansing or healthful ingredients are becoming prevalent. More than just citrus and herbs, drinks with freshly juiced kale or wheatgrass come out bright green and seemingly healthier in appearance. Thankfully, many people now realize that vodka does not have fewer calories, but it does blend well in these cocktails.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, black cocktails colored with a dose of activated charcoal might look like they could filter away your hangover, but no such luck. These deep black drinks, such as Joaquin Simó’s tequila- and mezcal-driven Heart of Darkness cocktail at NYC’s Pouring Ribbons, offer a unique appearance, but the charcoal has little impact on the flavor.
8. Cannabis cocktails With the growing availability of weed tinctures and oils thanks to loosening regulations, the slow integration of THC into cocktails will likely continue to rise in 2017. The science around being drunk and high at the same time is not entirely clear, though we do know that alcohol can allow for a much quicker absorption of the psychoactive THC by the body. Clearly, it’s an area that needs further investigation, just like knowing the right and wrong way to use liquid nitrogen in a cocktail, which can also have serious effects. A sign of the times: Barman and author Warren Bobrow recently released the first book on this subject, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics.
9. Low-ABV ingenuity Necessity is the mother of invention for low-ABV cocktails. Bars without full liquor licenses have to continue to push these drinks forward, leading to a rise in everything from legit wine coolers to beer cocktails to aperitif-driven coolers. Not to be left out, bars with full licenses also love these drinks, often adding spirits such as gin or liqueurs as modifiers to a largely wine or beer base in the cocktail. Seeing a Riesling cocktail on a menu might not have made sense until now, but that’s just what Maison Premiere bartender Shae Minnillo does with his Bimini Twist, using Riesling, Linie Aquavit, Pêche de Vigne, Suze, lemon and grapefruit.
10. Cocktails around the country Serious cocktails are cropping up in virtually every city in America. Occasionally, transplant bars will migrate from a major city to other parts of the country, such as Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy’s Attaboy in NYC — ranked number five on the World’s 50 Best Bars list — opening up in Nashville. Other times, such as at the W.C. Harlan bar in Baltimore, delicious drinks seem to appear out of nowhere, driven by the owners’ unique aesthetic and approach. One thing is for sure: Deciding how to rate the “World’s 50 Best” anything when it comes to bar culture will soon be a very difficult task.