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
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.
Warren is a formidable force in the food and cocktail industry. Aside from being a master mixologist and chef, he is also an accomplished writer for various publications, as well as an author of four acclaimed books, the latest of which is Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations.
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.”
Who are your favorite chefs?
Martha Lou of Martha Lou’s Kitchen in Charleston, SC and Marco Pierre White– the youngest three Michelin star chef in the world. Such passion! Bar influencers, I’d say, Jerry Thomas, Chris James, Gaz Regan, Francis Schott, and Dale DeGroff.
How do you make a great cocktail?
[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!
And because I was able to convince my publisher that drinking Cannabis is far preferable to smoking or eating it, we went ahead and published this brand new book.
My first book, Apothecary Cocktails offered my view of the type of ‘cocktails’ that may have been enjoyed in the early apothecary.
And in full disclosure, no!!! I’m not a doctor. Nope. But what I am is a celebrated mixologist and former trained chef who is fascinated by flavor.
So indulge me for a moment while I let you know that Cannabis appeared in the early pharmacy, not as the much vilified Snake Oil- but- quite possibly the only ingredient that actually cured anything? I’m not sure- because again, I’m not a doctor- I don’t even play one on television. But I do know that Cannabis has been used in the healing arts for many thousands of years. Way before this is your brain on drugs. (I saw this commercial again the other night.. funny!)
I wrote Cannabis Cocktails to play with flavor. It gives the whole bagel recipe. You shall have the ability to decarb, to infuse and to create some pretty fun drinks. Or if you don’t want to use alcohol with your Cannabis, there are some Mock-Tails, like my Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Cannabis Infused Condensed Milk… (the perfect medium is high fat condensed milk… try it!)
There are no edibles in the book. And I will say this and say it again. Know your raw ingredients. Use tested Cannabis… Remember what you learned about eating spicy Thai food. Start slow. Don’t have more than one cocktail per hour or more!
I’ll be sharing with you some of my creations and hope you enjoy trying them. Meanwhile, this is how you can order my book(s).
I can be reached on Twitter: @warrenbobrow1
Cannabis Cocktails… Available on Amazon!
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.
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.
Behold the magic of raspberry shrub and cannabis simple syrup.
Real shrubs are for your cocktail glass. And no, they are not the kind that take up room in your front yard. Shrubs are an almost unheard-of combination of both vinegar and preserved fruit and cane sugar syrup. During the late summer months, they are especially delicious because they are cost next to nothing to make and quite thirst slaking. They also mix really nicely with Cannabis in a cocktail made with rum.
The history of shrubs dates back hundreds of years. They were most frequently used into the mid-1800s. The people who enjoyed them were amongst the working class and mostly because of the utter lack of refrigeration. No electricity, meaning no refrigeration for food preservation means all bad things to the gut.
But everything isn’t gloom and doom. Enter this home-made, vinegar based- fruit syrup. Shrubs were an inexpensive, sweet refreshment that could be added to a multitude of alcoholic liquids. People found that drinking certain kinds of acidulated liquids like these preserved fruit shrubs helped ease their aching bellies from the consumption of ‘certainly compromised foods and drink’.
Drinking these easy to make and easier to enjoy- sweet and tangy beverages were found to give the imbiber quick energy, too. Were they the first energy drinks? Possibly…
Fast forward to today, mixologists have rediscovered the magic of utilizing fresh fruit and vegetable shrubs in their craft cocktails. And now aficionados are starting to toy with them at home because of their ease in production.
Shrubs can be simply made with only three easy-to-purchase ingredients: raw sugar, some kind of vinegar and just over-ripe fruit, plus a bit of fresh water. They have a salty, sea-like undertone after they ferment for a few weeks, but are also sweet and tart. The fruit gives a deeply welcome hit of sweet perfume, the cane sugar (essential) sweetens naturally, and the unmistakable tang of your favorite vinegar makes your lips pucker, and few things are more salutary for the gut than naturally fermented beverages. Shrubs really were the original energy and health drink. And now it looks like this tangy combination of flavors have received their second wind!
Note: These shrubs will remain fresh for 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator, unless until they start to dance the jig and sing in Gaelic, then make a new batch immediately!
Summer Raspberry Shrub
(Makes about 1.5 cups)
This very basic shrub makes all kinds of refreshing combinations. Although the raspberry shrub starts out vividly red, in the end result, after a couple of weeks fermenting; the shrub will have a
pale coral hue. It’s delicious mixed with gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, Madeira, a smoky Scotch, Sherry, white wine, sparkling wine- and of course just plain water like they used to drink in the Colonial period!
- 1 cup very ripe organic raspberries (they can be bruised and soft, but please, no mold)
- 1 cup raw cane sugar (Sugar in the Raw or like product)
- 1 cup raw cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s with the Mother Yeast intact)
- In a nonreactive bowl made of either ceramic or glass (or possibly stainless), add raspberries and pour sugar over the top.
- Cover and let sit refrigerated for a few days, stirring and muddling often with a wooden spoon to combine. This mixture should expel lots of liquid, and this is good!
- After a few days of gentle fermentation, add the apple cider vinegar. Let the vinegar combine with the sugar and raspberries for another week refrigerated. (Cellar temperature if you want to be absolutely authentic)
- Arrange a fine-mesh strainer over a nonreactive bowl (one with a spout is handy). Pour the shrub mixture into the strainer and mash with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Funnel the shrub into sterilized jars, this means submerged in boiling water for at least a minute and removed with sterilized rubber tipped tongs.
- Cover and refrigerate (or cellar temp) for at least a week more, shaking well before using.
The assertive vinegar flavor will fade over time, leaving you a lightly thick- simple syrup that is tangy, sweet and very noteworthy!
Tip: A simple way to enjoy this raspberry shrub is with a glass of seltzer water and the addition of a few slivers of lemon zest. I also like to add it to gin!
Cannabis Infused Simple Syrup
(Use strain of your choice)
- 2 cups raw cane sugar – like sugar in the raw
- 3 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin (this helps supercharge the cannabis)
- 3 or more grams finely chopped, ultra-high-grade cannabis
- The first thing you have to do is measure out equal parts of sugar and water then bring the water to a boil.
- Drop the heat down, just a bit- you’ll know when you see the sugar turning to caramel that it’s too hot!
- Add in your finely chopped cannabis and stir in until the sugar has been completely dissolved.
- Cover the pot and bring it to a quick simmer (do not boil!) for about 30 minutes.
- Cool for ½ hour, bring back up to a simmer. Stir in the vegetable glycerin. Strain.
- Let cool again, and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
- Fresh Toast Fizzy
- large handmade ice cubes
- 4 ounces independent producer rum- think no chill filtering or any added caramel for color (the real thing)
- 1 ounce Raspberry Shrub
- 1 ounce cannabis tincture infused simple syrup (using the strain and amount of your choice)
- 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
- splash of fizzy water
- Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice.
- Pour in your rum, your handmade Shrub and the simple syrup (either cannabis infused or not) over the ice.
- Cover, cap and shake hard for 15 seconds or until the shaker is really frosty.
- Add a large ice cube to each of 2 coupe glasses. Strain cocktail into each of the glasses, dash the Angostura over the top of each glass (2 dashes each) and serve while icy with a splash of fizzy water of course!
- Use the Thai spice principle. You can always add more spice- but you can never take it away!
NEVER more than one per hour…
We hear a lot about cannabis edibles, but what about pot potables? Warren Bobrow’s new book, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzzworthy Libations (2016, Fairwinds) is now the definitive work on the topic. Beautifully produced and filled with lots of gorgeous full color photography, the hard cover book would make an excellent gift for all your toking and imbibing friends.
The publishers knew what they were doing when choosing Bobrow, master mixologist and creator of the popular Cocktail Whisperer blog, to tackle this topic. What follows is a collection of elegant artisanal marijuana infused drinks. Even better, Warren gives you the building blocks you will need to create your own liquid cannabis concoctions too. Not only will you learn to infuse all your favorite liquors, but also popular drink mixers like simple syrup, milk, cream, coconut cream, and maple syrup. He even teaches you how to make marijuana infused cocktail cherries!
“I tried so hard to make a difference by writing the first book on the topic,” says Bobrow. “I learned a lot while doing. I experimented on myself. It wasn’t always pretty. But I learned. I hope to change the way we do things. My drinks are delicious.”
Bobrow is a stickler for details, which in turn makes his cannabis cocktails drinkable pieces of culinary art. Quality ingredients and artisan techniques are emphasized throughout the book, right down to pairing the proper strain for each drink in order to maximize the cocktail’s full flavor potential. Bobrow is not trying to disguise the flavor of marijuana in his drinks, rather he uses it to actually enhance the flavor of his cannabis cocktails.
I recently had the chance to ask Warren Bobrow some questions about his new book and the controversial topic of Cannabis Cocktails. Here’s what he said.
Interview with Warren Bobrow, author of Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics
Cheri Sicard: What inspired you to combine cannabis and alcohol?
Warren Bobrow: I work in the liquor space, but I prefer cannabis for the feeling I get. I’m not a fan of being drunk, so I hardly drink any longer. I’ve always been fascinated by healing, in its many forms. I grew up on a biodynamic farm in NJ that belonged to my family, so folk healing was always nurtured. I always enjoyed science and found the experimentation enlightening!
Cheri Sicard:. Why does alcohol make such a good carrier for marijuana?
Warren Bobrow: Alcohol works! And it tastes good. And my cocktails absolutely rock the house!! And you do get stoned!! No bullshit cbd oil made from hemp in my drinks thank you!
Cheri Sicard: What advice do you have for people who are new to imbibing with the combination of both alcohol and cannabis?
Warren Bobrow: Don’t drive. Go slow.
Cheri Sicard: Do you have any special insider tips for those infusing alcohol for the first time?
Warren Bobrow: No open flame! Don’t be that person that blows up your home. I’m serious!!!!! Also, go low and slow. My recipes are geared for holistic healing. Not recreational. I don’t want to send the wrong message, nor make a play for the stoner set. That’s not my game. So healing should be the mantra. Take the Thai food principal. Start with a little spice and add more as you need it. Same thing with cannabis and alcohol.
Cannabis Cocktail: The Future is Uncertain and The End is Always Near
Cheri Sicard: Do you have any words for the critics who think one “intoxicant” is bad enough, now we are encouraging two”?
Warren Bobrow: Drugs are bad. Alcohol is bad. Breathing underwater is bad. Eating fast food is bad. Yelling fire in a crowded theater is bad. My late father, when he learned I wrote a book about cannabis cocktails disowned me. That’s bad too. More? I get angry about the liquor people vilifying cannabis and the cannabis people vilifying liquor. I not so secretly think that they should be together. And guess what? They are delicious together!
Cheri Sicard: What is your personal favorite marijuana cocktail and why?
Warren Bobrow: My favorite cocktail invokes New Orleans and it’s the Vieux Carre. I take absinthe from Lucid and infuse it with about 1/2 oz of Tangerine (a sativa strain) and mix it with Barrell Bourbon whiskey and finish it with some Peychaud’s Bitters for good gastric health. It’s served icy cold, always stirred, never shaken, with a nice slice of orange zest always cut with a paring knife, never a peeler.
Cheri Sicard:. Who is the target audience for you new book?
Warren Bobrow: People who are interested in craft cocktails and alternative ingredients like bitters and shrubs. Those who appreciate craft cocktail ingredients and handmade, delicious concoctions that offer a high level of flavor in each sip. Ages 21 and up, endgame.
Cannabis Cocktail: Honey Duke Relaxer
Cannabis Cocktail – Potato Head Blues
– See more at: http://drinkwire.liquor.com/post/a-conversatioSample Cannabis Cocktail Recipes from Warren Bobrow’s New Book Cannabis Cocktails
– See more at: http://drinkwire.liquor.com/post/a-conversation-with-author-warren-bobrow-plus-cannabis-cocktail-recipes#gs.eCVjtok – Read more at: http://scl.io/LOiZN6wi#gs.eCVjtok
I met Andrew Scrivani through our mutual friends Gail Schoenberg and her husband/partner Rich Eldert. Gail has a marvelous way connecting interesting people to people. Part of the art of Public Relations is that genuine talent in recognizing this art.
Also at the table was Pichet Ong who is a world- renowned pastry chef.
We dined at the restaurant named the Orange Squirrel in New Jersey.
Andrew and I hit it off immediately and we discussed photography, light and food throughout our meal. We kept in touch after our repast- something that is often difficult with highly divergent schedules and work demands. It was almost a year until I saw Andrew again after trading some emails back and forth.
Andrew is also a freelance photographer for the New York Times.
My writing has progressed through the kindness of Joy E. Stocke, my editor at Wild River Review. Then, a fortuitous meeting took place a couple weeks ago. Andrew and I bumped into each other at a retail store out here in NJ. I asked him if he would entertain a conversation about the Times, my writing and the project that will follow (just below) named the Five Questions.
Andrew is a kind and generous, gentleman. He took me out to lunch in NYC to hash out some ideas, get to know each other- and share a meal at Schiller’s on the Lower East Side.
It was here that I asked him to participate in my project for Wild River Review/Wild Table. Without further delay, may I present Andrew Scrivani!
WRR: Where are you from?
I am a life long New Yorker. I grew up on the North Shore of Staten Island and have lived most of my adult life in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Some of my family goes back 3 generations on Staten Island, proudly before the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was built and the population increased five fold. The not-so-politically- correct moniker the bridge wore as I was growing up was “The Guinea Gang Plank”. The only place where there are more people of Italian descent per capita in the world is Italy.
WRR: Who taught you to cook? Mother? Father? Grandparents?
My main influence in the kitchen was my maternal great-grandmother. She was from Cefalu, Sicily and is the person I dedicated my blog to. In smaller roles were my maternal grandmother who taught me how to bake and my mother who I learned all of the basics from. A bit later on, when I ate vegetarian, my father’s younger brother taught me a bit about eating and cooking that way.
WRR: What are your earliest memories of food?
My first kitchen memory was a traumatic one. My grandmother was baking cookies for me because I was upset that my parents had left me and went on vacation when I was about 3. I climbed up to the counter and put my entire hand on a searing hot cookie sheet. I learned a few valuable lessons there, one, that hot cookie sheets are very, very dangerous…and two, that sympathy cookies had a very powerful effect on my recovery. It was then that I started to realize how food could affect mood and memory.
WRR: What do you have in your freezer right now?
Most notably, I have a large roll of pigskin that I plan to make a bresaola with and put in a big pot of my grandmother’s Sunday Sauce. I also have 3 bottles of 8 year-old Haitian Rhum Barbancourt Reserve Speciale that my friend David brings home for me whenever he visits his in-laws there.
WRR: Any cocktail ingredients in your fridge? Do you cure your own cherries?
I have do have some simple syrup and a jar of maraschino cherries that I cured for a photo shoot a little while ago.
When I was a kid my great-grandmother would grow fresh basil on the side of my grandfather’s house. In the spring, I would play in the yard with my brother and the air was warm and filled with the vibrant scent of the basil. It reminds me of my grandfather, who I was named after and was extremely close to. He died when I was 13 and I think about him a lot. That smell brings me right back to that house every time.
WRR: If you could be anywhere in the world at this very moment, where would that be and why?
In the South of France. I go there in my mind so often. I have such beautiful memories of Nice and Aix en Provence with my family. The light, the smells and the sea all got into my soul. I’ve been to so many enchanting places but it’s there that I wish I could snap my fingers and be there anytime I wanted.
WRR: Social media brought us together… (thank you!!!!) Do you use a Smart Phone? Twitter? (will need link) Facebook? (will need link) LinkedIN? Anything you want to say about the Real Time Internet and how it’s helped your career?
I am a tech junkie. I use a smartphone, a tablet, my laptop and anything else wired or unwired to communicate with people. I blog (makingsundaysauce.com), I am on Twitter (@andrewscrivani), on Facebook (Facebook.com/andrewscrivani), Instagram and to a smaller degree Linked In. I would have to say that social media has been a definitive game changer for photographers. Gone are the days where the only way you could get an editor’s attention was to send a post card or request a meeting. Now, through all of these outlets you can not only showcase your work but also make personal connections with the people who may want to hire you. They can see more than the work, they can see a bit more of your personality. I think it has helped me greatly because I am essentially a social person and like to get to know people. Social media has provided a gateway for more actual personal interaction. It has been a great icebreaker for me.
Thank you Andrew for your enlightening comments and powerful imagery. Cheers! wb