6 Things We Learned About Cannabis Cocktails from Warren Bobrow!

Warren Bobrow likens his fascination with cannabis cocktails to that of a bitters aficionado: in his eyes, adding the herb to his cocktails is just another way of experimenting with depth, balance, and flavor, not unlike the effects bitters can have on a drink. “It adds very green tasting notes and aromas, and I find that to be quite beguiling,” he says. (Of course, there’s one thing THC can do to a cocktail that even the finest bitters can’t, which is adding a certain extra psychoactive je nai sais quoi to a beverage.) Bobrow, who will release“Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics” through Quarto Publishing this summer, has spent years experimenting with various drinks, tinctures and modifiers that give a little more buzz than your average alcoholic concoction.

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In Warren’s recipes, cannabis appears everywhere from bitters to shrubs to Vietnamese iced coffee. Photo by Glenn Scott Photography, c/o Fair Winds Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing.

Whether you’re on-board with the idea of marijuana mixology, or you think the whole idea is a misguided liability straight out of the pages of a bad frat party, these methods and ideas are at least worth discussing—particularly as recreational pot legalization slowly grows throughout the U.S. So, we decided to invite Warren to do a live-streamed Shake Up to talk through his ideas and explain his approach.

First, a few obvious but necessary points we must acknowledge: if marijuana has been outlawed in your state, don’t try this at home. It’s illegal. And don’t try this at your bar, period. Warren makes it clear that his recipes are intended for non-commercial, home use only, and only in states where recreational cannabis is legal. Finally, while Warren does sing the curative praises of cannabis and its alleged healing properties, he is not a physician, so not a word of this should be construed as medical advice.

That being said, if you’re curious about the whole phenomenon, read on for the highlights and check out the full video recap below.

1. They actually do have some historical relevance

Think a pot-spiked cocktail sounds like something a bong-ripping college bro would think up? Warren begs to differ. He sites the herbs used in early apothecaries (including, yes, the herb) as a precursor to cannabis-infused elixirs, similar to the way bitters and digestifs were developed for their medicinal properties. “I wanted to unleash the power of the early apothecary,” Warren says of his book. While the exact medicinal qualities of cannabis are still up for debate, history and folk remedies do uphold cannabis’s potentially curative properties. For centuries, Warren says, it’s been used for healing purposes and relaxation purposes. “I can’t tell you that cannabis is going to cure all of your ills, but I can tell you that it certainly is going to make someone feel better.”

2. Decarbing is a crucial first step

In layman’s terms, the process of decarbing uses heat to release the specific molecules in THC that, as Warren phrases it, “give you the feeling you’re looking for.” It’s a necessary first step for any mixology-related experimentation with cannabis, assuming you’re after the psychosomatic effects and not just the flavor. Warren’s go-to method involves wrapping your product in a heat-safe turkey roasting bag (to preserve aroma and flavor), and giving it three 1.5-minute nukes in the microwave, though other methods include running it through a toaster oven at 240 degrees for about an hour. Either way, be sure to open your windows and expect your home to reek for a bit.

3. Infusion is best with whiskey, rum and mezcal, but the world is your oyster

Warren has infused cannabis into everything from mezcal to bitters to coconut water. His go-to method was inspired by the David Arnold rapid infusion technique of using a nitrous oxide-charged whipping siphon. Be forewarned, though, that the aesthetic effects of infusing cannabis into liquor can be less than ideal: clear spirits like gin or vodka will likely result in a muddy-looking, greenish-brown end product. (Warren cites a recent experiment with absinthe as deliciously vegetal in flavor, but not so easy on the eyes.) He recommends tinkering with dark spirits like whiskey and rum first, and has also found that “the mysterious nature of mezcal lends itself extremely well to the use of cannabis in cocktails.”

4. These aren’t meant for partying — so take it easy, tiger

Warren made it very clear that he strongly advises against partying too hard with these elixirs. Rather than slamming pot cocktails to kill two vices with one stone, he recommends taking it easy with no more than one drink per hour. He sees them more as a health tonic than a pre-game power hour fuel. “The terminology for the book is healing, not ‘obliteration’,” he says. Plus, he says, pounding a few of these just to send your brain to Jupiter sends the wrong message to people less familiar with cannabis culture. You wouldn’t want to send perception of potheads back to Reefer Madness times, would you?

5. But, if you do have too much, there’s an antidote

If you have a little too much fun with these tinctures, Warren swears by this one weird trick: chug a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade, and chew three or four black peppercorns. “I don’t know how it works,” Warren admits, “but I will tell you: it works.”

6. Different strains offer different, nuanced tasting notes and pairing possibilities — just like spirits

You wouldn’t treat a bottle of classic London Dry the same way you would a juniper-forward, botanical-driven craft gin, would you? The same could be said for individual strains of cannabis, according to Warren, who read from the section of tasting notes in his book. Pineapple Kush, he says, has notes of pineapple, mint, and burnt sugar, and makes a great addition to homemade orgeat in a classic Zombie, while Thin Mint Cookie’s sweet peppermint notes make a great additive to hot chocolate in the form of canna-butter. Overall, though, Warren recommends sticking to sativa strains for daytime use and indica strains for night.

https://talesofthecocktail.com/techniques/6-things-we-learned-about-cannabis-cocktails-warren-bobrow

Bitters & Shrub Syrup Cocktails Reviewed, By Warren Bobrow, The Cocktail Whisperer

Whenever Warren Bobrow says he’s publishing a new cocktail book, I get excited, very, very excited. Warren speaks my health & kitchen language- apothecary, homeopathic, restorative, small-batch… Words I live by and the ingredients I create with.

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His latest, Bitters & Shrub Syrup Cocktails was created in the spirit of medicinally-themed drinks, and to my personal delight, features mocktails throughout- I make use of mocktails both when entertaining and prescriptively in private practice with patients. The “Theodore Allen” mocktail, Bobrow’s nod to the notorious NYC saloon owner of the 1800’s {not to be mistaken with Theodore Allen, the activist} still conjures a boozy palette sensation thanks to the combination of the sweet and acrid roots fennel, parsnip and carrot, but makes for a socially acceptable, before 11 am drink because, well, it is in fact, sans alcohol!

True to his common theme of improving on the past, Warren’s new collection reaffirms that…

“the essential components in drinks haven’t changed too much over the centuries. Bitters are still made by steeping flower essences, roots, and spices in liquor. Acerbic, botanical-rich digestifs like Underberg still improve digestion after a sumptuous meal. And shrubs are still simple, flavorful combinations of fruit, sugar and vinegar- just like they were centuries ago.”

If at the bar you request spicy, herby, bitter, citrusy or even sweet, Bobrow’s newest collection is on board with your flavor faves. If you’re new to shrubs and bitters, yes, they can literally taste bitter, but really offer far greater sensory depth- think sweet, aromatic or astringent, crisp and spicy, sometimes woody, smoky and earthy- they will never bore, they are not forgettable flavors, they make you want more, many, many more drinks!

Shrubs are especially easy to get hooked on, or at least they have always been a favorite of mine considering I love anything with a hint of vinegar. As Warren expertly explains, they’re darn easy to prepare, simply requiring a hint of patience on your part at home.

Warren’s suggestion that his libations are medicinal? They are. It isn’t just that Warren mixed healthy ingredients together then touted their medicinal virtues- he has quite the solid sensibility of what ingredients accentuate one another therapeutically and how they might quell your indigestion, lighten your mood or nourish your blood. Yes, beverages containing alcohol can ameliorate your ills and assist in improving the bioavailability of nutrient-rich ingredients. Even Warren’s gastrique recipes are healthy.

Speaking of gastriques- they can invigorate the blood, completely improve the medicinal effects of cuisine and are quite divine. Completely uncomplicated, gastriques require few ingredients, are easy to master… I tried the Lapsang Souchong Gastrique with Scotch and turmeric soaked white fish and the Sazerac Gastrique to marinate Maytag blue cheese and crushed hazelnuts. The first surprised, it was a total flavor experiment combining Lapsang Souchang with turmeric and the second was satisfying in a fulfilling-a-sweet-craving sort of way!

As a concoctor-experimenter-health-driven food lover-creator, I appreciate that there really are always new recipes and adapted methods I’ve not yet tried and come to adopt. For the bar or kitchen novice, Warren’s books, especially Bitters & Shrub Syrup Cocktails are pouring with stories and anecdotes that help build cocktail-making confidence. There is not an ounce of pretentiousness throughout Warren’s pages, only recipes that give you more reason to invite friends over, throw parties or up your behind-the-bar game.

I’ve been drinking the “Celery Nectarine Fizz” and “Shall We Talk of Business, Madam?” two tangy & spicy libations that call for shrubs. My current favorite is however “Chances In The Fog”, a simple gin-based cocktail that conjures old-world taste and of course, calls for a shrub!

Chances In The Fog

What You’ll Need

  • 2 oz London dry gin
  • 1 oz Heirloom Tomato, Pear and Sage Shrub  {grab Warren’s book for the shrub recipe}
  • 1/2 oz seltzer
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters

Method

Fill a cocktail glass three-quarters full with ice. Add gin and shrub. Use a long cocktail spoon to stir for 30 strokes. Use a hawthorne strainer to strain the mixture into a coupe. Top with aromatic bitters and seltzer.

Want to score a copy of Warren’s new book? You’re in luck, we’re giving one away! Enter to win by following us and Warren on Instagram and leave a hashtag on my post #Warrenbobrow. We’ll randomly choose a winner in two weeks.

In NorCal this weekend? Go meet Warren, get a book signed and give him a hug from me. You can see him speaking at UC Berkeley on the 21st of June in the Botanical Garden and atOmnivore Books the day before.

Warren is published by the wonderful folks at Fair Winds of the Quarto Publishing Group.

Lovely piece in MountainXPress

Warren Bobrow, the Cocktail Whisperer

“I’m late to the game,” admits cocktail historian Warren Bobrow, one of the headliners for the inaugural Asheville Cocktail Week. Bobrow spent nearly 20 years in the financial world before attending the French Culinary Institute, where he studied under famed New York Times food writer Alan Richman. The author of numerous books, Bobrow will host a dinner at Cucina 24 and a seminar at the S&W. He’ll also do a book signing at Malaprop’s to promote his latest work, Cannabis Cocktails.

“We’ll be talking about bitters and the stomach and healing,” he says of his planned discussion, noting that his other book, Apothecary Cocktails, deals with ailments that, up until the 1940s, people would have gone to an apothecarian to cure. “Bitters, acidulated beverages, shrubs, anything with vinegar played a huge role in that. Gentian root, wormwood … it was all used for digestion, and they all go back to the early apothecary.”

The original apothecarians, Bobrow explains, blended ingredients that they had in their kitchens and grew in their gardens to create curative tinctures and remedies. “And some of them were really interested in healing, but in those days, the doctors were out in the field doing the curing for people who would break an arm or split their head open. So the apothecarians became the formularies,” he says.

Bobrow believes it’s imperative that knowledge of historic healing practices, tonics and remedies not be lost. “Today you see all these bartenders pounding Fernet-Branca — and for a hangover, there’s nothing better — but all of these have a medicinal history in healing. But back then, most of those products had cannabis in them, and looking back, probably the only ingredient that actually did anything was cannabis.”

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Cannabis Tinctures, the Latest Craze in Craft Cocktails!!

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https://bevvy.co/articles/cannabis-tinctures-the-latest-craze-in-craft-cocktails/2605

We’ve come a long way since the days of Reefer Madness. With the gradual easing of marijuana prohibition laws throughout the United States over the last decade or two, we’ve witnessed a steadily-increasing (albeit divisive) acceptance of the world’s second-favorite recreational drug in mainstream culture. Though we’re probably still another several years away from full legalization, that hasn’t stopped enterprising bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts from beginning to experiment with cannabis tinctures in their artisanal drinks.

Cannabis Tinctures Have a History

Strange as that may seem, it’s actually a pretty natural step in the evolution of craft booze—or, perhaps more accurately, a step back into the old days when bitters, shrubs, and aromatic spirits took up a good chunk of the local apothecary shop.

Long before the drug was first outlawed in the US, cannabis tinctures were relatively common treatments for a whole host of ailments, from nausea to muscle spasms and chronic pain. Much like aromatic bitters, which started their lives as health tonics, it was probably only a matter of time before cannabis-infused ingredients made their way into the cocktail world as well.

Of course, no conversation about cannabis cocktails can begin without a requisite nod to the elephant in the room: in most parts of the country, consuming these drinks recreationally is still illegal. Outside of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, the prospect of ordering a cocktail infused with cannabis bitters at your local bar is still a distant one (and even in states with full legalization, there are generally still laws prohibiting public consumption of the stuff).

That said, if the pendulum continues its current swing away from prohibition—all those new tax dollars do have a certain appeal—it’s likely that this conversation will only become more relevant in the coming years.

How Do Cannabis Cocktails Work?

Legal issues aside, cannabis tinctures are actually pretty interesting from a scientific perspective. While there are numerous compounds in cannabis that have therapeutic properties, the most widely-known and famously psychoactive ones are the cannabinoids, chief among them being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Most of the THC in cannabis, though, spends its time tied up as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA. When the plant is heated (commonly by smoking), THCA undergoes a reaction known as decarboxylation, in which it ditches its carboxyl group—the part of its structure that makes it an acid—in the form of carbon dioxide. After heating, you’re left with regular ol’ THC.

When making a cannabis tincture or infusion, though, there’s no innate heating process to cause that decarboxylation (or “decarbing,” as it’s known in some circles), so it needs to be introduced beforehand. Generally, this is done by baking the cannabis in a low-temperature oven. Warren “Cocktail Whisperer” Bobrow suggests giving it a few quick runs through the microwave in a turkey bag instead, as it doesn’t stink up your kitchen quite so powerfully.

After that, the cannabis is macerated in a high-proof spirit, much like the first step in making homemade bitters. From there, it can either be used as a straightforward, infused base spirit, turned into bitters, added to syrups, or used to make any number of other ingredients.

Cannabis Cocktail Recipes

If you’re looking for some recipes to try out yourself (which, once again, we can only recommend to people who are of age and live in states where it’s legal), keep an eye out for Warren Bobrow’s new book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics, which comes out on June 1st.

In general, though, aficionados tend to recommend staying away from spirit-forward drinks, like a cannabis-infused Old-Fashioned or Martini—the flavor of these infused spirits is fairly pungent, and it will easily overpower the other ingredients in your cocktail.

Highballs work well, like a Moscow Mule (Bobrow makes a Kentucky Mule with cannabis-infused bourbon), as do vegetal or citrusy recipes of any kind (the Pimm’s Cup and Ramos Gin Fizz have both received high marks). They dilute the infusion a bit and bind the flavors together better than subtler cocktails.

But what makes this such an interesting subject is the fact that there are so few documented recipes out there at the moment. It’s an entirely new area of experimentation, and there isn’t yet much of an accepted canon—mixologists have only recently started to entertain the idea of cannabis as an ingredient.

We’ll refrain from suggesting that you run out there and start experimenting yourself, as it’s a pretty limited number of our readers who can actually do that, but we definitely think you’ll want to keep an eye on this trend. Even if you don’t partake, it’s not often that we get to witness a brand-new category of craft cocktail being developed.

Forget Bitters: Marijuana Is The Cocktail Botanical Of The Future!!

The mellowing of marijuana laws in places like Colorado, Oregon and Washington State has brought new meaning to the idea of plant-based cooking in America. But the funky green stuff has other applications, too, beyond the classic pot brownies or the more contemporary “herb butter” for your steak. Like cocktails, for instance.

“It adds very green tasting notes and aromas, and I find that to be quite beguiling,” Warren Bobrow, author of the forthcoming book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics, says in a videotaped interview with organizers of the annual liquor industry bacchanal, Tales Of The Cocktail.

Bobrow discusses the ancient history of weed-infused drinks, some helpful strategies for modern-day infusions — don’t forget to decarb first! — and even offers a remedy for those who mistakenly overdo it with these powerful potions: “chug a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade, and chew three or four black peppercorns. ‘I don’t know how it works,’ Warren admits, ‘but I will tell you: it works.’”

Check out the full video below:

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Google+ Hangouts OnAir Broadcast;

Wednesday March 2, 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

 Hangouts On Air – Broadcast for free

Join us for a free live-stream with Warren Bobrow as he demonstrates a few cocktails from his new book: Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations

Click link to join live stream: http://bit.ly/1QlioAd

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Bobrow will explain how the cannabis-driven apothecary of the past has suddenly become very relevant with Cannabis legalization on the periphery.

Demonstration Includes:
• A basic decarbing using the microwave
• How to infuse decarbed Cannabis into Bourbon Whiskey using heat in a double boiler
• A Moscow Mule with Q-Ginger Beer and explain why you shouldn’t have more than one cocktail per hour and what to do if you have too much
• A Gin and Tonic with Barr Hill Gin and Tonic from Q-Drinks finished with bitters made with Cannabis Tincture for scent and color

The original apothecarians and many country medicine/folk healers used cannabis tinctures as part of their healing regiment. From the inactive forms of THCA and CBDA used for medicinal purposes to fully decarbed versions, strains in both the Indica (night time) and Sativa (day time) have become more mainstream. Individual strains of Cannabis may actually alleviate many ills that force people to their doctors in the first place. It’s “high” time for this essential healing ingredient to be embraced once again.

As we have seen the explosion of hand-crafted bitters behind the bar and the use of syrups, infusions, tinctures and tonics- along with craft sodas and even Colonial techniques like punches and cobblers, the use of Cannabis extracts in Craft Cocktails has become an important trend that is only just beginning.

Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He has written for SoFAB Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly. He has also contributed to the Sage Encyclopedia of Food Issues and the Oxford Encyclopedia edition named Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City

Previous books include:
Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today
Whiskey Cocktails: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks
Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails & Elixirs