Blue Hill/Stone Barns: Time Exists in Harmony with Nature

On Someone's Dining Room Table? Only if they are dining at Blue Hill/Stone Barns

On Someone’s Dining Room Table? Only if they are dining at Blue Hill/Stone Barns
Photo: Warren Bobrow

photo by Warren Bobrow

I might have been near Normandy in France the way the road opened in front of me with those stone barns set off the lane in the background. Several baby lambs ran beside my car and older sheep chewing calmly dotted the fields. It seemed everything on this farm worked in a specific meter. Each person I met was charged with a task of some kind, which they performed with a purpose, yet a smile at every turn was shared immediately and with meaning. It was a simple lesson in customer awareness, which enriched the scene.

Stone Barns, restored and in a sense re-created as they were 100 years prior in another time…. the drive through leafy forest north of here about an about an hour or a bit more, winding my way off the usual superhighway 287 route…the well beaten path of (old route) 9w through exclusive Alpine, NJ and across the Tappan Zee bridge from Morristown to Pocantico Hills.

The founder of Standard Oil built this living enterprise at one time with no cares as to how expensive or how to skimp on materials-this place for built to endure for centuries… now it is wistfully and lovingly recreated by Chef Dan Barber and team; who to my great delight was tromping across… (With several producers and video cameras in tow) a 50 or so acre-rolling field dotted with the mobile cages of the free ranging chickens. I happened to be walking the estate in the gathering mist and came upon a very animated but soft-spoken man, with time to spend teaching his craft to others… and being videotaped at the same time for some television event in the future. It was completely unscripted and he spoke using his hands for emphasis. He was classically dressed as a gentleman chef/farmer in crisply starched chef whites, white apron and euro-clogs.

photo by Warren Bobrow

I had transcended the decades and was standing about 50 yards away-not hearing his words-only seeing him point softly, calmly, in a gentle fashion at the food raised all around me. Cows patiently waited-sheep ate-goats burrowed and pigs slept the day away. Chickens slept.
Meanwhile, nearby…..

The on site abattoir takes care of the nasty business of slaughtering- but this place, known for the “farm to table” approach to the craft of food-is disguised by few windows and few doors. You cannot see what goes on within, but I cannot imagine a fresher approach to dining.

Surrounding the abattoir, free ranging bird pens were filled with ancient varieties of edible birds, geese, turkey, chickens and ducks- which existed on grasses, and vegetarian grains almost hand fed by a swarm of young, eager farm workers… surrounded by pure soil and a constant variety of free-ranging insects who wander into the cages-then are hungrily devoured by the hungry, waiting birds. This variety shown above seems to have few feathers.. I imagined an “innner zip tab” engineered by ancestors long departed into the breasts for easy removal of all feathers. Chef Barber was pointing out to some young Berkshire Pigs who were napping-blissfully unaware of the restaurant “Blue Hill Stone Barns” just beyond a quiet knoll surrounded by a small pond.

They seemed to be smiling-perhaps they dreamt of warm days in the future there on this sustainable farm, their home and not of the sum of their parts which will grace someone’s farmers feast dinner later in the season?

I continued down the road and came upon the greenhouses. Over 1/2 acre under cover with roof panels which open with the time of day.

Tonight’s salad at Blue Hill was still in the ground.

Several female college students were snacking on a salad of Mache, chervil and faro grains with goat cheese made fresh daily from the farm. A young commis cook from the restaurant was charming them with some freshly picked greens, quickly prepared and served. I wanted to photograph them, but didn’t want to disturb their sense of discovery… The fog took over and I continued back to the front door of Blue Hill. But it was locked!

To my chagrin- Blue Hill/Stone Barns are closed at Lunch, unless it is a Sunday, but this was during the week… So-I enjoyed a visit to their well-appointed cafe. It reminded me a rurally set Chez Panisse. Friendly, smiling college aged girls and guys worked the steaming, spotless espresso machine. The foods were all self-serve, Tuna in water from Italy with chervil served on whole grains with a sprinkling of garden greens, a Frittata of local ramps and farm-made goat cheese-Sweets from classic breakfast treats to more succinct, yet humorous granola made on the farm with local dried berries and nuts, fresh yoghurt, milk from local farms and farm-made goat cheese filled the refrigerator cases-carefully chosen juices and seltzers-strawberry milk, chocolate milk and grand cups of steaming lattes…
… I helped myself to a lovely egg salad sandwich-composed of the day’s fresh eggs from the farm, capers, a simple garlic mayonnaise and then gently spooned over a warm slice of open faced chibatta bread from the estate’s bakery. Although a fine mist flew in my eyes-the energy of the place warmed me deeply. I enjoyed a tall glass of Ronnybrook Farms Chocolate Milk and photographed my lunch as it sat on the long wooden tables in my mind’s eye.

There were preserves to be sampled, made freshly on the farm. I chose an Apricot Jam and a Quince Preserve. Quince is meant to be cooked with, baked into a cheesecake of goat cheese and flaky crust. Not a sweet, but a savory.

The apricot jam made me think of iced summer wines from the Basque region of Spain, the softest bubbly nose…the flavors of stone fruits, some of those roasted apricots; marcona almonds coated in sea salt and drenched in fine olive oil…. the terroir from the soil. Deep in the earth-powerful salty flavors from the fogs, which hang over the ancient vineyards, fresh anchovies caught minutes before and then grilled over hardwood and sherry wine vinegar. Olives freshly crushed until they are a soft paste with garlic and anchovy more olive oil, grey salt and rosemary from the tree over there…. served with good charred country bread.

Creativity is easy to find when surrounded by deliberate provisions.

Lunch was a feeling of contentment. All that was missing was that plate of freshly grilled Anchovies right out of the sea and a glass of Spanish Txomin from the Basque Country to wash it all down.

Paul Bocuse once said-serve great bread and everything is possible.

photo by Warren Bobrow

photo by Warren Bobrow

Greenhouses at Stone Barns

Photo: Warren Bobrow

Photo: Warren Bobrow

Marijuana Cocktails? South Florida Distillers wants to make Florida’s FIRST Cannabis-Infused Rum!


South Florida Distillers co-founder Joe Durkin (right) with Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics author Warren Bobrow during the 2016 Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami.

According to New Jersey-based mixologist, author, and “cocktail whisperer” spirit expert Warren Bobrow, cannabis-infused cocktails like Durkin’s Dank & Stormy are the future of mixology, what he expects to become a growing trend as the decriminalization, legalization, and normalization of marijuana occurs nationwide. Bobrow recently met Durkin during the 2016 Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami that took place April 15 through 17, where the two discussed the potential for professional collaboration. “We were talking about cocktails with cannabis infusions and how recipes like mine — mixed with premium liquors — can be a match made in heaven,” says Bobrow. “When you mix marijuana and alcohol together, they play beautifully together.” –

He should know; Bobrow’s most recent work is called Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics, a 160-page book featuring 75 cocktail recipes that use cannabis. When it hits store shelves June 1, it will be the first of its kind, according to Library of Congress records. “To be clear, I’m not promoting this from the distillers’ level but rather on the bar-tending level — creative bartenders interested in the homeopathic history of cannabis as a medicinal tonic, the same recipes that were being used right up until the 1940’s,” says Bobrow. “I believe, with this book, I’m in the right place to help make history.” Durkin hopes to make history too — as the first Florida distiller to legally brand and sell a cannabis-infused rum. Despite the fact that he can’t promote, bottle, serve, or even make Sour Diesel Fwaygo as such, more than anything else, Durkin says his goal is to open people’s minds to a different — and equally pleasurable — cannabis experience. “From a bottle instead of a bong,” says Durkin. “It’s a great way for people who have never smoked — or don’t want to smoke — to experience all the benefits of marijuana.” While it may seem ludicrous to think the federal regulators will ever allow the two substances to be combined and sold in the same product, the idea actually isn’t that far out there. Right now you can find a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing it to be regulated and taxed like alcohol, meaning The Food and Drug Administration would have the same authority over marijuana as it does for alcohol. As the regulatory landscape surrounding cannabis changes, distilleries already skilled at making a quality, cannabis-infused product will have the upper hand, adds Durkin. “First and foremost, I’m an advocate for legalizing marijuana,” says Durkin. “I believe that — in the next 5 to 10 years — cannabis will be a federally regulated substance and — like Warren — I see an opportunity to make an innovative and delicious product, while also making history.”

 Published Author of four books on mixology. Bar-man. mixologist. world traveler, Niche Imports Brand Ambassador for Mezan Rum.

Tips for Substituting Ingredients Behind the Bar

Bottles on a shelf.
Photo via iStock/Lisa-Blue.
When you reach for a bottle to find that it’s empty, it’s important to be ready to improvise.

Whether it’s fruit that’s out of season, that bottle of super rare aperitif that you’re dying to mix up, or you’ve simply run out of one of your bar staples in the middle of a rush, it’s important to have effective substitutions ready to take center stage.

Below you’ll find some handy suggestions on substitutions that could easily bail you out the next time you’re in a pinch.

1. Substitute fresh juices

Warren Bobrow, author of “Apothecary Cocktails, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails,” and “Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics” relies on Fruitations Craft Soda and Cocktail Mixers when you need a quick — but still flavorful — stand in for fresh fruit juices.

Fruitations is currently available in three varieties — cranberry, grapefruit, and tangerine.

“It’s brilliant stuff,” Bobrow said.

2. Make your own liqueurs

Sometimes it’s harder than it should be to get your hands on a specific liqueur. Sometimes, it’s just cheaper to make them yourself.

Mike McSorley, Head Distiller and Brand Ambassador at Island Distillers, has a handful of quick fixes when behind the bar.

Cointreau substitute

  • 750 ml 100 proof vodka
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Steep for 24 hours
  • 187 ml rich simple syrup

St. Germain substitute

  • D’arbo elderflower syrup
  • 100 proof vodka
  • Small pinch citric acid

3. When you need to MacGyver it

Sometimes it’s simply a matter of being put in a tough spot in the middle of a rushed service.

Izzy Ramos Foster, owner of Mixotica Cocktail Design, has had to make a handful of fast decisions in her time.

“For a Sidecar, using Tuaca and/or Licor 43 as a substitute when your orange liqueur unexpectedly runs out has worked every time,” Foster said. “Sometimes it works in a Margarita, depending the tequila. I’ve never had a complaint!”

Other off-the-cuff substitutions have been a bit more unique.

“I’ve also had to resort to using crushed Altoid breath mint powder (diluted in a bit water and strained) a couple of times when a sudden Mojito craze hit, fresh mint ran very low, but the cocktails needed to go out stat,” she said. “It’s not my proudest ‘professional bartending’ moments but it worked and the party went on!

4. All in the family

When it comes to replacing ingredients, remember that like replaces like.

For example, if you’re short on Cynar, you could easily swap out with a similar potable bitters like Campari (although it’s much fruitier than Cynar), Fernet Branca or Punt è Mes — a dark, bitter Italian vermouth produced by Carpano.

Consider the balance of your drink and its key features, and you can even create some unique cocktails by switching out key ingredients. For example, if you’re short on vodka when dying for a Moscow Mule but happen to have a silver rum in the house, replacing the vodka with rum leads to the heavier, richer Jamaican Mule.

5. Knowledge is your best substitute

Finally, have a working knowledge of how flavors relate to each other — and an even better understanding of what you actually have access to behind your own individual bar.

“Knowledge is key here,” said Matthew Biancaniello, owner of Eat Your Drink, LLC.

Specifically, while behind the bar one night Biancaniello noticed he had suddenly run out of fresh lime juice. What he did have, however, was fresh passion fruit juice.

“Instead of 2 ounces of lime juice, I did 3/4 ounce of passion fruit juice,” he said. “The passion fruit became the citrus in place of the lime juice. By reducing the amount I was able to keep the citrus there without making it painfully obvious that I wasn’t using the usual ingredient.”

The key to quick substitutions behind the bar is a deep knowledge and appreciation of similar flavors, a willingness to play around with different ingredients, and the ability to think on your feet.

Substitution quick tips:

Substitute liquors and liqueurs from the same family. In a pinch, rye can stand in for bourbon.

Take the time to play around with different flavors before you really need to punt. Having a knowledge of parallel flavors will keep your flavors relatively consistent.

Don’t be afraid to play around with different flavor combinations to create something new (so long as your patron knows that you’re being creative).

Musing on Mamont

I never fully got it about Mamont until I drank it in Moscow. It was there, in the Ministry of Science that I felt the deep inner meaning of Vodka. And I knew at that moment this was one of the worlds best. And I had to share it. 1/2 oz at a time.

Mamont Vodka
Mamont Vodka; Photo by Warren Bobrow.

Product Review: Source Vapes

Product Review:  Source Vapes…


As Twitter is the arbiter of “leveling the playing field” I bring attention to the plethora of smoking mechanicals that litter the marketplace.  With all due reverence to the companies that make high end products, there are many others that are not up to snuff.  I will not be reviewing those.  Just like when I offer liquor reviews, if your product sucks, I’m not going to write about it. Benign Neglect is what this is called.

So you make what I consider the top in your class?  Well then- not to worry.  I want to say nice things about your craft.  If your product is easy to use- all the better- and if it makes my life easier- well, this is a small victory in life.  Because not everything is easy.  Far from!

I received a lovely little metal box in the mail from Source Vapes.  Not knowing what to expect, and with full disclosure- I use cannabis daily by smoking it (the old fashioned way…) – so my experience level is quite advanced from nearly 40 years of smoking pleasure… Yet I had never used a Source Vape product before.  I had no idea what all the parts did, and with that said, I headed over to their website and I was still quite confused.  What goes into the Source Vape?  Dry herbs?  (NO!!!) Something else? (YES!!!!!!)  but what is that something else.  Evidently you cannot say what goes into it.  Is there a law prohibiting this disclosure?  I doubt it.  But here in my state where I know no one who uses such a contraption, well I had no clue what to do, nor how to do it!

Not that this is bad.  I just didn’t have a good teacher to walk me through the process.

Suggestion to Source Vapes- I’m visually oriented and a good YouTube instructional goes a long way for me.  Show me what goes in it.  How much to use.  What those temperatures mean for each product.  What goes in it?  How do you get that icky water out of that bong looking thing?  And what is that glass globe?  What does that do?

Argh… I guess at 55 I’m just old-school and I have no use for electronics or dare I say, concentrates.  My skill is rolling a joint with one hand like my stepbrother Drew taught me about forty years plus ago.  Electronics?  Nice for the millennials who have no patience.

Ok… With that said, the Source Vape, when I finally figured out myself, what went where and when is a well-built contraption.  I imagine that those in the healing cannabis world will find it very ingenious… no burning flame is even necessary! But I am a bit concerned about the high heat settings.  There really is no explanation for this.  Practice is not good enough when you have limited supplies and less patience.

The globe?  Fragile.  Strange design (for me) I’m not comfortable with it- the globe gives an amazing hit- but it may be too strong for me.  Maybe the temp is too high?  No idea and no one to ask.  Sure they have customer service, but I could not determine anything from the conversation and I got frustrated immediately.

The bubbler?  Very fragile.  Glass is not metal, it’s pretty enough, but without good instructions- well- you know that story already.  Fill the tube with some water.  Add your concentrate (which one? I have no clue…) and hit the button five times… (why five times?  Never explained fully…. Why not just once or twice?  But FIVE TIMES?)

Ok.. so I did that.  The hit was pretty flavorless.  Lots of vapor, but no real taste.

Am I doing something wrong?

Am I using the wrong type of concentrate?

Why can’t I figure this out?

(no one to ask is a good start)

Not a bad product.  Seems to be in the mid-range on price (about $150)

Would I recommend it?  Probably yes- I’d say the operation is quite advanced.

For me, it’s way beyond my comprehension…

I’ll pass until I figure out how to use it better.

Because I cannot easily find what goes in it… What goes in it?   (again. no idea because this is not explained at all and I know there are so many different types of concentrates on the market)

From a visual standpoint, the machine is lovely.  Looks like the key to a very expensive automobile.  But I’d never leave the house with it.  Way too difficult to fill in any wind.

The Source Vape is not easy to clean.  Bits of my (limited supplies) …of…concentrate fell out of the ‘bowl’ and were impossible to get out because the space between the ‘bowl’ and the glass is very tight- and that ‘bowl’ gets extremely hot… (read: burnt fingers)

Better instructions for those of us who are old and infirmed. (far from, but you get the gist)

My advice?

Buy one.  You already know what to do with it.  Carry on.  It’s probably the best one of its type on the market, I couldn’t figure it out easily- but that’s just me.

10 Bar Cart Essentials By Tyler Wisler

The hottest home accessory I can think of right now is a bar cart! It’s all the rage! Why? Because everyone loves a cocktail, and everyone loves an easily accessible cocktail. This functional piece of furniture allows you to proudly display your collection of liquor and glasses, and everything is presented in a way that makes you feel like you’re living in a suite at The Plaza.

The Rosalind Tea Cart is one of my favorite options right now…the perfect marriage of form, finish and function.


So once you have that perfect bar cart for your space, what exactly should you have on it? What are the essentials? Well, I asked my good friend, Warren Bobrow – a critically acclaimed mixologist and author of several amazing cocktail books – to chime in on the subject.

For a well-rounded bar, he suggests having the following supplies on hand :

  1. A London dry gin, like Boodles.
  2. A botanical gin, like Hendrick’s.
  3. A rye whiskey.
  4. A bourbon for mixing, like Four Roses.
  5. A vodka, like the new Mamont from Siberia.
  6. A bottle of dry vermouth, like Dolin, and sweet vermouth, like Carpano – be sure to refrigerate.
  7. For rum, get a blend, like Mezan XO, and a single batch, like the Mezan Panama 2006.
  8. An orange-flavored cordial, so you can use it in margaritas or gin, vodka and even bourbon-based cocktails.
  9. A fine tequila (and if you’re super esoteric, a bottle of Mescal. No worms though! That just isn’t done.)
  10. A bottle of single malt scotch from India or Japan as a refreshing counterpart to your basic scotch whiskey.

Blog_Apr 2 Whiskey

A selection of cane sugar sodas, tonic – sweet and dry – and some shrub syrups are fun, too. There are also plenty of funky bitters that come in all sizes and shapes and have droppers.

One wild card ingredient is balsamic vinegar! Bobrow confesses that he loves making cocktails with it. He says it adds a certain twang to the drink. A white balsamic can also sit on the bar, as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

So now that your bar cart is stocked, what to make? Well, let’s impress your guests with a yummy Manhattan recipe!

  • Fill three quarters of a cocktail glass with ice
  • Add 3-5 oz of bourbon whiskey
  • Add 1 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar
  • Add 1/2 oz of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
  • Stir 40 times…
  • Strain into a pre-chilled martini glass that has a couple drops of orange bitters, and garnish your drink with a cherry

Now that you have the best cocktails and decor, your home will be the new hot spot in no time. Cheers!