Drinking healing cannabis concoctions dates back thousands of years.
As early as 1000 BC, a beverage called bhang was prepared in India: a combination of cannabis, ghee (clarified butter), milk and spices, used as an anesthetic and anti-phlegmatic.
Fast-forward to 1839 when W.B. O’Shaughnessy, the first Western physician to take an interest in cannabis, published a report stating that he had found a tincture of hemp (a solution of cannabis in alcohol, taken orally) to be an effective analgesic. He also touted this tincture to be “an anticonvulsant remedy of the greatest value.”
Now, Warren Bobrow, a modern mixologist and author of 4 fabulous cocktail books, has decided to “unleash the power of the early apothecary” in his latest recipe book: Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics, on sale June 1st.
Warren treated us to a sneak preview of a recipe for The Mezzrole Cocktail from his upcoming book. Here’s an excerpt from the book where Warren gives a little background on this particular cannabis concoction:
“I’m a huge fan of Manhattan-style cocktails; they make great aperitifs. This one is named after Milton “Mezz” Mezzrow, a jazz musician who lived in Harlem in the 1920s. And, as Mezz himself would have known, the term for a well-rolled cannabis cigarette was a “mezzrole”—so I just had to commemorate both man and medicine in this elegant cocktail. It combines cannabis-infused sweet vermouth, handmade cocktail cherries, and quality bourbon into a small, but well-formed, libation that’s deeply healing. When you’re infusing your vermouth, consider choosing a Sativa-Indica hybrid strain called Cherry Pie. It’s redolent of sweet and sour cherries, and it complements the toasty, oaky flavors inherent in the liquors. As for making crushed ice, it’s best to place the ice in a Lewis bag—a heavy canvas bag that’s made for the job—before whacking it with a wooden mallet or rolling pin.”
How to make The Mezzrole Cocktail:
• 4-6 Greenish Cocktail Cherries (see page 45)
• 1/2 ounce (15 ml) cannabis-infused vermouth, such as Uncouth Vermouth’s Seasonal Wildflower Blend
• Handful of crushed ice
• 1 ounce (30 ml) bourbon whiskey
• Aromatic bitters
Muddle the Greenish Cocktail Cherries with a wooden muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon, then top with the vermouth. Continue to muddle for 30 seconds to combine the flavors. Cover with the crushed ice. Top with the bourbon, then dot with aromatic bitters. Don’t have two: one should be more than enough.
The goal is to enjoy a healing, relaxing beverage, not to get wasted. As Warren puts it, “the terminology in this book is healing, not ‘obliteration’.” If you do end up overindulging in tasty cannabis tinctures, Warren swears by this one weird trick: chug a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and chew on three or four black peppercorns. “I don’t know how it works,” Warren admits, “but it works.”
If you’re excited to make The Mezzrole Cocktail at home and don’t want to wait until June 1st, Warren has generously provided two more recipes and a method for getting the most out of your cannabis (decarbing) ensuring you have everything you need to make this cannabis cocktail tonight. (Or as soon as you’ve got all the ingredients, if you don’t already.)
How to infuse your vermouth:
(excerpt from Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics)
To make a cannabis infusion, add 7 grams—or the dosage recommended by your caregiver—of ground, decarbed cannabis to 250 ml (about 1 cup) of a liquor of your choice (in this case, vermouth) in a heat-proof mason jar. Do not seal the jar, it could burst. Place the jar in the top of a double boiler on a hot plate or electric stove top.
(Never, ever use a gas stove or an open flame.) Fill the top of the double boiler with enough water to cover the mason jar halfway.
Simmer lightly at around 160ºF (71°C) for 30 to 60 minutes. Use a digital thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. Alcohol flames just over 170ºF (77°C), so pay close attention to the job at hand, and don’t go running out for a pizza. Plus, a low heat will keep evaporation to a minimum.
Let the mixture cool, strain it through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, then funnel it back into the empty liquor bottle. Top up the bottle with the remaining un-infused liquor until it’s back to a volume of 750 ml. This ensures that the THC will be dispersed throughout the infusion. Your infusion is now ready to use in your handcrafted cocktails.
How to decarb your cannabis:
“Decarbing” (short for “decarboxylating”) your cannabis is essential prior to infusing your alcohol if you want to experience the psychoactive effects of the THC and not just the flavor of the herb. If you’ve cooked with cannabis before, you may already be familiar with this technique. Warren’s go-to method involves wrapping your broken up buds 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 for decarboxylating include running it through a toaster oven at 240 degrees for about an hour.
How to make Greenish Cocktail Cherries:
(excerpt from Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics)
I’m a bit of an evangelist when it comes to homemade cocktail cherries. They’re far, far superior to those red things that come in jars.
• 1 bottle (750 ml) of bourbon whiskey
• 8 grams of decarbed cannabis
• 2 pounds (910 g) pitted fresh cherries
Infuse the whiskey with the cannabis following the instructions on page 34. Place the pitted cherries in a large mason jar, then cover with the infused whiskey. Store the jar in a cool, dark place, such as a cellar or refrigerator, for 1 month, shaking the jar daily. Don’t be afraid to store these outside the fridge at cellar temperature: nothing bad will happen if you do. Use as called for in cocktails and mocktails.