New–Jersey-based Warren Bobrow, known as the Cocktail Whisperer in the hospitality industry, is a mixologist, bartender, contributing writer for Forbes and author of, among other books, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations. On Dec. 19, Bobrow was on his first visit to Toronto to talk about what he’s most passionate about: infused cocktails and mocktails.
“Drinking is part of our culture. What I have chosen to do with my book, Cannabis Cocktails… is make infused drinks approachable—by mixing together ingredients in a way that’s cohesive and not overwhelming,” says the 57-year-old author of six books.
The book, launched in 2015, drew scathing criticism. “It was termed bad and dangerous, but things have changed now. As per my knowledge, this is the first book and the only book on the topic—on THC-infused cocktails,” Bobrow says. “I wrote this book so that people could enjoy infused cocktails without stigma. When you smoke a joint on the streets, everybody knows your business and has a preconceived notion, right or wrong, on what it is that you are doing.”
The hospitality session, organized by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) Ontario and Lifford Cannabis Solutions, tastefully coincided with the holiday season and the regulations on cannabis edibles and concentrates to be announced by Health Canada.
To help highlight cannabis’ place in the hospitality industry, Lifford in partnership with CAPS Ontario, has been hosting one such session monthly since legalization. “Whether it’s restaurants or infused beverages, we are interested to see how the edibles regulations will change with the regulations set to be announced. At Lifford, we are a wine and spirits company, we are interested in the potential of creating infused beverages,” says Lisa Campbell, CEO of Lifford Cannabis Solutions.
Apart from a talk by Bobrow, the session also had a cocktail and mocktail station. “Mocktails are the biggest trend of 2018. A lot of consumers are moving away from alcohol, and this session fits right into that dialogue,” says Campbell, explaining the demand for such a session.
Guests, on the other hand, ranged from people who had never tried infused cocktails to others who couldn’t wait to give them a shot. “In the past, I haven’t been interested in infused anything, but listening to him and how he’s been retaining terpene interaction… because in infusion, you often lose the aroma, with the decarb product, I surely want to try it, now,” says Chris Klugman, CEO and president of Paint Box Catering. “There’s has been a huge interest in the overall wine and cannabis combination,” Klugman reports.
Apart from reading some of the recipes from the book, his professional history and his family story, Bobrow also shared some tips to making good cocktails. “There are a ton of things people don’t know about cannabis and cocktails, but predominantly, that they should be decarbing their cannabis—they need to activate the THC. If you take raw cannabis and stick it inside a bottle of liquor… all you will get is a mouldy mass of gunk.”
More than fanning the interest and sharing trade secrets, the session also focused on education. “Love it or hate it, cannabis is part of our reality now,” says Kim Gertler, media and communications representative for CAPS Ontario. “That means, it’s part of the duty of care of every sommelier to look after their customer, and monitor their levels of intoxication and inebriation—whether it’s through alcohol or cannabis. It’s important for people to inform themselves. Education, knowing what works and not, is key,” Gertler adds.
As we celebrate the coming of cannabis edible regulations, it isn’t difficult to get into the holiday spirit. The cannabis industry has entered the post-prohibition era where anything is possible, and we are ready to ring in a new year of endless possibilities (HIGHly optimistic, right?).
That’s why we are rounding off a killer 2018 with our friends at Lifford Cannabis Solutions — and you should definitely join us. Tomorrow, Wednesday December 19th, we’ll be learning how to craft the perfectly infused cocktail and mocktail with The Cocktail Whisperer.
Organized by The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) Ontario in partnership with Lifford Cannabis Solutions, the hospitality community is in for a special treat, with learnings that they can bring to their home and holiday events to kick things up a notch. You’ll learn how to wow guests at ALL the holiday parties with some tasty takeaways that will dazzle taste buds and elevate spirits (literally).
Yes, even that hard-to-impress grinch in your crew who could use a little holiday cheer.
This month’s event will feature 6-time author Warren Bobrow The Cocktail Whisperer, as he educates guests on the fine art of cannabis beverages. Warren is a cannabis writer for Forbes, and authored the very first book on cannabis cocktails. Guests will look forward to DIY cannabis cocktail demonstrations and learn about different types of infusions, dosing and flavour profiles.
If you’re in Toronto, we invite you to join us for the final Hospitality Sessions of 2018 at Lifford Wine & Spirits, and you can use HERBLIFE for 15% off at checkout.
In this brand new interview series, I’ll be interviewing the most influential journalists covering the cannabis industry. The intent is for these interviews is to be fun, enlightening, entertaining and of course informative.
We’re kicking off this new series of interviews with Warren Bobrow Author/Chef/Barman/Cannabis Alchemist. Bobrow has published five books on mixology and written articles for Forbes, Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and many other periodicals. Warran has also contributed to SoFAB Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly. It’s safe to say that Warren has a natural talent for words that simply flows through, as you will find out from his answers below.
Warren, take it away.
Please share your professional and personal background with our readers.
My degree is in film, from Emerson in Boston, and I had aspirations of working in the film industry- and did for a short time- but nepotism rules of the 1970’s permitted me to intern, but unfortunately, I could never get a full-time job in motion pictures. I worked in television for a time in NYC as an editor doing ‘hard news’ but mostly I spent my free time working with video artists and working in the video lounge at the world famous nightclub named Danceteria. I had moved to Maine to work in the TV industry back in the mid-1980’s- it didn’t last long and I found myself unemployed and hungry for meaningful work. I found it by washing pots and pans – then graduating to a dishwasher. It was rewarding and it framed the next ten or so years of my life. I lived and worked as a cook in Portland, Maine- before it was trendy to live in Maine, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Which led me to Johnson/Wales in Charleston, South Carolina, where I attended culinary school and did work towards my ACF apprenticeship in culinary arts. My professional culinary background frames my passion for flavor as a saucier. I worked in restaurants from Maine to Arizona and was the owner/founder of Olde Charleston Pasta, the first manufacturer of fresh pasta in South Carolina. September of 1989 I lost everything in Hurricane Hugo. It would push me forward.
I was also fortunate to have been raised as a global traveler and eater. My parents were determined to show my sister and I the world, like millionaires would see it- because they were- and they instilled fabulous, old money tastes into me. Problematic, because you need to make a bundle of money to have this kind of old money taste- something that has, to date, evaded me. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly self-made, but not on their level. My luck! So, my parents made sure I knew about fine wine from age 5 or so on. Cannabis was my own discovery at around 12. More on that later. My grandfather was in the patent pharmaceutical business. It afforded me an upbringing few can understand. I’ll just say, it was unique and it made me the man I am today…
You’ve written for Forbes, Saveur magazine, Voda magazine and authored several books. Tell us about your writing process.
Writing is easy for me. The words just flow- it’s conversational and emotional. I love to bring my readers into my life- not to show off, far from! But to share and hopefully add value. To experience the best, without being a snob. I hate those people. They suck! I was massively bullied growing up and it made me the man I am today. Forbes is a great honor.
I write for their Vices section. It’s pretty laid back there. Saveur is a thrill for me because most people don’t know I literally was starving before I found that I had a passion for cooking. NO one ever went hungry working in a professional kitchen. This insight allowed me to speak the language of a cook because I started cleaning bathrooms and greasy, burnt pots and pans. NO ONE who I know who is a writer or even a blogger can say that- given my timeline. Not that I should ever compare myself to anyone else, just the timeline is long, from the mid-1980s to today!
What’s your favorite cannabis cocktail and how do you make it?
My favorite is the viet iced coffee with THC infused condensed milk, you decarb the cannabis in the Ardent Lift to 100% bioavailability. I spoke on this topic at SXSW this past March. Disrupting the cannabis kitchen.
I talked about how I infused cannabis into craft spirits. It’s so easy to gently heat the cannabis and condensed milk together, using my favorite machine, the Magical Butter Machine. It makes me look like a pro! You mix the cannabis-infused condensed milk into Vietnamese Iced Coffee and lazy away the afternoon!
Your writing sits at the intersection of cannabis and cocktails which is a very interesting mix. How did that come about?
I had a dream. Really. It’s that simple. I’m a classically trained mixologist from bar-back on up. My mentor, Chris James was not easy on me. I came to him at fifty years old- no youngster at the Ryland Inn located in the bucolic hunt country in NJ. People are extremely demanding there. It’s ultra-affluent and they want the very best without apologies. I learned from the best, Chef Anthony Bucco gave me a chance to become the Warren I am today. Not too many people start new careers at fifty.
Personally, I’ve never had a cannabis cocktail. What effect should I expect and what would you recommend I try?
It’s a lovely stone. I’d love to make a mint julep for you with THC infused Rye whiskey from Barrell. It’s barrel strength and quite luxurious!
What are some of the biggest opportunities and challenges you see in the cannabis industry?
I only see opportunity. I hate lipstick-stoners. I have to use cannabis as part of my medicinal regiment. If you can’t hold your cannabis, get out now. It’s different for everyone. Watch out for edibles, they can hurt you if you’re not careful. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! I see a massive opportunity for kind people to spread warmth and well- being to the world.
What stories are you most interested in right now? What topics do you enjoy writing about?
I love writing about Cannagars ( Handcrafted cannabis cigars made from organic flowers). I am enjoying one from Luxe at the moment, pure bliss. I’m also enjoying one from the Las Vegas Cannagar Company. I have no idea how I got any of them.
As I’m sure you know, reaching relevant media and journalists is a major challenge for entrepreneurs, especially in the cannabis industry. What’s the best way to reach you, in a way that captures your attention?
Twitter is the best way to reach me. I love LinkedIn, but to be quite honest, I don’t always check my LinkedIn emails. Twitter is always there for me. I have a massive footprint and it opens many doors that are usually closed. @warrenbobrow1
Going back to the cannabis industry, how do you see the state of the industry right now, and where do you think we will be 5 years from now?
It’s the wild west with the liquor- three-tier system running the integration of logistics. I’m pretty unhappy about this. We need more cannabis people in charge of things, not liquor people.
What do you think most entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry get wrong about their marketing strategies?
Lack of humility and certainly the lack of me time. You must be good to yourself and stop working so hard! What will be will be and the growth should be organic. Don’t try to force anything and by all means, do what you love. It will show!
Who would you recommend we interview next, and why?
I should suggest that you interview Zoe Wilder, also I suggest interviewing Rosie Mattio.
Thanks for sharing your insights with us Warren, it was a true pleasure interviewing you! Looking forward to raising a glass with you in the near future. Cheers!
Author’s Note: I love working with talented intellects who enjoy the cannabis space for more than just a job, these “think on their feet” entrepreneurs genuinely want to make a difference and are leading the thrust towards doing better by others, one step at a time. I am fortunate to work with several industry leaders in the Public Relations world of cannabis and all are supportive of my desire to document the talented and the entrepreneurial. One such talented person is Rosie Mattio. Rosie has her own cannabis-centric agency that specializes in luxury cannabis products. Her list of clients reads like a “Who’s Who” of the New Cannabis Age, but Rosie is not about shouting their accolades to the world. Quite to the contrary, her strength is organic. She brings people together through synergy and her ease of communication. She makes you feel comfortable in your path, because in the case of this company, brains push forwards- rather than sheer brawn. It takes more than one key player, however to make a team work in the cannabis space. As cannabis is organic, the methods of promotion are also organic. Not forcing, but guiding the guest, through the life of a product or service. Helping, guiding, but not doing is another method of great cannabis PR. Part of the passion of cannabis is the methodology of our tribe. Cannabis is not for everyone, but with the non-conformist views of this talented firm, what Rosie does is allow the consumer to learn along with the teacher, instead of the teacher knowing everything. Knowing everything is impossible in life, and it takes humility to discover the secrets of great Cannabis-Centric PR. I’m honored to share with you, Rosie Mattio, PR., and her five (or so) questions.
Oregrown’s Flagship store in Bend, Oregon, carries a range of apparel from hats to tees, in addition to cannabis products PHOTO COURTESY OF OREGROWN.
Oregrown’s Terroir Tastes Like the Forest
I love Oregon’s weather. The climate reminds me of what New Jersey’s weather is like. Weeks of hot and dry, followed by weeks of damp, dark and raw. It’s familiar to me because I appreciate this “chill me to the bone” weather. It goes along with the cocktails that I enjoy this time of the year. This type of weather brings brilliance to my Oregon visit months ago, when I stayed at Portland’s best Bud n’ Breakfast, the Doctor’s House.
The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) – Ontario in partnership with Lifford Cannabis Solutions invites the hospitality community to join us for this monthly event series. Please join us at Lifford Wine & Spirits (471 Jarvis Street) on the third Wednesday of the month to learn more about how cannabis will impact the hospitality industry.
Warren Bobrow, the Cocktail Whisperer, is the 6x Author of 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, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations and his celebrated, 2017 release, The Craft Cocktail Compendium. Bobrow presented at the 2018 SXSW on Disrupting the Cannabis Kitchen and Cannabis Cocktails. He was the Mercedes-Benz Me Conference Mystery Speaker on Wellness, also at SXSW 2018.
Just the very mention of the word “repeal” suggests setting something behind, to leave it in the past, and what better day to leave something in the past than December 5, or Repeal Day, which celebrates the day Prohibition ended and the modern age of drinking really began.
DaVinci, designers and manufacturers of ‘white table cloth’ (ultra high end) cannabis vaporizers would like you to try all other vaporizers first. Why would this even be suggested in a marketplace chock-full of worthy inventions? The long and the short of this axiom is pretty simple. There are dozens and dozens of high and less than high quality products on the market. Many are good, some less so. To get a really good read on what is the very best, experience is absolutely essential. To gain this experience, one must test all the players out. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly? Perhaps it’s something deeper than just getting a high. There are methods and mentions that need to be explained first to understand what a vaporizer does, and why you should buy a DaVinci Miqro, right now!
Cannabis Cocktails and the Da Vinci MIQROWARREN BOBROW: IPHONE X
Technology certainly has taken the lead in the cannabis world with faster, stronger and better moving forward and the ‘old fashioned’ methods (the ones that I’m more familiar with), of enjoying cannabis being left in the dustbin of history. The old days of struggling to roll a joint to take your expensive medicine are the vestiges of time gone past. The very thought of emitting a deep cough from the sometimes-harsh cannabis smoke is uncomfortable on your throat. “High” Technology in cannabis makes taking a hit less onerous and stressful on the lungs, all the while enjoying the flavors and the textures of the concentrated cannabis vapors. I’ve been playing around with expensive technology and these are some standouts in the world of wonderful, cannabis gifts for the person who, has it all, or just wants the very best. Money is no object in most cases! I have included in my list a couple of non-technology items, just because I thought they are worthwhile and well thought out.
Confident Cannabis CEO & Co-Founder Steve Albarran speaking at craft cannabis competition Cultivation Classic in Portland, Oregon.PHOTO CREDIT: CONFIDENT CANNABIS
What attracted me to cannabis, initially, wasn’t the feeling of being stoned— far from. It was a curiosity about the plant because I’m attracted to cannabis for the effect it has on my brain. You see, it makes me smarter. After all, no dummy writes and publishes books or makes a living being a writer. It’s challenging enough to put pen to paper, and actually say something that resonates with the reader. Cannabis and the intellects that use this much maligned plant, sit in the catbird-seat of entrepreneurship. None are more intriguing than the individuals that can actually change the highly stigmatized world of canna-intellectualism. I find this part of life fascinating, and I want to share this very personal energy with my readers.