St. Patrick’s Day has the unfortunate reputation for being a day that celebrates drinking and getting drunk, and that is too bad, but we can add a little weed to balance out that booze and get us to a nice high place.Enjoying alcohol in moderation along with cannabis allows us to feel high without the terrible consequences of a hangover the next day. Stick mostly to bud, not booze, on St. Patrick’s Day, save for just one or two of these amazing cocktails!
Since our national celebration of Guinness and stereotypical Irish culture falls in the early Spring, I’m forced by necessity to pay homage to the seasonal changes in my drinking and the ingredients therein. As a seasonal ingredient, maple syrup comes to mind, and the way to infuse it with THC is quite simple!
I love to infuse cannabis into ingredients that I’m going to use later in my mixed drinks, and maple syrup is one of those ingredients that takes to a long, slow infusion with alacrity. Perhaps the natural sugar is what brings maple syrup into a marriage of sorts with with decarbed cannabis? I’m pretty sure the unhurried infusion has a great deal to do with the cheer this syrup creates!
This drink blends infused maple syrup with absinthe, apple brandy, whisky and more to create a sophisticated taste sensation. Inspired by a Sazerac, this little mind eraser is perfect when the temperature starts to rise and you need a bit of cooling to go along with all that Guinness you’ll be sipping on St. Patrick’s Day.
I also make this drink with cannabis-infused absinthe, but the process of infusing alcohol can be somewhat dangerous, so I’ve omitted it here. If you’re interested in going further, check out my book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics for in-depth instructions on infusing various types of alcohol with weed.
6 grams Cannabis
16 oz Maple Syrup
(Chef’s Note: I use the really dark maple syrup, known as Grade B.)
First, decarboxylate your cannabis for 45 minutes at 240ºF in the oven. Grind up the herb and place it in a pie plate covered tightly in foil. Toasting the herb ensures that all of the THC is activated to the fullest!
Use a double boiler (a bowl over a pot, with a few inches of water in the pot to maintain a constant temperature) to heat your maple syrup to 160ºF, using a candy thermometer to measure the temperature. Add the cannabis to a cheesecloth pouch so it’s easier to remove later, and immerse it in the hot syrup.
Infuse for minimum of two hours, checking often to make sure the water in the double boiler hasn’t evaporated. After you remove the cannabis, squeeze it thoroughly to get every drop of syrup out. Let cool and use in your drinks, or over a stack of pancakes for a morning buzz!
608 Bush Street Cocktail
½ oz (15 ml) Absinthe
½ oz (15 ml) Infused Marijuana Maple Syrup
½ oz (15 ml) White Balsamic Vinegar (tangy and slightly sweet)
¼ oz Calvados (Apple Brandy from Normandy in France) or a domestic version of which there are many!
¼ oz Rye Whiskey of your choice (I used Barrell Whiskey)
3-5 shakes of a Creole Bitters of your choice (bright red in color, signifying great strength)
Lemon Peel Twist
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail mixing glass filled ¾ with bar ice.
Stir 30 to 50 times to cool, but not dilute. Strain the liquid into a rocks glass.
Add the lemon or orange peel twist to the glass. Dot with a couple more drops of the Creole Bitters.
Serve to an appreciative friend! Never drink more than one or two at the very most in an hour. There is no rush to get where you are going. Always drink plenty of water to balance the effects of alcohol and never drink and drive!
Noted mixologist and marijuana enthusiast Warren Bobrow has combined his two passions into one fantastic book that’s sure to be a fixture on the shelves of hedonistic cannaphiles everywhere. Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonicscontains 75 recipes for all types of fantastic drinks subtly infused with THC. Beyond his classy options for inebriation, Bobrow shares considerable knowledge on the origins of healing tonics and how alcohol-based cannabis tinctures were once a vital ingredient in the apothecarist’s pantry.
Chapters include basic instruction on infusing alcohol, preparing tonics, shrubs and tinctures, and then using these base ingredients to infuse afternoon liveners, after dinner drinks, warming beverages to chase away the chill and cooling beverages to soothe the brow. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to infuse cannabis into absinthe, make marijuana simple syrup or add THC to a cocktail cherry, look no further than this indispensable volume.
Creating a diverse supply of cannabis-infused milks, tinctures, oils, syrups and shrubs allows a mixologist to add a new dimension to craft cocktails, which Bobrow describes as “an alternative means for dispensing the medicine that’s incredibly intriguing.” In-depth instructions on infusing cannabis into various types of liquors emphasize safety in preparation and while imbibing. Plenty of mocktail recipes for different types of THC-infused drinks offer opportunities for those seeking an alternative method of inebriation to completely substitute cannabis for alcohol.
“Less is more,” Bobrow cautions, relating tales of his own overwhelming experiences that led him to cut back the levels of alcohol in this collection of drink recipes, aimed at finding a harmonious balance between bud and booze. Bobrow’s foolproof tip for a come-down cocktail involves a “glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice and chewing three peppercorns,” which helped him feel much better after an enhanced evening at Disneyland went way too far up “Space Mountain.”
Some cannabis cocktails use a tincture to deliver the right THC dose.An authority on cocktail history, legend and lore, Bobrow explained, “as I started experimenting with bitters, I realized you can add balance and depth to a craft cocktail and have it be healing at the same time.” Aromatic bitters were traditionally used to treat an upset stomach, and their curative qualities pair well with cannabis.
A “shrub” is a fruit-infused syrup made by combining fresh berries or preserves with some type of vinegar and sugar to preserve seasonal flavors and incorporate them into cocktails. Bobrow’s Quick Strawberry-Balsamic Cannabis Shrub steeps ground, activated cannabis with strawberry preserves and white balsamic vinegar to create a sweet sensi syrup for use in drinks like Dr. Bamford’s Mystery Mocktail, a concoction of shrub, seltzer, bitters and mint described as a “sophisticated and refreshing warm weather apertif.”
Cannabis-infused milks find their way into a variety of coffee drinks, while a THC-infused maple syrup adds psychedelic sweetness to a Maple Syrup Sazerac, and cannacoconut oil adds a sweet sensi note to Bobrow’s version of a mimosa, dubbed “If It Keeps on Rainin’, Levee’s Goin’ To Break.”
Each drink is elegant, idiosyncratic and full of subtle nuances, with every consideration taken into account, such as the size, shape and flavor of the ice cubes, as well as the shape of the glass holding your tasty beverage. Marijuana mixology is indeed an elevated art form, one that comes with ice made of coconut water, smoked ice cubes, spritzes of THC-infused absinthe and cannabis-infused cask-aged blended Scotch whiskey topped with a greenish cocktail cherry, garnished with a pot leaf.
Welcome to connoisseurship on a whole new level.
The marijuana mixologist favors not only handmade craft liquors from small producers using organic ingredients, but also the finest cannabis flowers.
“You don’t want to use schwag weed to make your infusions,” Bobrow explained. “You want to use the very best things you have at your disposal.”
Preferring skunky, citrusy OG Kush, Blue Dream and Pineapple Kush, Bobrow says that beer hops and cannabis are so closely related that “there’s no reason why you can’t use them interchangeably.”
A dedicated cannabis enthusiast and hardcore Deadhead, Bobrow isn’t worried about damaging his reputation in the mainstream mixology world. To the contrary, he’s excited to be able to embrace his passion and finally do what he truly loves.
“I’d much rather sit and smoke a little grass than drink any day,” Bobrow said. “When you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life.”
When you get home from a day of hard work (or not), reward yourself with the exquisite experience of a perfectly crafted cocktail enhanced with just the right amount of cannabis. Bobrow recommends pacing yourself and drinking no more than one cocktail per hour, since the point is to balance the cannabis and alcohol, not to go overboard.
The Dramatis Personae is my cocktail whisperer’s riff on the Vieux Carré, the classic New Orleans cocktail. My version calls for belly-friendly Creole bitters and uses calvados, or apple brandy, in place of cognac. Sound like an unusual cast of characters? It gets better. Enter a spritz of infused absinthe, stage right. Finish the Dramatis Personae by pouring a little infused absinthe into an atomizer or spray bottle and topping the drink with just a whiff of the medicated spirit. When you’re infusing your absinthe, try an Indica strain like Mr. Nice. It’s earthy and sweet, with pungent aromatics that enhance the aniseed and herbal notes in the absinthe.—Warren Bobrow
Real shrubs for your cocktail glass, not the kind that take up room in your front yard, are a strange and delicious concoctions of vinegar and sugar-preserved fruit syrup.During the late summer months, they are especially delicious because they are inexpensive to make and quite thirst slaking.And guess what? This respectable beverage that has its roots in the Colonial Era and are making a comeback in restaurants, craft cocktail bars, and even at home.
The history of Shrubs dates back hundreds of years. They were most frequently used into the mid-1800s, regularly among the working class because utter lack of refrigeration (and electricity) for the preservation of fresh ingredients.No refrigeration meant all bad things to the gut.
Home-made, vinegar based fruit syrup was an inexpensive, sweet refreshment that could be added to a multitude of liquids. People found that drinking certain kinds of acidulated liquids like shrubs helped ease their aching bellies from the consumption of ‘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…
The acidic vinegar based beverages helped to purify their poisonous drinking water in the ages before sanitization.
When fizzy, cheaply produced soda pop hit the scene in the late 1800’s, shrubs all but disappeared from popular drinking vernacular and might have been lost forever if it wasn’t for the resurgence of the popularity of barmen such as Jerry Thomas.
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.
Classical elements and techniques are hot behind the cocktail stick because they are authentic!
Shrubs can be simply made with only three easy-to-purchase ingredients: raw sugar, some kind of vinegar and fruit, plus a bit of water. They have a salty, sea-like undertone 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!
Here are two of my favorite shrubs, along with three cocktail recipes.
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 1/2 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, Scotch, Sherry, white wine- and of course just plain seltzer water!
1 cup very ripe organic raspberries (they can be bruised and soft, but please, no mold)
1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup raw cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s with the Mother Yeast intact)
In a nonreactive bowl, 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, this is good!
After a few days of gentle fermentation, add vinegar. Let the vinegar combine with the sugar and raspberries for another week refrigerated.
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. Cover and refrigerate for at least a week more, shaking well before using.
The assertive vinegar flavor will fade over time, leaving you a 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.
AFTER A PAUSE:
Late Summer Punch(serves 2)
4 ounces Mezan XO Jamaican Rum
3 ounces Raspberry Shrub
½ ounce Freshly Squeezed Lime juice
1 ounce Freshly Squeezed Lemon juice
1 ounce Freshly Squeezed Orange juice
4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice. Pour the Mezan XO Rum, your handmade Shrub and juices over the ice. Cover, cap and shake hard for 15 seconds or until 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.
Roasted Peach Shrub
Makes about 1 1/2 Cups
2-3 pounds peaches, preferably extra ripe, roughly chopped
2¼ cups raw cane sugar, divided
2 cups Champagne vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Arrange peaches on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the sugar and roast for 45 minutes or until deeply caramelized. Let cool and transfer to a nonreactive bowl.
Cover roasted peaches with remaining 2 cups sugar. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for several days, stirring often to mash and muddle the peaches and release peach-flavored sugar syrup.
After a few days, add the vinegar. It may bubble a bit, which is ideal. Cover and let sit refrigerated for a further week, stirring twice daily to release the flavors.
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 into sterilized jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least another week before using.This shrub takes at least three weeks to actualize.Please, plan ahead!
Note: If your shrubs ever become fuzzy, foamy, spin like whirling dervishes or try to take the car keys, send them down the drain immediately! Mold is not your friend! Remember the Salem Witch trials and the fun they had with home-made mold!
Only Fair Play Allowed
2½ oz. Roasted Peach Shrub
2½ oz. Barrell Whiskey Batch #002
3 oz. plain seltzer water, divided between the two Old Fashioned glasses with large cubes of hand cut ice
4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Fresh mint, for garnish
Spray of Absinthe
Fill 2 old fashioned glasses with plain ice and water, and then set aside to chill.
Fill a Cocktail Mixing Glass ¾ with ice
Add the Roasted Peach Shrub and the Barrell Whiskey
Stir for at least 30 turns
Pour ice water out of the cocktail glasses and spray the inside of each glass with Absinthe.
Add a couple fresh ice cubes to each glass.
Double strain the cocktail over the ice and top with a splash of seltzer water.
Dot each cocktail with the Angostura Bitters and garnish with impeccably clean and dry sprigs of fresh mint.
Across Rivington Street (mocktail)
Couple pinches of fresh thyme (No Wood please, it’s bitter. Use just the leaf) plus a sprig of thyme just for the garnish
Large Handmade ice cubes
2 oz. Roasted Peach Shrub
2 lemon zests
1 oz. plain seltzer water
Add thyme leafs and a handful of ice to a mixing glass.
Add shrub and your lemon zest. Stir at least 30 times and then strain into a double old-fashioned glass over a large round ice cube.
Add a splash of seltzer water, a couple drops of bitters and garnish with a fresh lemon zest that you pinch over the top and a sprig of fresh thyme over that.
Don’t be afraid of adding more of that Mezan XO Rum if you have it handy.This drink tastes amazing with a couple ounces of Mezan Rum.
The Dramatis Personae is my Cocktail Whisperer’s riff on the Vieux Carré, the classic New Orleans cocktail. My version calls for belly-friendly Creole bitters, and uses Calvados, or apple brandy, in place of cognac. Sound like an unusual cast of characters? It gets better. Enter a spritz of Infused Absinthe, stage right.
Finish the Dramatis Personae by pouring a little Infused Absinthe into an atomizer or spray bottle, and topping the drink with just a whiff of the medicated spirit. When you’re infusing your absinthe, try an Indica strain like Mr. Nice. It’s earthy and sweet, with pungent aromatics that enhance the aniseed and herbal notes in the absinthe.
Text reprinted with permission, c/o Fair Winds Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group.
Marijuana smoke, to flavor
0.5 oz (15 ml) rye whiskey
0.5 oz (15 ml) sweet vermouth
0.25 oz Calvados
3-4 dashes Creole-style bitters
2-3 dashes aromatic bitters
Spritz of infused absinthe
Before you fill your mixing glass with ice, turn it upside down and burn some cannabis under it in order to fill it with smoke.
Turn it right side up, and immediately fill it three-quarters full with ice (now you’ve made smoked ice!).
Add all the other ingredients except the absinthe, and stir fifty times.
Strain into a pre-chilled glass, and finish with a spritz of Infused Absinthe.
There is an easy going congeniality in Charleston, South Carolina.
I lived in Charleston during the 1980’s, started a fresh pasta business, attended Johnson/Wales- cooked and bartended at the Primrose House and Tavern- then left after Hurricane Hugo crashed the party.
I never returned. There were many ghosts that I had to deal with intermixed with feelings about the this town, like no other that I’ve ever lived. My dreams of Charleston from the past have haunted me for years.
It’s that kind of place.
From the dripping Spanish Moss to the whisper soft voices of the way people speak down in Charleston, I’ve felt like it was a part of me for longer than I can imagine.
I drove non-stop from Morristown to Charleston. Food and fuel the only real stops.
This gracious lady of the New South, is as elegant as ever. She has been recreated with pleasure as her first name.
All ravages of Hurricane Hugo have been erased like the rapid progression of the Kudzu vine across the Low Country landscape. Erasing the past in a swath of green.
I discovered a city that had grown up, yet still retains her “village by the sea” appeal and candor.
There is serious food here now and serious drink.
The chefs are filled with a passion for local, fresh, terroir and the brilliant flavor of the ocean. There is something about the nature of the pluff mud, tidal flats that makes the water alive with possibilities.
In a former life I lived in Portland, Maine. Portland was similar in my imagination to Charleston from a perspective of friendly to really great seafood. It’s just freezing there! Too cold for me!
Oysters in South Carolina taste like no where else in the world. They are just about ravishing with a crisp glass of Rum! While in Charleston I was fortunate to snag a mini-bottle of Striped Pig Rum. This is the real thing. I would drink it with a splash of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water and a slice of Meyer Lemon. Maybe a splash of Sweet Iced Tea- but that would cover up the sublime freshness of Striped Pig. This rum is redolent with the flavor of the place. It’s creamy-has a lovely finish of cane juice to heat to spice. I’m tasting it straight from the mini-bottle. No mixer but air.
This is fabulous Rum. I simply cannot wait to enjoy another cocktail with Todd Weiss, the owner of the Striped Pig distillery. The Gin Joint was, as you said… World class. There’s just something about cocktails down here. Maybe it’s the air, soft and laced with salt.
2 Shots of Striped Pig to a shaker filled 1/2 with ice
1/2 Shot Tenneyson Absinthe
4 Tablespoons of Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Autumn Plum
1 Medicine Dropper full of the Figgy Pudding
Shake and strain into a tall glass with some ice made from Coconut water
Charleston is a place of all kinds of possibilities. They embrace their history and catapult into the future. It’s like a living museum.
The Belmont Lounge is located on a part of King Street that one would not venture to in the 1980’s. Visually I remember a mostly bombed out area, nearly void of soul and life.
You would not want to walk there during the day and at night, well, I never did.
I lived on Charlotte Street and spent Hurricane Hugo in a kitchen house at #29. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever experienced.
Now upper King Street is buzzing with activity. I must admit that the first time I ventured above Calhoun Street, I was a bit concerned for safety. No more. The Charleston PD don’t just drive the streets, they walk them, bike them and make sure the area is very well observed. I’m impressed.
I wandered in off the street to find a cocktail lounge worthy of New York or even Barcelona. The groove was apparent in the lighting and the screening of “The Big Sleep” in glorious Black and White on the wall. The lighting, low and sensuous- the music not overwhelming. People spend more time talking than using their smart phones. They interact with the extremely congenial bar staff who genuinely have the knack and gift of gab. There is an Italian machine meant for slicing Salumi and a very high quality espresso machine for turning out perfect Irish coffee, topped by a thick mantle of cream. The bartenders are shorn in crisp white shirts with skinny ties. A bright red B for Belmont graces the bottom the tie.
Even the cocktail napkins are emblazoned with the B. Nice touch. I wanted one, but thought it better to ask first. (I didn’t take one)
The salumi is brilliant, the cured pork redolent of fat and smoke, a perfect panini of melted tomato and mozzerella cheese delights! Too much food! Pickled vegetables abound, was that pickled okra? I really must be showing my Yankee inclinations now!
Yes, judging by the bar, I felt right at home.
I met Joey Ryan at the bar. He has an easy-going style and friendly demeanor that is instructional and kind.
He invented a cocktail known as the Off-Duty Bartender. My friend Federico Cuco down in Argentina would be proud of this drink because of the use of Cynar.
I’m reproduced it here with my complements:
Absinthe Rinse (add Absinthe to a glass with ice and water, then pour out.. preferably into my mouth)
2 oz 100 proof Rye I prefer Rittenhouse
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Fernet Branca
3/4 Punt e Mes
Stir ingredients in mixing glass while rocks glass is chilling with Absinthe rinse.
Strain ingredients in chilled glass after discarding ice. add large rock, and top with orange bitters.
The Belmont Lounge
511 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Joey, Hat’s off to you and the Belmont. I could spend much time in your care.
Yesterday I was contemplating Pimms Cup. The addition of lemonade is particularly inviting. I added to the mix by the inclusion of Absinthe. Somehow the very mention of Absinthe makes me think of two places. New Orleans and Charleston. Two very European cities firmly grounded in the United States.
Woolworth’s Lunch Counter Surprise
Sweet Ice Tea
Freshly made seltzer
Add 2 Shots of Pimms to the fresh Lemonade and Sweet Iced Tea
Add 1 Shot of Lucid Absinthe
Top with freshly drawn seltzer
Garnish with a home cured cherry (essential!)
Swing on the porch swing to make the pain go away
Pluff Mud Cocktail
Snap (USDA Certified Ginger Snap Liquor)
Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon
Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters
Make a nice cup of Hot Chocolate
Add 2 Shots of Snap
Add 1 Shot of Knob Creek
Add 3 drops of the Bitter End Bitters
Makes two rather lovely cocktails perfect for a cool night or dessert
Sullivan’s Island Smash
2 Shots of Striped Pig White Rum
1 Shot Cane Syrup
1 Shot Freshly squeezed orange juice
4 ozs. Coconut water (sweetened)
Coconut Water Ice
To a cocktail shaker, fill 1/3 with regular ice
Add Coconut Water
Shake and strain into small rocks glasses with Coconut Water ice cubes
Smash the Coconut Water cubes in a towel for maximum extraction of flavor!
Garnish with fresh mint and freshly scraped nutmeg- ESSENTIAL!!!
All Photography by Warren Bobrow with Leica M8, 50mm Summicron F2
Absinthe stirs the imagination. All those paintings from France in the 1800’s exemplifying the mystical aspects of this misunderstood liquor makes me want to delve deeply into measured sips. But how does Absinthe work? It does because of the mystique surrounding the clear liquid that somehow turns cloudy after dripping scant drops of water over the surface. Magic happens! Sure there are the botanical herbs, of course there is the ever-present alcohol- you cannot miss that with many varieties exceeding 120 proof!
Absinthe is powerful stuff indeed!
I love Absinthe because of the bad boy (bad girl) element. From a flavor perspective, Absinthe is every bit as delicious as botanical Gin, but it is thicker somehow. On the first taste, you can feel the creamy texture against your lips and tongue- then- coming quickly into view is the anise elements- then suddenly as if a monster awakened- the brooding depth of the alcohol. Sweet, savory, tart and herbal elements differ from brand to brand. The European varieties are known to contain certain long banned ingredients, but the American ones are no less potent. The rumor of a brand of Absinthe that may have plied Van Gogh to cut off his ear is known as the Green Fairy- good luck finding it! (No, not his ear) La Fee Verte.
This week’s cocktail is woven of Absinthe, freshly squeezed, charred grapefruit juice and a splash of Q-Tonic water. Q-Tonic water is available in nearly every Williams-Sonoma store and also in Whole Foods. It’s worth the extra expense for a hand-made product!
I’ve taken a small producer Absinthe from St. George in California- certainly available around the country- although you can use your choice of Absinthe- and added freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. I char the grapefruit segments in a cast iron pan before juicing to reveal a deeper personality and a hint of mystery!