I’ll be signing books at the lovely Savoy Taproom, 301 Lark Street – Albany NY – 12210 3:00 – 6:00 pm Today, Sunday April 30!
From ancient times until the early twentieth century, cocktails were the domain of healers, pharmacists, and apothecaries. Tinctures, bitters, elixirs, and tonics were created from herbs, flowers, fruit, vegetables, and alcohol to cure stomach ailments, respiratory troubles, and more. Warren Bobrow’s Apothecary Cocktails draws on this rich and delicious tradition so you can make your own restorative drinks at home.
• Who wrote it: Warren Bobrow
• Who published it: Fair Winds Press
• Number of recipes: 75
• Recipes for right now: Fernet Branca with English Breakfast Tea and Raw Honey, Roasted Beet Borscht with Sour Cream and Vodka, Hot Buttered Rum: The Sailor’s Cure-All, The Painkiller Prescriptive, Herbal Sleep Punch, Chartreuse Curative
• Other highlights: Apothecary Cocktails is a fun and informative book for anyone who’s interested in cocktail history, herbal medicine, or who simply wants a good excuse to imbibe. Like a handbook for every season and mood, it’s organized into chapters for Digestives and Other Curatives, Winter Warmers, Hot Weather Refreshers, Restoratives, Relaxants and Toddies, Painkilling Libations, and Mood Enhancers.
Warren Bobrow includes classic cocktails, variations, and unique creations with in-depth recipe headnotes that delve into the history and health benefits of ingredients. Beyond bitters, botanical gin, absinthe, and other liquors, the recipes will have you reaching beyond the liquor cabinet for kitchen ingredients like teas, fresh fruits and herbs, and spices.
• Who would enjoy this book? Home mixologists, people interested in herbal remedies, cocktail history buffs
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon:Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today by Warren Bobrow
Like the word “gay,” the term “edible” has adopted a radically different accepted use than was originally intended. Thanks to mainstream media coverage of medicinal marijuana and the drug’s recreational legalization in seven states, plus Washington, D.C., “edibles” now generally refer to the psychoactive chemical compounds in marijuana … ingestible in the form of food as simple as a jelly bean or as gourmet as fois gras.
While basement chemists and chefs continue to elaborate on edibles, the market is looking toward “drinkables” as the next frontier in catching a high. Some weed-legal states like Washington are already licensing the sale of non-alcoholic beverages that contain THC, the chemical in cannabis that produces the buzz, and DIY mixologists are putting out cannabis cocktail recipes as fast as their minds can fire them up.
Still, the federal government, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, prohibits the addition of THC to commercial alcohol products. However, analysts expect the category to eventually ignite, and producers are positioning themselves for an inevitable rule reversal by seeking and receiving permission to infuse their products with non-psychoactive marijuana compounds like hemp and a type of cannabinoid called CBD. Some medical professionals believe CBD can actually help counter the adverse effects of THC like anxiety and has its own therapeutic properties, though controversy exists at the highest levels over whether CBD is technically legal or not.
Not much product has hit the scene yet but it is slowly becoming, as they say, “a thing.” The category first came to my attention a few years ago with the release of Humboldt Brewing’s Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale. I don’t remember much about it other than it was pretty forgettable.
He also tells me he knows of just two North American distilleries – one in British Columbia and another in Alaska — that started selling hemp vodka before he launched his last spring but since then he’s received numerous phone calls from entrepreneurs looking for advice. In October, the TTB approved a Colorado beer brewed with CBD, which also doesn’t spark a buzz, for national sale.
“It has a relationship to the growing interest in cannabis. That’s our sales angle, as it certainly helps the story,” he says of his own spirit, which retails for $29.99 MSRP. “But the market needs this product because it’s something new and the herbal quality makes nice cocktails.”
The hemp primarily comes through in the vodka’s aroma though it can be hard to discern among the other botanicals. Plus, the smell of the hemp oils can dissipate quickly.
So if it doesn’t get you high, doesn’t taste like dank herb and doesn’t even smell like a freshly lit Rastafarian, is there really a point? Stevens, who sells Humboldt’s Finest in about a dozen states patchworked across the U.S., says he gets that question all the time, especially from the west coast.
“Sometimes with people who’re really into the cannabis culture … we specifically try and even avoid that aspect and focus on the craft cocktail aspect. In Mississippi and Georgia they don’t have a legal marijuana outlet so to them there’s possibly a lot more novelty,” he says.
Until such a time when the feds do license THC-infused spirits, Humboldt’s Finest and its competitors can find sanctuary behind the bar next to an endless range of DIY possibilities that are building the backbone of today’s craft cannabis cocktail scene. Since around 2014, magazines and websites have been teaching readers how to make (mostly illegal) THC infusions of spirits, syrups, bitters, and the like. Last year, renowned cocktail author Warren Bobrow published the first book on marijuana cocktails, called Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics – The Art of Spirits Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations and containing 75 self-tested recipes.
But its publication hasn’t brought the New Jersey-based writer much wellness himself. He’s lost consulting clients on the east coast and his father literally disowned him before he died. While his dad had his own reasons for shunning his son, Bobrow’s big-liquor friends presumably stopped associating with him because conventional wisdom says that pot cuts into sales of beer and spirits. Bobrow’s actually made this argument himself, as has Cowan and Company, which made news by entering the marijuana investment space and analyzing a Nielsen report that showed beer sales dropping in three states where the drug has become legal.
Regardless of whether legal consumption will harm or help alcoholic beverages in the long term, one aspect does need to be addressed: the effects of mixing alcohol and pot.
“This is a legitimate concern,” says Swartz. “People must be careful to pace themselves when consuming alcohol and cannabis simultaneously. But after more people learn how, I believe mixing cannabis and alcohol will become even more socially acceptable.”
Right now, it’s not necessarily publicly acceptable, even in states where it’s legal. Californians need a card to purchase weed, and a sales guy at an extraordinarily professional dispensary in Bend, Oregon, told me to furtively smoke my legally purchased $9 joint on a dark residential sidewalk instead of lighting up at the bar where my friends were enjoying craft beers, cocktails and cigars. Did I order any fewer drinks than I might have? Yes. But not because I was stoned. Rather, it’s because I had to leave the bar for 20 minutes at a time to light up in secret. Had I been able to ingest my intoxicant as an alcoholic digestible I could have sat there far longer … and I probably would have ordered even more.
OUT OF THIS WORLD: THE 11TH ANNUAL SPIRITED AWARDS
In 2017, we’re taking Tales of the Cocktail beyond the stratosphere at the 11th Annual Spirited Awards. The show might be here on Earth at the Sheraton New Orleans, but the celestial inspired cocktails served will be otherworldly as we hand out awards for the best bars, bartenders, distillers, ambassadors and writers from around the world (and beyond?)
The Spirited Awards Ceremony Saturday, April 22nd The Sheraton New Orleans
If you’re feeling especially festive come in your favorite outer space or futuristic-themed attire as we celebrate the out-of-this-world talent of our industry.
NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN APRIL 1-30, 2017
Tickets on Sale this Summer
Muddle, mix, shake, stir, pour–whatever the method, you’ll learn how to create the perfect cocktail.
Whether you’re new to mixing drinks or have been creating your own cocktails for years, The Craft Cocktail Compendium © has everything you need to know to mix, shake, or stir your way to a delicious drink. With over 200 craft cocktail recipes, expert mixologist Warren Bobrow will help you broaden your skills and excite your taste buds with unique takes on timeless favorites and recipes you’ve likely never tried before.
AVAILABLE MAY 1, 2017!
And because I was able to convince my publisher that drinking Cannabis is far preferable to smoking or eating it, we went ahead and published this brand new book.
My first book, Apothecary Cocktails offered my view of the type of ‘cocktails’ that may have been enjoyed in the early apothecary.
And in full disclosure, no!!! I’m not a doctor. Nope. But what I am is a celebrated mixologist and former trained chef who is fascinated by flavor.
So indulge me for a moment while I let you know that Cannabis appeared in the early pharmacy, not as the much vilified Snake Oil- but- quite possibly the only ingredient that actually cured anything? I’m not sure- because again, I’m not a doctor- I don’t even play one on television. But I do know that Cannabis has been used in the healing arts for many thousands of years. Way before this is your brain on drugs. (I saw this commercial again the other night.. funny!)
I wrote Cannabis Cocktails to play with flavor. It gives the whole bagel recipe. You shall have the ability to decarb, to infuse and to create some pretty fun drinks. Or if you don’t want to use alcohol with your Cannabis, there are some Mock-Tails, like my Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Cannabis Infused Condensed Milk… (the perfect medium is high fat condensed milk… try it!)
There are no edibles in the book. And I will say this and say it again. Know your raw ingredients. Use tested Cannabis… Remember what you learned about eating spicy Thai food. Start slow. Don’t have more than one cocktail per hour or more!
I’ll be sharing with you some of my creations and hope you enjoy trying them. Meanwhile, this is how you can order my book(s).
I can be reached on Twitter: @warrenbobrow1
Cannabis Cocktails… Available on Amazon!
Ulysses Left on Ithaca Cocktail
Come fall, my palate is already calling out for the heat and aroma from the fireplace. There is something about wood heat that fills me with warmth for the coming cold months. I love the snap of the fire and the brooding heat that fills the room.
The same holds true for my cocktails. I seek out brown liquors that speak of warmth like whiskey spun into a very seasonal cocktail.
Smoked American whiskey is a wonderful match for a citrus-oil–tinged tea like Earl Grey. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you start spiking your morning pick-me-up; this delicate cocktail proves that Earl Grey isn’t just for breakfast anymore. Bound together by homemade ginger simple syrup, the Ulysses delivers spicy, sweet, smoky, and even salty—all at once. This cocktail is named for the Greek hero of the epic poem The Odyssey. Reluctant to leave his homeland of Ithaca, he pretended to be insane by sowing his fields with salt instead of grain. In his honor, the final touch to the Ulysses is a pinch of sea salt, which adds an unexpected, crunchy kick. It’s a delicious finish. The ingredients for this cocktail are simplicity themselves, but the sum of the parts is truly bewitching.
- 4 ounces (120 ml) freshly brewed Earl Grey tea, cooled
- 3 ounces (90 ml) smoked American whiskey (like Balcones Brimstone or the salubrious and rare, limited edition- Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon)
- 2- ounces (60 ml) Spicy Ginger Honey Simple Syrup (see below)
- 1-ounce (30 ml) club soda
- 2 pinches of sea salt
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Brew and cool the Earl Grey tea.
- Fill a mixing glass three-quarters full with ice.
- Pour the whiskey, tea, and the Spicy Ginger Honey Simple Syrup over the ice, then stir to combine.
- Taste for sweetness: If it’s not sweet enough, add a bit more simple syrup.
- Place a chunk of hand-cut ice into each of two short rocks glasses. (If you really want to bring out the gingery taste of the simple syrup, make ginger ice in advance: Freeze slices of fresh ginger root into your homemade ice.)
- Add the splash of club soda to each glass, and top each with a pinch of sea salt to add a welcome “crunch” to each sip.
- Garnish with the thyme sprigs—and get ready to pour a second round.
Raw Honey Simple Syrup:
In a medium saucepan, combine 1-cup (340 g) honey with 1/2 cup (120 ml) water and simmer, mixing until the honey has dissolved. Let the mixture cool. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a month.
Ginger Honey Simple Syrup:
Make a batch of Raw Honey Simple Syrup. Add 1/4 cup (25 g) finely chopped fresh (preferably young) ginger. Pour the mixture into an airtight container, and let it steep in the fridge for a couple days. Strain before using. Use within 2 weeks. If it becomes frothy or speaks in pirate tongues, throw it out!
Spicy Ginger Honey Simple Syrup:
Make a batch of Raw Ginger Honey Simple Syrup, and add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Pour the mixture into an airtight container, and let it steep in the fridge for a couple days. Strain before using. Use within 2 weeks. This can also be added to a glass of seltzer water, making ginger beer that you’ve never tasted before! Can you say Dark and….. STORMY?
Favorite tipples from the book, Apothecary Cocktails
Give your merry-making a healthy makeover with these 10 healing drinks from Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today. From a buttery hot toddy to a gin-and-basil tonic, these curative drinks have roots in the era when pharmacy-mixed potions were prescriptions for what ailed you.
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist and creator of the Cocktail Whisperer.
Chiles may set your heart racing and make you break out in a sweat, but eating them should leave you feeling cleansed and purified in both body and soul. Historically, pharmacies may have concocted products combining chile peppers with magnesium. When these ingredients were combined with grain alcohol and used either as an external salve or an internal elixir, they offered sufferers relief from painful ailments, such as lower back pain, muscle cramps, and fibromyalgia. Today, a chili-laden cocktail is a great way to relieve headaches caused by overindulgence.
Like the classic Bloody Mary, its tomato base is jam-packed with the antioxidant lycopene, but the addition of onions, chiles, and leafy magnesium-rich green vegetables make this cocktail super-healthy, closer to a salad in a glass. A Deep Healer with a protein-packed brunch, such as a veggie omelet, will fix that pesky hangover in no time.
1 c (250 g) tomato purée
½ c (125 g) onion purée
¼ c (65 g) hot chile paste
1 oz (28 g) spinach, kale, or other dark leafy green
5 oz (150 ml) vodka
1. ADD all ingredients to a blender, and blend on regular speed until thoroughly combined.
2. SERVE over ice cubes in two tall glasses, and wait for the pain to evaporate.
Saffron has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and Asian and Mediterranean cooking for thousands of years. Derived from the crocus flower, this precious spice has been praised for its healing qualities: It’s reputed to be an antiseptic, antidepressant, antioxidant, digestive aid, and anti-convulsion restorative. And it’s been used in the production of herbal liqueurs like Chartreuse, something French imbibers enjoy as an after-dinner drink. Of course, saffron is astronomically expensive, but never fear: As with most good things, a little goes a long way.
This mood-lifting prescriptive combines top-quality Chartreuse with vermouth and egg white for a colorful, frothy little cocktail that’ll brighten up even the greyest day. Top it off with a thread or two of saffron as a nod to Chartreuse’s luscious color.
3 oz (90 ml) Chartreuse VEP
1 oz (30 ml) dry vermouth
1 egg white
2 to 3 saffron threads
1. ADD the Chartreuse, vermouth, and egg white to a Boston Shaker; then fill the shaker three- quarters full with ice.
2. SHAKE vigorously for 20 seconds until frothy. Strain the mixture into a coupé glass, and garnish with the saffron. Then sit back and watch sinking spirits rise.
While you may not be able to actually cure a cold, it’s certainly possible to relieve its symptoms. Peppermint has analgesic qualities, which means it’s known to ease cold-related pain like headaches. Peppermint infusions can also relieve ailments of the stomach, such as nausea, indigestion, and seasickness. It’s also used in Bénédictine, one of the main ingredients in this insomnia-banishing drink. Be sure to crown your Cold Cure #1001 with Jamaican bitters, which are said to contain ingredients widely used in folk healing, such as allspice, ginger, and black pepper. Breathe deeply before taking a sip of this curative: If that pesky cold makes breathing feel like snorkeling with a drinking straw, a few whiffs of these aromas will alleviate congestion and speed snoozing.
12-oz (355 ml) pot of hot peppermint tea
5 to 6 oz (150 to 175 ml) Bénédictine
3 to 4 oz (90 to 120 ml) sweet vermouth
10 drops Jamaican bitters
1. PREPARE the pot of peppermint tea; then remove the teabags.
2. PREHEAT two large mugs by filling them with boiling water; discard the water after a few seconds.
3. ADD the Bénédictine, followed by the vermouth, to the pot. Mix gently, and let the mixture sit for a few minutes.
4. ADD the bitters, pour into the mugs, and serve immediately. Inhale, soothing those grumpy sinuses.
The hot toddy cocktails we know and love today have their roots in the days of yore, when apothecaries might have prescribed them for relief against the aches and pains the Siberian-strength cold weather brings on. Hot toddies are cocktails in which hot or boiling water is added to spirits and other ingredients, and many of these tasty, warming tipples were created to ease cold and flu symptoms. Ships’ doctors may have delivered doses of this classic hot buttered rum to sailors to relieve aching bones and flagging spirits. Four magic ingredients—hot tea, sugar, butter, and rum—shore up every sailor who’s ever headed face-first into a full gale. Today, this curative is a treat that goes down smoothly after a long day of skiing, hiking, or just sitting by the fire.
Hot black tea
6 oz (175 ml) rum
Dark brown sugar to taste
2 tsp butter (9 g or about 2 acorn-sized lumps)
Freshly grated nutmeg
1. BREW a pot of strong black tea. While the tea is steeping, preheat mugs by filling them with boiling water; discard the water after a few seconds.
2. ADD 3 oz (90 ml) of rum to each mug. Fill each mug with tea and mix gently.
3. SWEETEN to taste with dark brown sugar. Add an acorn-sized lump of butter to each mug, and dust each drink with fresh nutmeg. Anchors aweigh!
Genever, the botanical gin that hails from Holland and Belgium, has been used as a curative for more than 500 years, and it’s packed with healing ingredients like nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, angelica, thistle, sweet orange peel, and grains of paradise. It’s a natural match for citrus juices, like oranges and lemon—although in the early days of the apothecaries, citrus fruits were so exotic that you’d rarely catch a glimpse of them outside of the tropics. Nonetheless, pharmacists may have prescribed a combination of fruits, spices, and grain-based spirits as a speedy antidote to pain. This warm tonic unites citrus, fresh ginger, green tea, and mineral-rich Brazil nuts, which are meant to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, into a gently warming prescription that eases all sorts of aches.
3 oz (90 ml) genever
1 oz (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 oz (30 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp (15 g) powdered Brazil nuts
Warm green tea
COMBINE all ingredients in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the ginger releases its perfume (about 10 minutes). Pour into teacups and serve.
When it comes to curatives that enhance restful sleep, hot drinks aren’t the only answer. A punch made from herbal teas and botanical gin can relieve sleeplessness, even when it feels as if nothing could bring you closer to the Land of Nod. This cocktail combines infusions of herbs known to relax the sleep-deprived, and traditional apothecaries would have been well-versed in their benefits. Chamomile, an anti-inflammatory, has been used as an antidote to anxiety for centuries, while lavender is said to gently ease irritating sleep disturbances. Fennel helps to keep digestion on track. A dose of botanical gin and lime juice bind the infusions together into a gentle tipple that will help turn off the lights for even the most dedicated insomniac.
1 tea bag each chamomile tea, lavender tea, and fennel tea
Juice of 1 lime
Honey simple syrup (1 c boiling water + 1 c honey, mixed and dissolved), to taste
3 oz (90 ml) botanical gin
1. INFUSE the teabags in 5 oz (150 ml) hot water for at least an hour and let cool.
2. PACK a tall glass with ice. Pour the tea over the ice; add the lime juice, and sweeten to taste with the honey simple syrup.
3. ADD the gin, and mix gently. G’night!
Fernet Branca was invented in nineteenth-century Italy to ease maladies of the belly, and it’s certainly retained its marketing mystique even a century and a half later. Fernet is easy to quaff on its own or mixed with cola—but it’s just as good served steaming hot. In the Caribbean, it’s often paired with English breakfast tea and honey, a combination that’s said to relieve stomachaches of all sorts. Plus, as any apothecary of auld lang syne would have agreed, both warm liquids and honey can aid digestion.
Nota bene: While it calls for English breakfast tea, I don’t recommend trying this curative for breakfast. You’ve been warned.
3 oz (90 ml) Fernet Branca
Pot of strong English breakfast tea (about 2 c, or 475 ml)
2 Tbsp (40 g) raw honey
1. PREHEAT two mugs by filling them with boiling water; discard the water after a few seconds.
2. ADD 1½ oz (45 ml) of Fernet Branca to each mug. Fill the mugs with tea, and stir 1 Tbsp of honey into each mug. Sip slowly, and let the healing begin.
Combining ginger—said to be an effective cure for a variety of ailments, including headaches, motion sickness, fatigue, and pregnancy-related nausea—with hot punches or beer is a classic way to use the root as a curative, as sailors of yesteryear would have known. Named after the honorable doctor in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island, this cocktail matches ginger beer with its natural partner, rum, into a tipple that rouses the mood and washes the doldrums away.
3 oz (90 ml) dark rum
4 oz (120 ml) ginger beer (non-alcoholic)
Lime wedge for garnish
1. FILL a Collins glass with ice cubes. Pour the ginger beer over the ice; then float the dark rum on top.
2. GARNISH with a lime wedge to keep scurvy at bay. Drink slowly, and let good cheer fill your sails.
Everyone knows that royal jelly, which is produced by worker bees and fed to their hive-mates, is an important curative in health preparations. But raw (unprocessed) honey is also deeply curative, and what’s more, the distillation of spirits using raw honey is an ancient, well-regarded technique. Honey has been used medicinally at least since ancient Egyptian civilization, and beverages produced from honey, such as mead, have been enjoyed since time immemorial. Raw honey may possess antibacterial qualities and is said to promote weight loss, reduce cholesterol, and relieve symptoms of intestinal disorders. This bubbly cocktail combines sweet mead with tart, refreshing lemonade and a dash of fizzy water into a prescriptive that is sure to cheer and heal at the same time.
6 oz (175 ml) mead
6 oz (175 ml) fresh lemonade
4 dashes of aromatic bitters (any kind)
4 oz (120 ml) seltzer water
1. COMBINE the mead, lemonade, and bitters in a mixing glass or pitcher.
2. STIR to combine, and pour into four short glasses.
3. TOP each glass with about 1 oz (30 ml) of seltzer water, sip, and start feeling like the bee’s knees.
Basil, with its bracing, peppery taste, isn’t just good for pesto. It was said to mitigate the symptoms of malaria and was made into a liniment to soothe sunburns. Basil was also used as a nerve tonic against stress and anxiety, and it is even said to promote longevity. One variety of the herb, called holy basil or Thai basil, is used as an ingredient alongside other green herbs in both absinthe and green Chartreuse, due to its antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. Thai basil can be very effective when it comes to healing a sour stomach: Try a Thai Basil Fizz if you spent last night indulging in spicy food washed down by one too many cocktails.
1 sprig basil, finely chopped
2 oz (60 ml) botanical gin
¼ oz (7 ml) absinthe
3 to 4 shakes of Peychaud’s bitters
2 to 3 oz (60 to 90 ml) ginger beer
Lemon zest twist
1. TOSS the chopped basil into a Boston shaker. (Be sure to lean over the shaker for a restorative whiff of its crisp, spicy scent!)
2. ADD the gin and absinthe, and fill the shaker three-quarters full of ice.
3. SPRINKLE the bitters into the mix, then shake for 20 seconds, strain into a coupé glass, and top with the ginger beer.
4. GARNISH with the lemon zest twist. The heady combination of basil, ginger, and lemon is sure to brush the cobwebs away