By Oren Todoros December 17, 2018
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!
Oh, and don’t forget to check out Warren’s book – Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations.