Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in the U.S. and for New Yorkers that means heading East to escape the city heat and enjoy the historic seaside towns and swanky social scene. I was ecstatic to go to the Hamptons for the first time this season to partake in the festivities. One of the weekend’s most coveted events was the AVENUE on the Beach magazine kickoff party where Mamont Vodka made its debut at the hottest new restaurant KOZU, a restaurant by day and nightclub beach house by night.
Guests nibbled on flavorful ceviche and sushi rolls from KOZU’s Japanese/Peruvian menu while mingling to the eclectic tunes on the outdoor patio. To beat the heat, mixologist Warren Bobrow was busy concocting Siberian Surf specialty cocktails that included Mamont Vodka, Fruitations Grapefruit Syrup, and Pechaud’s Bitters. I loved the drink’s refreshing aroma and others couldn’t get enough of the Siberian vodka either as they lined up to experience the smooth flavor and admired the massive ice sculpture on display.
Also on hand at the event was Blushington, the professional makeup application service, which was offering attendees fresh makeup touchups to ensure they looked picture perfect for the occasion.
After the bash at Kozu, I headed to the northern tip of Long Island in Montauk where trendsetters gathered to celebrate the holiday weekend at another hotspot, The Surf Lodge where New York City nightclub Goldbar had its pop up bar located. The venue was jam packed with gorgeous models in boho chic fringy dresses and sky-high wedges, while the men had button down shirts and shorts reminiscent of Polo ads.
To create even more of a summer atmosphere, beach scenes were projected on a large indoor screen of one of my favorite childhood comedy films, Back to the Beach with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Outdoors, patrons took in the views of the coastline and enjoyed the evening while sipping on Mamont Vodka’s Siberian Surf cocktails, one of the sole sponsors of the event.
The collaboration between the vodka and the venue will continue throughout the summer during key holiday weekends, including 4th of July and Labor Day.
I never fully got it about Mamont until I drank it in Moscow. It was there, in the Ministry of Science that I felt the deep inner meaning of Vodka. And I knew at that moment this was one of the worlds best. And I had to share it. 1/2 oz at a time.
The hottest home accessory I can think of right now is a bar cart! It’s all the rage! Why? Because everyone loves a cocktail, and everyone loves an easily accessible cocktail. This functional piece of furniture allows you to proudly display your collection of liquor and glasses, and everything is presented in a way that makes you feel like you’re living in a suite at The Plaza.
The Rosalind Tea Cart is one of my favorite options right now…the perfect marriage of form, finish and function.
So once you have that perfect bar cart for your space, what exactly should you have on it? What are the essentials? Well, I asked my good friend, Warren Bobrow – a critically acclaimed mixologist and author of several amazing cocktail books – to chime in on the subject.
For a well-rounded bar, he suggests having the following supplies on hand :
A London dry gin, like Boodles.
A botanical gin, like Hendrick’s.
A rye whiskey.
A bourbon for mixing, like Four Roses.
A vodka, like the new Mamont from Siberia.
A bottle of dry vermouth, like Dolin, and sweet vermouth, like Carpano – be sure to refrigerate.
For rum, get a blend, like Mezan XO, and a single batch, like the Mezan Panama 2006.
An orange-flavored cordial, so you can use it in margaritas or gin, vodka and even bourbon-based cocktails.
A fine tequila (and if you’re super esoteric, a bottle of Mescal. No worms though! That just isn’t done.)
A bottle of single malt scotch from India or Japan as a refreshing counterpart to your basic scotch whiskey.
A selection of cane sugar sodas, tonic – sweet and dry – and some shrub syrups are fun, too. There are also plenty of funky bitters that come in all sizes and shapes and have droppers.
One wild card ingredient is balsamic vinegar! Bobrow confesses that he loves making cocktails with it. He says it adds a certain twang to the drink. A white balsamic can also sit on the bar, as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
So now that your bar cart is stocked, what to make? Well, let’s impress your guests with a yummy Manhattan recipe!
Fill three quarters of a cocktail glass with ice
Add 3-5 oz of bourbon whiskey
Add 1 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar
Add 1/2 oz of Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
Stir 40 times…
Strain into a pre-chilled martini glass that has a couple drops of orange bitters, and garnish your drink with a cherry
Now that you have the best cocktails anddecor, your home will be the new hot spot in no time. Cheers!
Flavor is such a personal thing.Now add color to the equation.Are you a bartender who finds that their darker spirits seem to sell better than those lighter ones?I hope you don’t find me presumptuous when I tell you that you’re fooling your clientele.What?Dark doesn’t always mean old, just as flavor is not always a good determinate to freshness.
We have to do better for our guests.Fresh juices and high quality spirits is my mantra.I have a philosophical difficulty with caramel coloring in spirits under the pretense of being old.At the recent Miami Rum Fest, I represented Mezan Rum.It’s easy to speak of Mezan because of what they don’t do to it.No caramel.No chill-filtering.No sugar added.No glycerin (for mouthfeel…) minimally pad filtered to remove the black stuff from the ex-bourbon oak casks.Bourbon whiskey casks by law can only be used one time.Then they leave the rick houses and spill their contents into the bottles that are on the shelf.. that’s Bourbon.These wet casks make their way to the Caribbean (or Mexico for aging Tequila, or Scotland for Scotch Whisky…) the list goes on and on where Bourbon casks go.But one thing is for certain, this wet wood will do well to house a portion of fine rum.
So these casks will house all sorts of spirits.And the really fine ones.The ones that you never see in your favorite liquor store will make their way around the Rhumb Line in the globe.If you know someone who travels, they probably have something authentic in their bar…Seek out this kind of friendship, especially if they share because you’re never going to taste anything like this again- whatever it is.Rum, straight out of the cask, cut to 80 proof is one of life’s simple pleasures.The Terroir is island specific.And even distillery specific because of the yeast.If the distillery uses a wild yeast, well- you can taste it.There is a funky quality to this liquid.
Rum or Rhum?I’m a huge fan of Martinique Rhum.The stuff that says Agricole gets my attention.To be fair, I don’t currently represent an Agricole so I hope that my words resonate on a personal level.I love Agricole because it’s authentic.No, I’m not from the islands- I’ve sailed all over and tasted many different rums and RHUMS.. from many, many places.As much as I call myself a well-traveled man, there are always more well-traveled folks.I’m fortunate to have spent time on our family yacht where drinking well was a true metaphor for living well.
You cannot punish me for authenticity.Nor can you go wrong by experimenting with Rhum Agricole.I like mine very simply.Cane sugar syrup, Fresh lime with the skin (essential) and a hundred proof or more Rhum Agricole.Of course in my forthcoming book, Cannabis Cocktails, I infused a vinegar laden shrub into the lime and added a touch of ginger syrup- not traditional, but I did write the first book on the topic- so it certainly can be anything I want it to be.Right? And that means I added a dosage of THC.Not in this recipe, but you get the gist.
Make your Ti-Punch as you desire.My intellect is somewhat swayed by being out at sea.If you haven’t done it before, don’t.It’s not like being out on a cruise ship.Far from. You might actually have to… sail.
Martinique to me is not a place that you go to soak up the sun on beaches- although I’m sure that activity is available to you- especially the area that experienced volcanic activity.The beaches are gorgeous and the ocean a blue that reminds me of royalty.When the sun is just right and the language is swirling in the background you could be on Cloud Nine.Martinique is that kind of place.I couldn’t imagine working in the cane fields.I wouldn’t last a day.
Now I understand why Rhum placated the worker.It’s rough out there. Razor sharp machetes flying into inches thick cane.. sharp fronds.Syrup that sticks and attracts biting insects.The heat.
What does this have to do with Rhum?
It’s the base.. The soul.
When you drink Rhum Agricole- you drink passion.
So this spring I suggest that you make for your guests a new (but very old) cocktail.The Ti- Punch.
½ lime, cut into small chunks
1 oz. Cane Sugar Simple Syrup- it’s available commercially
3 oz. Rhum Agricole of your choice..I love the ones that Ed Hamilton is bringing in..
Add the lime chunks to a clean glass
Muddle with a splash or four of the Cane Sugar Syrup
Add a bit of Rhum Agricole (I use the 100 proof blanche)
Decide early how much Rhum you will use because you are “Choosing your own Death” if you make it too strong in the hot sun of the French Caribbean.
Mezan Panama and Mexican Cola
The Mezan Panama Rum is a magnificent beast.Especially with a full bodied Mexican Cola and Chocolate Bitters
2 oz. Mezan Panama 2006
6 oz. Mexican Coke – Cane Sugar
2-4 dashes Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters (a bit spicy, these are.. really!)
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.)
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.
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Warren Bobrow likens his fascination with cannabis cocktails to that of a bitters aficionado: in his eyes, adding the herb to his cocktails is just another way of experimenting with depth, balance, and flavor, not unlike the effects bitters can have on a drink. “It adds very green tasting notes and aromas, and I find that to be quite beguiling,” he says. (Of course, there’s one thing THC can do to a cocktail that even the finest bitters can’t, which is adding a certain extra psychoactive je nai sais quoi to a beverage.) Bobrow, who will release“Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics” through Quarto Publishing this summer, has spent years experimenting with various drinks, tinctures and modifiers that give a little more buzz than your average alcoholic concoction.
Whether you’re on-board with the idea of marijuana mixology, or you think the whole idea is a misguided liability straight out of the pages of a bad frat party, these methods and ideas are at least worth discussing—particularly as recreational pot legalization slowly grows throughout the U.S. So, we decided to invite Warren to do a live-streamed Shake Up to talk through his ideas and explain his approach.
First, a few obvious but necessary points we must acknowledge: if marijuana has been outlawed in your state, don’t try this at home. It’s illegal. And don’t try this at your bar, period. Warren makes it clear that his recipes are intended for non-commercial, home use only, and only in states where recreational cannabis is legal. Finally, while Warren does sing the curative praises of cannabis and its alleged healing properties, he is not a physician, so not a word of this should be construed as medical advice.
That being said, if you’re curious about the whole phenomenon, read on for the highlights and check out the full video recap below.
1. They actually do have some historical relevance
Think a pot-spiked cocktail sounds like something a bong-ripping college bro would think up? Warren begs to differ. He sites the herbs used in early apothecaries (including, yes, the herb) as a precursor to cannabis-infused elixirs, similar to the way bitters and digestifs were developed for their medicinal properties. “I wanted to unleash the power of the early apothecary,” Warren says of his book. While the exact medicinal qualities of cannabis are still up for debate, history and folk remedies do uphold cannabis’s potentially curative properties. For centuries, Warren says, it’s been used for healing purposes and relaxation purposes. “I can’t tell you that cannabis is going to cure all of your ills, but I can tell you that it certainly is going to make someone feel better.”
2. Decarbing is a crucial first step
In layman’s terms, the process of decarbing uses heat to release the specific molecules in THC that, as Warren phrases it, “give you the feeling you’re looking for.” It’s a necessary first step for any mixology-related experimentation with cannabis, assuming you’re after the psychosomatic effects and not just the flavor. Warren’s go-to method involves wrapping your product 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 include running it through a toaster oven at 240 degrees for about an hour. Either way, be sure to open your windows and expect your home to reek for a bit.
3. Infusion is best with whiskey, rum and mezcal, but the world is your oyster
Warren has infused cannabis into everything from mezcal to bitters to coconut water. His go-to method was inspired by the David Arnold rapid infusion technique of using a nitrous oxide-charged whipping siphon. Be forewarned, though, that the aesthetic effects of infusing cannabis into liquor can be less than ideal: clear spirits like gin or vodka will likely result in a muddy-looking, greenish-brown end product. (Warren cites a recent experiment with absinthe as deliciously vegetal in flavor, but not so easy on the eyes.) He recommends tinkering with dark spirits like whiskey and rum first, and has also found that “the mysterious nature of mezcal lends itself extremely well to the use of cannabis in cocktails.”
4. These aren’t meant for partying — so take it easy, tiger
Warren made it very clear that he strongly advises against partying too hard with these elixirs. Rather than slamming pot cocktails to kill two vices with one stone, he recommends taking it easy with no more than one drink per hour. He sees them more as a health tonic than a pre-game power hour fuel. “The terminology for the book is healing, not ‘obliteration’,” he says. Plus, he says, pounding a few of these just to send your brain to Jupiter sends the wrong message to people less familiar with cannabis culture. You wouldn’t want to send perception of potheads back to Reefer Madness times, would you?
5. But, if you do have too much, there’s an antidote
If you have a little too much fun with these tinctures, Warren swears by this one weird trick: chug a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade, and chew three or four black peppercorns. “I don’t know how it works,” Warren admits, “but I will tell you: it works.”
6. Different strains offer different, nuanced tasting notes and pairing possibilities — just like spirits
You wouldn’t treat a bottle of classic London Dry the same way you would a juniper-forward, botanical-driven craft gin, would you? The same could be said for individual strains of cannabis, according to Warren, who read from the section of tasting notes in his book. Pineapple Kush, he says, has notes of pineapple, mint, and burnt sugar, and makes a great addition to homemade orgeat in a classic Zombie, while Thin Mint Cookie’s sweet peppermint notes make a great additive to hot chocolate in the form of canna-butter. Overall, though, Warren recommends sticking to sativa strains for daytime use and indica strains for night.
Asheville’s own Malaprop’s Bookstore will host a reading and signing at 5:30 PM on May 6th with this well-known cocktail author. Bobrow, known as the “Cocktail Whisperer” among being a notable writer featured in Saveur and many other publications, is the author of three books:Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today (2013), Whiskey Cocktails: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks (2014) and Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails: Restorative Vintage Cocktails, Mocktails & Elixirs (2015).http://cocktailwhisperer.com
Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the forthcoming book, Cannabis Cocktails. This book which takes the tack of healing over being just another stoner book is certain to make some waves in the formerly stoic liquor world.
Warren is a published food writer as well as a mixologist. A long strange trip it’s been. He writes for the “Fabulous Beekman 1802 Boys” as their cocktail writer. (Klaus, The Soused Gnome)Warren has recently written for Whole Foods/Dark Rye, Eater.com, Distiller Magazine, Edible East End, Total Food Service, Tabletop Journal, Beverage Media Group, Leite’s Culinaria and Foodista.