Morristown, NJ is a nice mid-sized town located about an hour drive west/northwest of New York City. I’m born and raised here, which offers the opportunity to share some of my hidden places to get high.
The list is a long one, as I’m not just born. I graduated from prep school, Morristown-Beard in 1980. You can do the math on that one. I’ll be covering a couple at a time. So, you can enjoy the visuals of my walking tour.
Cannabis has only just become quasilegal in Morristown, NJ. I’m still pretty careful about smoking weed in the street. This isn’t New York City where all you smell these days is the stickysweet taint of weed burning. Not that I don’t like it, far from that- smoking cannabis in Morristown, NJ is probably still not such a great idea.
No matter what the voters have said in New Jersey regarding cannabis legality. The long-standing stigmas against smoking cannabis in public still rules the roost here.
But all is not doom and gloom. I’m sharing with you my hidden “underbelly” of where I like to smoke weed where I probably won’t get arrested, nor frowned upon by strangers. I own a gnome. His name is Klaus. Klaus is my mid 19th-century drinking gnome. He used to follow me around the globe when I was a master-mixologist and rum judge in the on and off premise beverage trade. Klaus traveled with me everywhere and he became quite famous for his rum fueled antics, but all that came to a crashing halt during Tales of the Cocktail in 2018. The halt was my leaving the liquor industry, forever when I quit drinking distilled spirits.
It was at Tales that Klaus suggested that I enter the cannabis industry, both as a journalist and as an author of the book, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics. This suggestion probably saved my life because I’ve dropped nearly sixty pounds since leaving the liquor industry. Sure, he’s a drinking gnome, however Klaus enjoys the weed business much more. Travel is in his little terracotta heart and he loves getting stoned with me.
Klaus is starting this local journey today with a little bit of foot travel around two favored places in Morristown, NJ. This is the place where George Washington rested for a very cold winter during the Revolutionary War.
The first place that I got high over the years, where it was so risky to get stoned there, getting arrested was a probability. The Green in Morristown. The fountain, pictured is a good place to start any respectable journey into getting High in Morristown, NJ. I paused for a one-hitter (Green BodhiTenzin Kush) and remembered that just around the corner on the Green stood the pre-Colonial courthouse, long gone, and the Hanging Tree, also long gone.
The energy in this place is pronounced as this was quite the historic town during the Revolution. I’m sure many unsavory characters throughout history met their end at the bottom of a rope in this spot. You can feel it in your bones if you pause long enough.
On the back side of the Green is the First Presbyterian Church and just behind this grand stone edifice is the historic Churchyard and their preColonial cemetery. Back when I was a teenager, this wasn’t a place where you wanted to walk around in at night. It still may have that stigma with vestiges of a recent homeless camp off set just off into the poison ivy laced underbrush.
But during the day it’s a pretty place with headstones dating back to the early part of the 1700’s. I like to pay homage to the long-departed by smoking cannabis in this cemetery. It’s a serene place to get lit up and reflect on the residents who once graced the town. Their names are often intriguing in the study of history. I’m convinced that very few Morristown residents even know that this place exists… Much less come here to get stoned. It’s part of the journey in this town. To find places that are just off the beaten path, excellent for catching a fire.
Warren Bobrow is one of the premier cannabis mixologists in the country.
His eventful career in the cannabis industry has led him to travel across the United States. Yet he was born and raised in Morristown, New Jersey and has lived there most of his life.
However, at one-point Bobrow moved to Portland Maine where he worked in restaurants where he became a chef and a good bartender. While a bartender, he became a great mixologist, specializing in creating unique alcoholic drinks.
After becoming well-known as a mixologist, he wrote a book called “Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails”. He went to the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum to promote the book and was amazed to learn about the medical role of cannabis in an earlier age.
“I had a dream in New Orleans, and I saw it. It was so profound,” Bobrow said. This prompted him to begin looking into creating cannabis cocktails and mocktails. He already been a fan of it for quite some time.
“Weed is exceptional. It makes you feel better about grim circumstances surrounding you,” Bobrow said. “The only thing that kept me sane when working for a private bank was smoking cannabis.”
MORRISTOWN – A Morris County author just released his fourth cocktail book, but this time he’s substituted the bitters for something a little different.
Morristown “Cocktail Whisperer” Warren Bobrow’s “Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations” debuted earlier this month, and is a guide to adding marijuana to mixed drinks.
Bobrow, 55, said he was partially inspired to create the book by a family background in the pharmaceutical industry.
“My grandfather made a well-known brand of ‘snake oil’ that was in every medicine chest in America,” Bobrow said. “It did nothing, but it made him a wealthy man.”
Bobrow said that history also inspired his first book “Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today.”
Bobrow, who grew up in Morris Township and went to Morristown-Beard, said he was raised with an emphasis on natural healing. Which is why he enjoys creating cocktails he says have natural healing methods, something he said marijuana can add to a drink.
“Cannabis is vilified but can be used as healing,” Bobrow said. “Cannabis may well be the only ingredient that actually did anything (years ago).”
Bobrow said he always planned to write a marijuana-themed cocktail book, as it mixes two things he knows well. A chef with a background in wine and history with marijuana, Bobrow said he has a palate for flavor that makes him the right person to pen this book.
“I’ve used pot since I was 13 years old. And I don’t like to drink traditionally, though I work with liquor,” Bobrow said. “Cannabis for me is easier to control. It treats me nicely, plays very nicely. And it also plays well with alcohol.”
Bobrow wrote “Cannabis Cocktails” in about three weeks, taking another month to develop the 75 different cocktail recipes.
While the book may create some controversy for its subject matter, Bobrow said edibles like “pot brownies and candies” are much more dangerous than adult cocktails, as they appeal to a younger audience.
“Adult cocktails are serious. It sends a different message,” Bobrow said. “This is not a book for someone looking to get high quick.”
Bobrow stressed that all of his research and experimenting for the book was done in U.S. locations where marijuana use was permitted.
“I didn’t do any of this in New Jersey. I do not have a cannabis card, so I don’t touch anything in New Jersey. I wouldn’t dare,” Bobrow said. “New Jersey is slow to the party, things haven’t changed a lot since the 1700s. As far as cannabis is concerned this is a very conservative area and that’s not changing.”
For anyone planning to utilize the book in New Jersey, Bobrow stressed to get a medicinal marijuana card and go through the proper channels.
“This is a very specific book. In New Jersey to use it legally you have to be part of the medical cannabis community,” he said. “I know it’s illegal (in New Jersey) and (readers) know it’s illegal. But of course I can’t control what people do with it.”
Still, he hopes readers take his work seriously.
“I didn’t make the book to be a stoner book,” Bobrow said. “These are legitimate cocktails that happen to have cannabis as an ingredient. I stress in the book not to take more than one (drink) per hour.”
Two recipes he singled out from his collection were the Thai-Spiced Ginger Beer, made with an ounce of medicated simple honey syrup, and the Mezzrole Cocktail, a bourbon drink that uses half an ounce of cannabis-infused vermouth.
The recipes are all his own, and while the cocktails work with all variations of marijuana, specific strains are recommended for each. For the Thai-Spiced Ginger beer, he selected the strain “Tangle,” while he believes the Mezzrole works best with a “Sativa-Indica” hybrid.
Bobrow said the book was thoroughly vetted by the legal team of his publisher, Fair Winds Press, before launching June 1.
“A book like this hasn’t been published before,” Bobrow said, adding it’s already been translated to French and Dutch. “I know it’s going to do well, it’s just a matter of how and where.”
Bobrow said he is working on a fifth cocktail book, which he said will be a compendium of his previous works.
Go to https://cocktailwhisperer.com/ to learn more about Bobrow, “Cannabis Cocktails,” and his other books, which are available for purchase online through major booksellers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
With the release last week on Amazon of my third book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails, I must pause for a moment to reflect upon the past few years… Ok, now that I’ve finished reflection- it’s time to get back to work.
I was introduced a couple days ago to Eventbrite, which is, if you don’t know already – the global leader in event planning and implementation. They’re a cool place to find local events, or organize events, and sell tickets to your events!
I’m participating in their new project that is called – quite simply- Hometown Hunt.
I’ll be sharing my favorite local spots on Cocktailwhisperer.com , my own website that has unlocked many doors since I built it.
It’s a pretty simple site, not a whole lot of bells and whistles here! So hopefully you can follow along with me and let me know what you think.
One of the things that I don’t often do is “blog”… Years ago, I took a course in food blogging at the former French Culinary Institute and it didn’t go well- primarily because I don’t consider myself a blogger! I think columnist fits the bill better- yet I digress, blogging is big business for spirits companies!
How do you monetize it though?
Why you should go to the Jockey Hollow Restaurant.
I haven’t been to eat, but I do know that their cocktail program is world-class with Christopher James at the helm. Chris is my mentor and friend- full disclosure, I bar-backed for him at the Ryland Inn (scary) and learned that being a bartender is not always a glamorous job! It’s darned hard work!
Chris is fond of many advanced techniques within the confines of the bar. In many ways, what he has achieved is part of a brilliant career. Hat’s off to him! And the Jockey Hollow Restaurant? As I said, I haven’t dined there yet- maybe someday…
Here is a short list of places that get it with respect to cocktails in Morristown, NJ.
David Todd’s.. from the moment you hear the familiar music and New York Cool- without the NYC attitude- and dig deeply into their Wine Spectator Award of Excellence cellar or what I came for- the well-crafted cocktails- made with the best possible ingredients- well… you know you have arrived. There is no pretension here- even though that gal or guy sitting next to you has their own private jet, fueled and ready at Morristown Airport. So try to dress to impress, because you never know!
The hand-crafted drinks, some deceptively strong will make that first impression correct. This is one of the most beguiling of all the Morristown places that gets it with great drinks. And the food? It plays in conjunction with the cocktails and most certainly the well-chosen wine list.
Just go! Have a Negroni, sit outside and watch the world go by.
By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererI love the drink named the Negroni. It’s bright, refreshing and quenches the thirst, unlike many cocktails. It never leaves me feeling drab, nor does it take away my appetite like some other cocktails do when sipped before a meal.In my upcoming book, Apothecary Cocktails, Restoratives from Yesterday and Today, I discuss the correlation of the digestive tract and healing, by using liquors mixed with fresh herbs. If only the pharmacists from years back had known about the Negroni as a healing curative! Well, in a way they did.
The Negroni was invented back in 1919 in Florence, Italy – purposively built to heal what ails you. Orson Wells famously said in 1947 that, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” I don’t know about you, but I think gin is good for you. Perhaps Mr. Wells had it altogether incorrect. The entire drink is good for you. Gin, after all, was used during the Middle Ages as a curative for the Black Plague. And Vermouth has long been held as a curative for many internal battles surrounding the digestive glands.
The history of the Negroni involves a base spirit, like gin, plus bitters and vermouth. I enjoy my Negroni Cocktail with the powerfully intoxicating Caorunn Gin from Scotland. Distilled with a healthy smack of the juniper berry and woven into a backdrop of citrus with a hefty punch of alcohol, the Caorunn Gin just tempts me to have another. Combined with the syrupy and complex Carpano Antica Vermouth and the historically correct Campari Bitters from Italy, the Negroni speaks very clearly of getting buzzed with the minimum of effort. I just sipped my Negroni down and absolutely feel no pain. And why would I, with the application of my finger to stir this magnificent cocktail?
My friend Gary Regan stirs his with his finger so why shouldn’t I?
Well the reasons are numerous why you should not stir your cocktail with your finger. Cleanliness has something to do with this. But I suppose if you dipped your finger in your tri-sink filled with disinfectants and cleansers, you’d really have nothing to worry about as long as you were in your own home. I always use a cocktail spoon when working behind the bar so not to upset my customers! The drink shown was mixed with my own finger… far away from any paying customers!
The best Negroni is also the simplest one to make. I do only a couple of things differently:
1. Wash glass out inside and out with cool water.
2. Dry carefully with a soft towel.
3. Pack with ice and water.
4. Carefully measure out your ingredients, pour out the bar ice and water.
I also use a couple large hand-cut cubes of ice from a silicone tray in the freezer so I can control the quality of my ice.
3. Add your choice of Gin. In this case I used Caorunn Gin from Scotland. Caorunn is liberally flecked with citrus fruit woven around the haunting elegance of the moors at night.
4. Add The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters.
5. Add ice.
6. Stir all ingredients together…
(And no, you don’t have to use your finger!!!)
Grand Cafe… transport yourself into this very European restaurant, owned by Desmond and Alice Lloyd. This is a boite of the highest provenance. Don’t come in jeans or shorts, make sure your shirt is pressed and tie your shoes, yes… it matters… Then, please comb your hair and while you’re at it, clean your glasses . This is not a bar, sure they have a small one for a pre-dinner slurp-made very carefully I might add… The Grand Cafe in Morristown serves, quite possibly the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever enjoyed in a bar (or restaurant for that matter…)
(It’s rolled, never shaken) and their brilliant Irish Coffee is every bit Ireland as anything in the world.
The BEST is found here at the Grand Cafe.
Jockey Hollow… again. Chris James at the helm. Need I say more? Just go and pour yourself into a seat at the bar.
SM23… For a slice of NYC with all the thumping but not the bumping, try this very sophisticated boite located within the Headquarters Plaza building. Classic cocktails, made with the best ingredients possible are the framework for SM23. Just go- and bring an appetite for some of the best Indian and Asian food around, save room for dessert!!!
End of Elm… I’ve had good cocktails here. While not a Craft Cocktail lounge, the emphasis is on their food at EOE… They do mix some fine drinks without much fluff. I like it and if you find their prices too rich for your pocket, you can always get a submarine sandwich at Long John’s next door for your lunch with some for the next day!
Dive Bars and just some really lousy bars. Morristown is full of them. They say that Morristown is the Hoboken of the western part of the state. I say the Morristown-Town Fathers got what they deserved with the quality of bars that exist by the historic Green. And don’t even get me started on the interior architecture of these places.. Isn’t Morristown a Colonial town?
With a major focus of my career for drinking fewer drinks and drinking better when you do drink… well, it is an embarrassment, at least for myself as someone who takes great pride in the cocktail movement, to even try to have a conversation about why a margarita should not have both cheap triple sec and bottled sour mix. Morristown dive bars and some of the ones that surround the Green, like many other places around the country serve no better than the worst drink you’ve ever had- made to appear to be the best drink that you’ve ever had- but as I like to say, the ice gives it all away.
Find me a place with good iceand I’ll tell everyone. If you use bar ice? Well for me at least, it’s all bad things. And if you are making your Margarita cocktails with triple sec and bottled sour mix- well, it should be a crime.
These places don’t try to make anything that even closely resembles a craft cocktail- and thus they do not get it. But they do serve the multitudes of people who flood to Morristown to get as smashed as possible. It’s a fact of life- like or not.
awful… beer and shots made with cheap ingredients. Play hopscotch outside at night, or on a weekend with what is sometimes left on the sidewalk by over-indulgence’s.
It’s a very young set here. No soft jazz or Sinatra on the stereo, so don’t ask. A good place to stay well clear of in my opinion.
Last National Rum Day I went into the Grasshopper and I asked them which cocktail they were making to celebrate this National Holiday… They replied Malibu and Coke. That’s just wrong. And it was served with a slice of lime that dated to the Truman Administration. Next…
Even the Guinness is too cold.
Shall I go on?
The Iron Bar… It’s cheap and tawdry. From the low quality, bottled sour mix they use to fill out most every mixed drink, to the base spirits made in chemical factories, if you like your flavored vodka in candy varieties like whipped cream and chocolate pudding, you’ll love it here. And their Bloody Mary is shaken. FAIL….
Definitely a younger crowd.
The Office- located next door tries really hard. I do love their beer list, but their cocktail list needs much refinement and balance to be included on the list of who gets it in Morristown…. the answer is- very few. Urban Table tries hard too… Without much luck.
Roots is not a place for a Craft Cocktail. A Rob Roy might work in a pinch or a decent Manhattan, but these prices?
This is not New York, so please, use better Vermouth in that well north of fifteen dollar drink. Again.. Just my opinion.
One of the great liquor and wine stores in Morristown is Cambridge Wines on Morris Street. They have one of the best selections of whiskey around. AND they have sold copies of my books! A win/win!
The Grapeful Palate, located up on South Street has a very carefully curated selection of wines, beers and spirits. I love their attention to the customer and the calming effects of the Grateful Dead on the stereo system, making this a perfect destination for all your desires in the liquor world.
I first learned about branch water, or branch as it was called, from my governess, Estelle Ellis. She and her husband were from Georgia. She’s gone now, but my memories of her are quite vivid. She taught me how to cook, not by telling me but by showing. She was very kind to me and I still honor her memory by retelling her culinary stories that I learned in the kitchen of my grandparents’ “big house,” where I spent much time as a child.
She held the tenets of the older and slower ways near and dear to her, evidenced by the smile that came through in the way she spoke about ingredients, the ancient cast iron pans she used in cooking, and especially the way she took a cool glass of locally gathered branch for good health. She believed that branch was life-giving. Everything in her kitchen had a meaning, especially when it came to the flavors and aromas of times gone by. Branch was a part of my childhood as much as her peach pies made with fresh peaches from my grandparents’ orchard.
There was a patient cadence to the way Estelle spoke- the words that she chose and the descriptions of the way things ought to taste have resonated in my mind since I was a boy. In a few words there were meanings for everything in life. She used to tell me that it was time to “put-up” fruits for the long winter months in NJ. The apples were made into applesauce, and some made their way into the winter as Apple Jack. The peaches that didn’t make it into a lard-crusted pie were soaked in strong southern whiskey for a late night nip after the day’s chores were finished. This woman took care of my family in a way that is lost to time. She taught me lessons by using ingredients so fresh that the dew hadn’t even begun to be absorbed by the flesh of the fruit.
She would add a bit of this locally gathered water to a drink- correcting it. Adding a bit of branch to a glass of Bourbon, as I learned in later years, connects that specific drink in your hand to the past.
What is branch and where does it come from?
Branch- by nature of its provenance is sweet water. Perhaps the definition is the nature of the Branch itself. We all idolize the purity of a hidden spring that only exists in our dreams. Branch is the liquid sweetness that flows unhindered from the ground.
Branch can sometimes be seen oozing up and evaporating immediately when it hits the air or it can make a cheerful bubbling sound as it bursts forth. Sometimes the branch erupts from the earth as a gurgle, almost like a belly laugh.
Branch can also be as kind and gentle as a bedtime story.
To truly enjoy branch you must capture it in the place where it comes up from the earth.
The spring up near our home is located in a spirit-filled place formerly inhabited by George Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War. Estelle told me about this spring, it was where she gathered her Branch. To get to the spring you must walk down the ancient camp roads- it’s over there a bit, by the base of that long gone oak tree. You can tell there was a giant tree at one time by the number of smaller trees emanating out into the forest. Its progeny has spread throughout the woods and their roots still feed a sweet vanilla flavor into the earth.
The water bubbles up to ground level meeting the air in a hushed flurry of activity, for this well is an artesian well.
The branch that flows from this spot tastes as sweet as cotton candy on the first day of the state fair!
How would it taste with a tin bucket of the White Dog? A splash or two of branch in a pail of freshly drawn white whisky is illuminating to say the least. The sweetness it emits meets the fire from the freshly drawn whiskey and makes a carousel dance around on your tongue. Purists may scoff at cutting whiskey with water- but it’s the way I like to drink it. And you don’t use very much.
A Branch Water Cocktail
Take some of that really old Bourbon that you’ve been saving for a special occasion down from the top shelf. Carefully open the bottle and pour it into your grandfather’s favorite glass that you keep away from curious hands. Visit the hidden spring with your bottle and glass in hand and gently scoop a bit of the cool branch into your hand just as it emanates from the ground. Moisten your fingers in this water, feel the minerals in it – rough against your hand. Taste some of the sweet water in its cool, pure state, precious like fine jewels. Now, please scatter just enough of the branch that fits between your thumb and forefinger over your glass of Bourbon.
Contemplate your ancient cocktail, sipping with reverence and passion. Take another sip and roll it around on your tongue. Swallow it slowly, taking in lots of air while you taste it. This is important because certain environmental influences are as important as the flavor of the branch mixing with your Bourbon. If it’s a day in the fall and you’re alone in the forest, crunching your feet through the leaves, you can almost taste this aroma in the air. Aroma absolutely changes the way you perceive flavor through memory so take an aromatic note of the place while you sip cocktail and remember.
Gently slurp this precious brown liquid through your lips and smile.
And after you finish drinking, think of Estelle with her glass of branch and a slice of warm peach pie at the ready.