Warren Bobrow is standing outside Café Beignet in the French Quarters of New Orléans. As we’re looking for a spot to start our interview, I ask him if showing his book off at TOTC brought him to the city. He responds that his family lineage can be traced to the city going back some 300 years. He speaks of the culture and architecture of the city, and specifically its graveyards. Then he flashes a knowing smile and says, “In New Orléans, the ghosts walk right through you.”
Bobrow is a brand ambassador, former bank executive and the author of four cocktail books. His latest is Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails and Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations (2016)
If anyone had any doubts as to whether a book on Cannabis Cocktails was going to be popular, in New Orléans your book is sold out city-wide. How did you get your start with cocktails?
I trained as a chef in the 80’s. Actually, I started in television but that didn’t work out so well. I always wanted to work in a kitchen so I got a job as a pot-scrubber. Working my way up the line as an apprentice to become a Saucier. Cocktails came easy to me after being trained in flavors.
When did you know you wanted to write cocktail books?
After corporate banking ended in 2009 there was a short window before I met Hamilton. I took classes with celebrated writers and instructors Andy Smith, at The New School, and with Alan Richman, at the International Culinary Center of New York. The writing came easy to me. There is good writing out there, however, I truly felt I could do better. I was going to write about food and wine. I didn’t look at cocktails until I talked to Ed Hamilton.
“There’s some good food writers out there that’ve never set foot in a kitchen. Wouldn’t it be great if they did.”
The only ingredient missing from my last book Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today (2013) was cannabis. Cannabis is a very dicey subject. I didn’t want to make the book a ‘get-high quick guide‘.
I also didn’t have long to write the book. Thankfully, 160 thousand words comes easy to me. It took 3 1/2 weeks to write and 3 weeks to get the 75 recipes done.
Do you foresee a time when Cannabis Cocktails will be legally on menus?
Absolutely! I’m doing a cocktail dinner September 7th in Denver, Colorado. We’ll be using THC cocktail tinctures and tonics, including non-alcoholic mocktails.
What’s been the hardest part of this journey?
I’m 55 now and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life until I was 50. At 48, I lost my banking job and I worked for two years without a pay cheque. When I left they gave me severance and I used that to reinvent myself. This has not been easy, financially.
Why should people try mixing cannabis cocktails?
It’s a pleasurable experience, a total body high.
“Anyone who says that they don’t like getting high shouldn’t smoke cigarettes, drink booze or coffee.”
Everything has its own level of pleasure, otherwise you might as well just drink light beer.
One caveat Bobrow offers is that he cannot tell people the correct doses for the different strains or the risks inherent in using cannabis tinctures. He offers up the Thai food spice principal. Start low, “you can always add more spice”. He suggests waiting an hour between drinks.
Bobrow concedes he doesn’t heed the full hour rule. “With my tolerance, it’s more like 10 minutes. In the process of trying to get the recipes correct I put myself down on the couch a few times.” There is a narcan recipe in the book, if you feel that you’ve overdosed.
Warren believes that cannabis has great healing benefits and doesn’t know why more people don’t drink cannabis elixirs. “Granted, not everything works for everybody. Drinking cannabis can be a more respectful way of dosing without others having to smell it. Cannabis use goes back thousands of years. It’s only been vilified in the States since the 1940’s, and only really vilified to keep down the black and hispanic populations. It was based on racism, not on sound medical reasoning. Cannabis, in a potable sense, has every right to exist alongside alcohol. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re drinking cannabis, just have a good time.”
We’ve seen a 6000 word negative review of the book on Amazon. How do you take the negativity?
I’m a self-made man. I’ve been on my own since I was 17. Initially the review left me quite disappointed but it’s actually driven sales. So I thank them for that.
What’s your favorite cocktail to make from the Cannabis Cocktails book?
It’s a well-made Absinthe Frappé. Good luck getting one in most places. The absinthe is usually terrible, the ice is even worse. I love to use Cuvée Edouard absinthe, and got permission to use it in the book. I infuse it with THC. I also love a Sazerac with the THC infused absinthe.
THC Mai Tai, as inspired by Cannabis Cocktails.
1.5 oz Havana Club 3 year Rum
3/4 oz Ron Matusalem 10 year rum
1/2 oz Cointreau
.75 oz fresh Lime juice
1 dash each THC infused coconut oil and Ms. Better’s Orange Tree bitters
Shaken and fine strained into a chilled glass.