New Jersey-based Warren Bobrow, known as the Cocktail Whisperer in the hospitality industry, is a mixologist, bartender, contributing writer for Forbes and author of, among other books, Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks and Buzz-Worthy Libations. On Dec. 19, Bobrow was on his first visit to Toronto to talk about what he’s most passionate about: infused cocktails and mocktails.
“Drinking is part of our culture. What I have chosen to do with my book, Cannabis Cocktails… is make infused drinks approachable—by mixing together ingredients in a way that’s cohesive and not overwhelming,” says the 57-year-old author of six books.
The book, launched in 2015, drew scathing criticism. “It was termed bad and dangerous, but things have changed now. As per my knowledge, this is the first book and the only book on the topic—on THC-infused cocktails,” Bobrow says. “I wrote this book so that people could enjoy infused cocktails without stigma. When you smoke a joint on the streets, everybody knows your business and has a preconceived notion, right or wrong, on what it is that you are doing.”
The hospitality session, organized by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) Ontario and Lifford Cannabis Solutions, tastefully coincided with the holiday season and the regulations on cannabis edibles and concentrates to be announced by Health Canada.
To help highlight cannabis’ place in the hospitality industry, Lifford in partnership with CAPS Ontario, has been hosting one such session monthly since legalization. “Whether it’s restaurants or infused beverages, we are interested to see how the edibles regulations will change with the regulations set to be announced. At Lifford, we are a wine and spirits company, we are interested in the potential of creating infused beverages,” says Lisa Campbell, CEO of Lifford Cannabis Solutions.
Apart from a talk by Bobrow, the session also had a cocktail and mocktail station. “Mocktails are the biggest trend of 2018. A lot of consumers are moving away from alcohol, and this session fits right into that dialogue,” says Campbell, explaining the demand for such a session.
Guests, on the other hand, ranged from people who had never tried infused cocktails to others who couldn’t wait to give them a shot. “In the past, I haven’t been interested in infused anything, but listening to him and how he’s been retaining terpene interaction… because in infusion, you often lose the aroma, with the decarb product, I surely want to try it, now,” says Chris Klugman, CEO and president of Paint Box Catering. “There’s has been a huge interest in the overall wine and cannabis combination,” Klugman reports.
Apart from reading some of the recipes from the book, his professional history and his family story, Bobrow also shared some tips to making good cocktails. “There are a ton of things people don’t know about cannabis and cocktails, but predominantly, that they should be decarbing their cannabis—they need to activate the THC. If you take raw cannabis and stick it inside a bottle of liquor… all you will get is a mouldy mass of gunk.”