I sponsored Warren Bobrow to come to Rochester’s 2019 Cocktail Revival and teach about CBD and THC cocktail making. The experience was amazing. Not only down to earth, Warren was also extremely knowledgeable about the whole topic. He shared some historical information and personal experiences that brought him to write his book Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations. He also shared how polarizing the book was and the negative reaction of so many people in his camp. The experience has been life changing on many levels and a journey he shares with passion, his heart on his sleeve, and a mission to educate others.
Warren shared how he had personal experience with medical marijuana for a chronic medical condition. His life had changed and he looked for a way to bring consumption of marijuana into his daily life. However, he found that cannabis had a stigma that accompanied its use, even when used for medical purposes. There needed to be another way to get a dose of cannabis other than smoking or eating pot brownies. He was culinary trained and food and beverage was an important part of his essence, and enjoyment in daily life. One of his goals in writing this book was to provide a way for people to responsibly consume cannabis in public without everyone one around knowing and judging. He wanted to provide a way for people to enjoy a delicious drink in a social environment and incorporate cannabis into the drink. Maybe medical reasons, maybe just for relaxation, but either way, in a way that the whole world did not need to know you were enjoying cannabis. He said he wrote the book as a medical reference, not merely because of the trend of cannabis. As long as cannabis was slowly becoming legal across the country, he wanted to provide a way to responsibly include cannabis in cocktails. He experimented to get correct dosages and ratios so each recipe provided a delicious drink and had a responsible and therapeutically effective amount of cannabis.
Warren also stressed the legal challenges cannabis presents and was careful to not expose alcoholic licensed operators to any legal issues by demonstrating THC cocktails. As much as we all wanted to try some and make some cocktails with THC, he would not expose the venues to the risk. (Predictably, as an attorney, I respect that. I am trying to figure out how to do a “part 2” in Ontario, Canada where recreational cannabis is legal and I don’t believe there is a restriction on combining alcohol and cannabis. Email me at TJong@[email protected] if you want to be invited to a future event.)
So as an amateur mixologist, I had a key takeaway. CBD can be used like bitters (and in addition to bitters). It can be added as a simple drizzle on top of a cocktail in the same way as an aromatic oil like mint, basil or lemon. It can replace a traditional garnish. The simplest use is a flavored CBD oil or tincture that has a flavor profile traditionally associated with the cocktail. If the cocktail traditionally calls for lime, use a lime-flavored CBD. Drizzle on top just before drinking. A more “professional” approach might be to infuse hemp into either simple syrups or other drink mixers used to make the drink. (He showed a device that could do this an explained how it worked and how the temperatures of the device optimized the flavor and efficacy of the oils and other parts of the botanicals.) His book goes into detail on some of these techniques.
What really impressed me was how honest Warren was about what he knew and didn’t know about CBD. He separated the hype from the science. His focus in the recipe development was mostly on the THC aspects and the proper dosages and ratios. CBD was present and synergistically part of the equation but alone it was not as clear. He said the science just isn’t there on CBD. Not enough is known and there is no uniform measurement at this time, making it impossible to do serious recipe development for CBD alone. Each hemp or cannabis variety had different strengths. Each product manufacturer uses different techniques and could produce products of widely variable strengths. At the end of the day, he could tell us how to incorporate CBD in a cocktail from a taste perspective. He could tell us it would have some effect on us if we consumed the drink, but could not pinpoint accurately what that effect would be. It was almost certainly beneficial, but it was different for every person. His message was to experiment and see what worked for you personally, at least until there was more reliable data on CBD.
I encourage you to buy his book and try some of the recipes. If you create some of your own recipes, please post them and share with others.