Picture a musical about two young people in love but being together in the real world turns out to be more complicated. Clad in a pink poodle skirt and a white button-up is the craft cocktail, a positive darling of the food and drink world. In walks cannabis, the misunderstood Schedule I bad boy in a rolled-up black T-shirt, a joint behind his ear and a leather jacket tossed over his shoulder.
Will these two ever share a glass? Will society let them?
The truth is, these two main characters are great together, no matter what federal law says. Just ask famed master mixologist and cannabis writer, Warren Bobrow, who wrote the insanely comprehensive Cannabis Cocktails Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations.
The book opens with some background on our Mr. Misunderstood, who was once a healing herb just like any other. But the cannabis plant has been held back by a few sadistic school principals—namely the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act and the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. Today, cannabis is still trying to shed the stigma created by politicians since Prohibition, with some state-by-state success since the 1970s. California is one of those states that has legalized cannabis for adult use—and it’s the most populous state in the country.
This bodes well for Bobrow, who, when he isn’t writing, runs California-based Klaus Cannabis-Infused Beverages. The company sells ready-to-drink THC-infused, terpene-forward canned mocktails (state regulations don’t yet allow edible cannabis products as alcoholic beverages). The emulsifying technology he uses for these drinks, from a company called Vertosa, is only in California right now, and Klaus is only licensed for sale in the state.
But before the Nanogen technology Vertosa uses even existed, Bobrow’s cannabis cocktail book introduced 75 delicious recipes—many of which allow our star-crossed lovers, the craft cocktail and cannabis, to be together at last. Take the Mezzrole Cocktail, for example, a Manhattan-style drink made with cannabis-infused sweet vermouth.
The book teaches readers how to decarb cannabis at home to safely make pantry items, including tinctures, syrups and shrubs. Decarboxylation was a very new concept to most at the time the book was published (2016), and though Bobrow didn’t invent it, he’s known for perfecting the process.
Bobrow still sees cannabis—good old THC—as an herb, with the ability to heal and make you feel good. He doesn’t bother with CBD, which he likens to “snake oil.” “It’s sold in gas stations,” he says, remaining skeptical that it does anything good or bad. “There’s no feeling in it.”
The slogan for his business is “Klaus cares,” Bobrow says, because “he really does care; he cares about what you put in your body.” (Oh, did I forget to mention the eight-inch-tall face of the company, Klaus the Soused Gnome?) That’s why Klaus makes drinks that are only 16 calories, and six-tenths of a gram of sugar. Someone who cares this much has taken the time to get to know what cannabis has to offer and is keeping that summer romance with craft cocktails alive.
The Mezzrole Cocktail
I’m a huge fan of Manhattan-style cocktails; they make great aperitifs. This drink is named after Milton “Mezz” Mezzrow, a jazz musician who lived in New York City’s Harlem in the 1920s. And, as Mezz himself would’ve 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.
- 4-6 greenish cocktail cherries
- 1/2oz (15ml) cannabis-infused vermouth
- Handful of crushed ice
- 1oz (15ml) 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.
This story was originally published in the print edition of Cannabis Now.