Book Review: Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics

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In Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics: The Art of Spirited Drinks & Buzz-Worthy Libations, author, Warren Bobrow presents a “crash course in apothecary medicine,” teaching the reader how to create medicinal and recreational cannabis-infused drinks (some alcoholic and some not) from scratch, with over 75 of the most intriguing drink recipes I’ve ever seen. As a former bartender and lover of classics like Trader Vics 1947 Bartender’s Guide, Jack’s Manual, and even The Joy of Cooking, my bar was set pretty high for this book.

And when it arrived in the mail, I was so pleasantly surprised. To start with, it’s much more than just a collection of recipes. In fact, my favorite part of the book was the section on how to make your own tinctures—which was something I did not expect, and it really speaks to the care and attention that went into writing this book. Bobrow is not only the real-deal mixologist, he’s also a great researcher and writer, who has written a book that’s a joy read, with recipes that beg to be tried.

The book starts with an introduction to mixology and cannabis-use as a medicine, then moves into “Part I: The Basics,” beginning with “Chapter 1: The History of Medical Liquids and Tonics.” This includes a brief history of cannabis throughout the ages, getting the reader up to speed on where we are legally, as well as some of the science and research showing the benefits of cannabis when used with proper care attention. Themes like moderation, and conscious, responsible use are prevalent throughout the book.

“Chapter 2: Cannabis Connoisseurship” is all about refining your cannabis palate, and understanding the subtle flavor and psychotropic differences between the many strains. For those new to cannabis (or new to cannabis connoisseurship) this chapter is a must-read. And for those who already know the difference between THC and CBD, or why sativas are a better daytime weed than indicas, some of this information might be repeat. Still, you’ll want to consult the chart on pages 25–27, which provides—among other things—lists of drinks that various strains mix best with. This is a resource you won’t find anywhere else!

In “Chapter 3: Your Cannabis Pantry: Tonics, Shrubs, Tinctures, and Much More,” you’ll learn two basic methods of “decarbing” your cannabis, which not only brings out the plant’s flavor, but activates the THC, allowing you to feel its psychotropic effects. Then Bobrow teaches you how to make cannabis infusions and tinctures for use in the book’s 75 original recipes. With detailed, step-by-step instructions and tasteful photos that take you deep into the process working from scratch, this was by far my favorite section of the book.

Cannabis-Cocktails-Inside-Look“Part II, Cannabis Drinks” is the book’s main recipe section, containing 65 of Bobrow’s original, scintillating concoctions, such as Dramatis Personae, which uses rye whisky, cannabis-infused absinthe, and marijuana smoke to flavor the mixing glass, and Your Mind and Your Inner Dreams, made from cannabis-infused barrel bourbon whisky, raw honey, and lapsang souchang tea, among other things.

One of my favorite recipes is Thai Spiced Ginger Beer, from “Chapter 5, Revitalizing Cannabis-Infused Cocktails and Mocktails.” It’s made with ginger beer, Jamaican jerk bitters, lemon, and medicated simple syrup, to name just a few ingredients. In this section, you realize what a master mixologist Bobrow really is. His recipes are works of art, born from years of experience and passionate study.

Warren Bobrow is not only a great mixologist and expert on cannabis infusions and tinctures, he’s an outstanding writer, with a knack for presenting the information in a clear, succinct, and yet personable manner. He’s written hundreds of articles for publications like Chilled Magazine, Saveur, and Foodista, to name a few, and he’s the author of multiple books, including Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks From Yesterday and Today, and Whiskey Cocktails: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks Using the World’s Most Popular Spirit.

Whether you’re a budding cannabis connoisseur, a budtender, a bartender, or just a lover of great recipe books, I can’t recommend Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails & Tonics highly enough. You’ll want to share it’s pages with your friends just as much as its recipes!

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Everyone’s got a story. Mine is that all my life, I’ve managed to attract and surround myself with the most fascinating, unreal individuals, who challenge my sense of what’s possible and what life is all about. Cannabis does that too. This industry is made up of brave, fiery souls who dare to venture beyond the norm. Our subculture spans all demographics and defies generalization. And I get to write about it! Being able to tell the stories of the people I meet, and how we’re all connected through this amazing plant is a dream come true.

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