South Florida Distillers cofounder Joe Durkin (right) with Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics author Warren Bobrow during the 2016 Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami.
According to New Jersey-based mixologist, author, and “cocktail whisperer” spirit expert Warren Bobrow, cannabis-infused cocktails like Durkin’s Dank & Stormy are the future of mixology, what he expects to become a growing trend as the decriminalization, legalization, and normalization of marijuana occurs nationwide. Bobrow recently met Durkin during the 2016 Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami that took place April 15 through 17, where the two discussed the potential for professional collaboration. “We were talking about cocktails with cannabis infusions and how recipes like mine — mixed with premium liquors — can be a match made in heaven,” says Bobrow. “When you mix marijuana and alcohol together, they play beautifully together.”
He should know; Bobrow’s most recent work is called Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics, a 160-page book featuring 75 cocktail recipes that use cannabis. When it hits store shelves June 1, it will be the first of its kind, according to Library of Congress records. “To be clear, I’m not promoting this from the distillers’ level but rather on the bartending level — creative bartenders interested in the homeopathic history of cannabis as a medicinal tonic, the same recipes that were being used right up until the 1940s,” says Bobrow. “I believe, with this book, I’m in the right place to help make history.” Durkin hopes to make history too — as the first Florida distiller to legally brand and sell a cannabis-infused rum. Despite the fact that he can’t promote, bottle, serve, or even make Sour Diesel Fwaygo as such, more than anything else, Durkin says his goal is to open people’s minds to a different — and equally pleasurable — cannabis experience. “From a bottle instead of a bong,” says Durkin. “It’s a great way for people who have never smoked — or don’t want to smoke — to experience all the benefits of marijuana.” While it may seem ludicrous to think the federal regulators will ever allow the two substances to be combined and sold in the same product, the idea actually isn’t that far out there. Right now you can find a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing it to be regulated and taxed like alcohol, meaning The Food and Drug Administration would have the same authority over marijuana as it does for alcohol. As the regulatory landscape surrounding cannabis changes, distilleries already skilled at making a quality, cannabis-infused product will have the upper hand, adds Durkin. “First and foremost, I’m an advocate for legalizing marijuana,” says Durkin. “I believe that — in the next 5 to 10 years — cannabis will be a federally regulated substance and — like Warren — I see an opportunity to make an innovative and delicious product, while also making history.”