A seat at the bar with the Cocktail Whisperer


1.Q: Tell us a bit more about your career highlights and why you’re known as the cocktail whisperer?

A: Originally in life I had intended to work in the motion picture industry- I interned in NYC doing TV commercials and it evolved into a full time job working as a television engineer. But it was not meaningful work for me so I set out onto another path. Soon after graduating from Emerson with a degree in film and a year spent at MIT at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, I had to grow up and find a real job. So I moved up to Maine and washed dishes in a local bed and breakfast inn, located in York Harbor, Maine.

I then founded the first manufacturing company of fresh pasta in South Carolina in the late 1980’s. I was in Charleston to attend the culinary school named Johnson/Wales which was located there at the time. My company was an instant success, yet a natural disaster named Hurricane Hugo soon followed in 1989 and I lost everything. I was forced, yet again to ’sing for my supper’ and find a real job. I owed my father and grandfather a large sum of money and it took twenty years of working in banking to pay them off.

Nights and weekends I worked in gourmet shops and wine stores. Working towards my passion of being in the restaurant biz again. I developed my palate and started writing in 2009. I never looked back. The cocktail Whisperer evolved from a website named Served Raw. I’m not sure how they found me, but they did. At the close of their business, they gifted me the website, which I own to this day. Cocktailwhisperer.com. My publisher, Quarto (Fair Winds Press) found me from my website. A star was born!

2. Q: Can you tell us about your specialization in cannabis infused cocktails?

A: My roots are more organic in nature. I grew up on a biodynamic/Organic farm in New Jersey in the 1960’s. Fast forward to about 2014. I’m down in New Orleans for the yearly liquor event known affectionately as “Tales” (Tales of the Cocktail). I was doing a book signing for my third book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails- at the Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter. At the same time, the museum was having a special exhibition. It was named Cannabis in the Early Apothecary. At that very moment I realized I wanted to write about Cannabis cocktails. Not everyone “Gets it” and this is the first book on the topic and still is the only one in print that instructs the proper way to infuse THC into craft spirits and mixers.

The recipes are tongue in cheek healers- like Apothecary Cocktails viewed healing as Fernet Branca and Cola when your stomach is raw. Or a Brandy Milk Punch- infused with THC, as in Cannabis Cocktails. I wanted to show simplicity and verve in my drinks.

3. Q: How have your cocktails evolved over the years?

A: As a master mixologist, I’ve attempted to let my culinary background guide me into techniques like roasting fruit, or coconut water ice. I love infusing THC into condensed milk and dripping scant dollops of the magical elixirs into my morning espresso.

4. Q: What is the most exciting trend happening in mixology right now?

A: I think fresh ingredients, prepared with love will always be in demand by those who value the highest quality in ingredients and simplicity. I was recently in Portland, Oregon. They were keeping it simple. But in the present day- I see (hopefully) less sweet and more tangy. Refreshing and memorable I like to say. Bitters play a major role.

5. Q: What is the absolute can’t-miss cocktail you’re loving right now?

A: I’ve always bemused by the classic drink known as the 1934 Zombie. Now imagine this little ‘ mind eraser’ with THC infused into the classic almond-scented Orgeat Syrup. Ok, you can make this drink without rum, just a virgin 1934 Zombie, but one that will straighten your curly hair faster than a leopard runs the quarter mile. And if you want to add rum, may I suggest one like Foursquare. I’m completely against rum that has been caramel colored to approximate age and the sweetness of the spirit manipulated by the addition of sugar. I like my rum to speak of the plant, not their marketing agency far away from the distillery.

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