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Marc Frew – Cannabis Cocktails

Marc created the Briar 75 and Myrcene Old Fashioned. He's also The Man behind Ends & Means, which is arguably Melbourne's best cocktail bar. When The Myrcene was first released, he reached out to us. We sent him some samples. He loved it. Next thing we knew we were shooting Season 1 of Cannabis Cocktails at his place! We had a chat the morning after he took the silver medal at 2019's Iron Bartender tournament, so he was understandably a little bit fragile...


How does gin make you feel?

Are we talking in general or right now?! That’ll get you two different answers! Gin, for me, is the spirit with the most room for creativity in the process. Both in making it and mixing, there’s more variety in the gin world than there is in vodka, rum and whiskey. Everything else is made to set definitions, whereas gin is a blank canvas for creativity.


How does cannabis make you feel?

Well if I had any right now I’d feel great! Cannabis for me is the miracle herb that I wonder every day about why we haven’t legalised it, regulated and taxed it here in Australia. I wonder why industries aren’t built off the back of hemp. I wonder why we have petrochem plastics, fibres and fuels when it can all be done with hemp. So, “fuck yeah cannabis” would be my response.


Do they go well together?

As we’re finding with The Canna Co, yes. One of the interesting things I’m finding is that cannabis is its own flavour, it's own botanical and it creates certain flavour profiles you’re not going to find with other botanicals and herbs. The one thing I can a day for The Canna Co is that your gin doesn’t taste like any other gin on my shelf, and that’s rare. It’s mainly the terpenes and the balanced use of the hemp inclusions that sell that for me. The closest comparison I have as a bartender to cannabis’ flavour profile is a white sage. We’re finding, and I only found this out this year when you showed me all this stuff, is that while raw cannabis and raw white sage are very similar in flavour profile, you do see a big difference in the final product in a gin, after it’s been through a still.       

 Briar 75

When you use gin in your drinks, how do you want people to feel?

This is not necessarily exclusive to gin, but I want people to smile. After they take a sip of whatever drink I give them. I use gin, and I’m a big gin guy, because it gives me an excellent way to create a flavour profile that I know that the customer standing in front of me, based  on what they tell me, I can make them happy and create interesting different flavours they hadn’t had before, and in the wheelhouse of things that they’ve told me they’re going to enjoy. I find gin leaves the most room for creativity, and as a cocktail bartender that’s probably the most important thing. You’re standing at my bar and you’ve told me a list of four ingredients that you like, and I’m looking for complex flavours to make those four things into a full realised beverage. It’s all about getting the smile on peoples’ faces when they take that first sip. 


What's your relationship with the cannabis plant?

I believe huge steps can be made for the environment, which is very important to me personally, essentially through the controlled cultivation of cannabis and primary industries that can benefit from that. Why are we using petrochem and growing cotton in Australia? The whole Murry-Darling fish deaths that are happening now, for example, when we have the perfect climate to cultivate cannabis. We have sunlight for days, huge open spaces, we’re very similar in our deserts in the centre to California and Nevada, which are perfect cannabis cultivation places, so why are we as a country and an economic power, not taking advantage of our opportunity to be more sustainable with our agriculture. We should replace cotton with hemp, and more generally we as a country should be aggressively pursuing this. The only answer I can come up with for why we’re not is our puritanical roots and conservative fear-mongering to stop what could be a miracle for human right now – we need it.  


What's your earliest recollection of marijuana, weed, cannabis? Was it present in your local environment or more of a pop culture thing?

I could tell you a fun story but I think I’ll have to stay off the record on that one!

 Marc Frew

Who would you rather serve, a drunk or a stoner?

A stoner, any day of the week. I can actually make an excellent point about this; I managed nightclubs for seven years, big ones. I was that guy dealing with crisis’s, First Aid, security etc. I have never had a First Aid call for a stoner. I have never been assaulted or seen an assault from a marijuana-effected person. I cannot say that, categorically, for any other drug, including alcohol. I’ve been punched by a lot of drunk people. Stoners are harmless. If anything, they’re quite nice to be around. Speaking from direct experience, my personal opinion is that we should legalise marijuana and then do everything we can possibly do to eliminate meth-amphetamine. I’ve had countless genuinely terrifying interactions with people affected by methamphetamine or alcohol. I can’t say that for marijuana. It’s safe. It reduces peoples’ aggression which a) in the modern world and b) in the nightlife world, we need. We need a less aggressive environment. I’d love a future, and I see it happening in my lifetime – which makes me happy – where you can go out to a bar and have a joint, drink a great cocktail, everyone’s a little bit high and nobody’s fighting anybody. I think that’s a future we can achieve.


Tell me one thing you'd like to see a change in your industry?

I’d like to see us as professionals. It’s something I don’t see very much anymore – that dedication to the craft, people that go home and practice to try and get better in-and-of-themselves, it’s not just a job. For me this is a passion and I’d love to see more young bartenders putting in the effort, putting in the work to get better, and also not just for professional reasons but because it’s a genuinely enjoyable hobby. It’s a chance to be creative and I think a lot of people forget that because we do it as a job. I’d like to see more people flexing creatively within the drinks industry.


What's your future dream?

Two days off in a row! Hahaha, honestly my dream is the same as it always has been: to create things that I can be proud of and that other people can enjoy. As long as I’m doing that I’m living my dream, so… life is good!



You can check out Marc's work at https://www.instagram.com/endsandmeansfitzroy/


The Myrcene Hemp Gin