Johnnie Walker Teaches New Times How to Make Bitters

Categories: Booze Hound
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Johnnie Walker
Growing up in a Nicaraguan household, I was introduced to hard liquor by my dad's bottle of Johnnie Walker Red. Nicas love hanging out with Johnnie. He's a smooth cat who's been the master of concocting aromatic amber spirits since the 1800s. At the tender age of 13, I became a full-fledged Scotch whisky man thanks to Johnnie.

So when I was invited to celebrate the launch of Johnnie Walker Double Black at the House of Walker in Little Haiti, I was like, "Well, don't mind if I do!"

The evening of April 18, I joined dozens of Scotch whisky lovers who tasted the complex yet masterfully crafted Double Black blend. I was also among a chosen few who got to learn how to make bitters, the aromatic and spicy herbal alcoholic beverage that adds a nice kick to any glass of Scotch.

It all went down inside an eclectic warehouse located at 360 NE 62nd St. The space has been converted into an urban tropical oasis consisting of individual white wood-framed cottages lined with white-painted wood decks and sandy patches.

I began the night by ordering a Red Label Scot Free from Rocky Yeh, a popular Seattle bartender whom Johnny Walker flew in for the fete. He mixed 1 ¼ ounces of Red Label Scotch, 1 ¼ maraschino liqueur, a dash of Angostura bitters, and a dash of orange bitters, and topped it all off with a flamed orange twist. When it touched my lips, I thought, This is what oranges in Heaven must taste like.

Cocktail in hand, I made my way to a room inside the main cottage, where I joined a dozen other drinkers for the bitters class. Johnnie Walker master of whisky Gerry Graham introduced us to our instructor, Tobin Ludwig, a bald, mustached Brooklynite who cofounded Hella Bitter, a small-batch cocktail bitters company based in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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Johnnie Walker
Tobin Ludwig, Hella Bitter cofounde.r
"Bitters takes generally three weeks to one month to macerate," Ludwig explained. "After you all have made your jars of bitters, I'll take it with me to New York. I'll babysit it. I'll cradle it in my arms every day, and in a number of weeks you guys are going to get some beautiful little bottles of the bitters you made today."

Yeah, buddy!

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House of Walker

1400 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Category: General

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