11 Beautiful Cocktails from Johnnie Walker’s New Flavors of America Campaign

Drink Lists Johnnie Walker
11 Beautiful Cocktails from Johnnie Walker’s New Flavors of America Campaign

The arc of United States history is one shaped by the many people who arrived here seeking a new life and new opportunities. With each generation, a new wave of people adds their ingredients to the melting pot of American culture. Johnnie Walker’s Flavors of America mixology program celebrates that diversity and the many flavors of American culture by recognizing bartenders from around the country whose cocktails have become a reflection of their unique American experience and rich backgrounds.

“The many different cultures and backgrounds found in the U.S have absolutely impacted the flavors used in craft cocktails,” says Gabor Orta, co-founder of Bar Lab and national ambassador for Flavors of America. “Each of these cultures bring unique ingredients and flavor profiles that may not have been found in the U.S. previously. Bartenders and chefs from all over the world travel here to pursue their passions, never forgetting where they came from.”

Paste recently chatted with Stephanie Jacoby, vice president of Johnnie Walker North America to learn more about the program, as well as get a sampling of the recipes created by 11 featured bartenders from around the U.S., including Orta.

PASTE: What inspired this new mixology program?

Stephanie Jacoby: Flavors of America was developed in support of Johnnie Walker’s new campaign, Keep Walking America, which celebrates the cultural progress and rich diversity of America today. Flavors of America showcases the authentic stories and diverse backgrounds of the bartending community through innovative, culturally-inspired cocktail recipes.

Paste: How did you select the bartenders featured in the program?

SJ: In addition to identifying top mixologists, who represent the cross-cultural generation of America, it was also important that each Flavors of America bartender embody the entrepreneurial and pioneering spirit of Johnnie Walker. These bartenders excel at their craft and have advanced their careers as a result of continued hard work and dedication. Each of the bartenders in the program were hand-selected and recognized for their outstanding work. Whether they have gained attention through awards, or have developed unique and innovate bar programs at their establishments, this is one group of inspiring bartenders.

Paste: What do you think will make these stories resonate with consumers?

SJ: Johnnie Walker recognizes that the craft cocktail movement continues to impact the way people are drinking and we have partnered with industry experts to help shape how people are drinking. The multi-tiered program infuses authentic cultural and local flavors into modern cocktail recipes. By highlighting a diverse range of holidays, traditions and cultural flavors, Flavors of America will appeal to the diverse community of Scotch adorers.

Paste: The campaign features themes of cultural progress and inclusiveness. Is this a direct response to the current political climate in the USA, or merely coincidental?

SJ: While the campaign message is timely, Johnnie Walker has been a pioneer of progress for nearly 200 years. The bar community is an excellent representation of our country’s rich diversity and it deserves to be celebrated. Flavors of America, and the larger Keep Walking America campaign is a celebration of the countless achievements, unwavering optimism and tireless progression of the great people who call America home.

Paste: Are you concerned that such political undertones (whether intentional or not) could alienate a segment of consumers?

SJ: While the program takes a more specific look at the multicultural bartending community, the campaign’s core message of progress is an inclusive one. We hope the campaign and program will resonate with all consumers and inspire people to celebrate each other.

Paste: The act of breaking bread or sharing a drink together can help facilitate people from disparate walks of life find common ground. Do you see this campaign as a means of finding commonalities and understanding across cultures in such a divisive time?

SJ: Our blends are enjoyed by a multitude of people around the world, and we hope the campaign inspires positivity, optimism and unity in people from all walks of life. Flavors of America is a celebration of the many rich cultures that make America so unique.

Paste: Beyond general brand awareness, what do you hope to achieve with this campaign?

SJ: With Flavors of America, we hope to educate Johnnie Walker fans and new whisky explorers on the versatility of Scotch. By tapping a diverse group of industry leaders, we are able to demonstrate how to responsibly enjoy specialty Johnnie Walker cocktails at home, and to spotlight people who are shaping modern cocktail culture.

11 Recipes from the Flavors of America Program

Garden State

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Bartender: Carlos Ruiz, Crystal Springs Resort, New Jersey
“I have moved around a lot in my life, especially for my age, but I do have to say when I came to New Jersey, I just fell in love with it. It is a beautiful state and this last cocktail is to represent the farms of New Jersey and the feeling of relaxation they bring.”

1 ½ oz. Johnnie Walker Red Label
½ oz. fresh carrot juice
½ oz. corn juice
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
¾ oz. dill simple syrup*
Absinthe rinse

Directions: Lightly coat a coupe glass with absinthe to rinse, discard remaining liquid. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Double strain ingredients into coupe. Garnish with pinch of fresh dill.

*Dill simple syrup recipe: In a pot, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Reduce to a simmer and add 2 oz. fresh dill, and let reduce for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Keep chilled until use.

Red Matsu

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Bartender: Chantal Tseng, Redeye Menus, Washington, D.C.
“This drink takes its inspiration from the Matsu Islands, a minor archipelago located in the Taiwan strait and named in honor of being a pilgrimage site to a mythical sea goddess named Matsu. She was believed to have been a shamaness from over a thousand years ago. In many of the tales attached to her, she heroically rescues people during a typhoon, which led to her becoming the patron goddess of seafarers. Red is a color she is often associated with as well as a general color for good fortune.”

1 oz. Johnnie Walker Red Label
¾ oz. Fino sherry
¼ oz. Campari

Directions: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled coupe. Express orange oils by gently twisting an orange peel over cocktail; garnish with expressed peel and sliced starfruit.

El Matador

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Bartender: Christian Rolon, Regent Cocktail Club, Miami
“I grew up in different provinces in Argentina, and what I love most about Argentina as a whole is the simple tradition of getting the family together every Sunday for dinner, drinks and to celebrate life. Nothing beats my father’s parilladas (BBQ), and I was always by his side helping out (in exchange for taste testing and the best piece of meat!) and to learn his process. Vermouth and herb-based drinks mixed with soda were often drank before and during our meals. Following our meals, we all enjoyed a traditional herbal drink, maté. There are certain aromas that take me right back to those days, like charcoal, vermouth and the scent of maté — all of which have inspired me to create this cocktail.”

1¼ oz. Johnnie Walker Double Black
¼ oz. sweet Italian vermouth
¾ oz. fresh grapefruit juice
¾ oz. maté syrup*
1 barspoon fresh lemon juice
1 barspoon fresh orange juice

Directions: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into double rocks Glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange wheels and 3 Italian parsley leaves.

*Mate syrup recipe: Combine 1 quart of sugar, 1 quart of water and 1 cup of Yerba Mate in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Fine strain and flash-cool in freezer.

Manzanilla Fields

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Bartender: Daniel Bautista, Bohemian House, Chicago
“This cocktail brings amazing memories of my childhood; my grandmother used to pick chamomile flowers from her garden and make a tea with fresh honey. Everyone would drink fresh teas from leaves and flowers that they would harvest right from their own gardens”

1 ½ oz. Johnnie Walker Red Label
1 oz. honey-chamomile syrup*
2 oz. fresh pineapple juice
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
3 drops aromatic bitters

Directions Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously to create foam from pineapple juice. Double strain into Collins glass over fresh ice. Garnish with dried culinary chamomile flowers.

*Honey-chamomile syrup recipe: Bring 1 cup honey and 1 cup water to a boil, add 1/3 cup dry culinary chamomile flowers, and reduce to a simmer. Let sit for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and double strain. Let cool before use.

Scottish Daisy

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Bartender: Daniel Guillen, El Cantinero, Dallas
“Dallas is a Margarita town; we all love a good margarita! With the affinity for Margaritas in mind, this riff on the classic Daisy cocktail is a must. Bringing the apple notes found in the Johnnie Walker Red Label, this cocktail could turn any Margarita drinker into a Scotch Socialite.”

½ oz. Johnnie Walker Red Label
¼ oz. Tawny port
¼ oz. elderflower liqueur
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
¾ oz. red apple syrup*
5 cardamom pods

Directions: Muddle cardamom pods in bottom of cocktail shaker. Add remaining ingredients, excluding tawny port, to shake with ice and shake. Double strain into Nick & Nora glass over crushed ice. Float tawny port and garnish with red apple slices (fanned) and mint sprig.

*Red Apple Syrup recipe: In a pot, add 1 cup pressed red apple juice and 1 cup white caster sugar, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. (Add 1 ½ oz. apple brandy to extend shelf life.)

Tamarindo de Playa (Tamarind of the Beach)

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Bartender: Ezra Star, Drink, Boston
“When I was a child in Venezuela, I used to sit on the beach drinking tamarind juice in the sun while my father drank scotch. This cocktail is an adult version of that experience.”

1 ½ oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. tamarind syrup*
½ oz. cinnamon syrup*
1 dash Angostura bitters

Directions: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into coupe glass.

*Tamarind syrup recipe: Combine 4 oz. tamarind juice and 4 oz. white sugar in mixing glass and stir until dissolved.

*Cinnamon syrup recipe: Steep 4 short cinnamon sticks in 1 cup boiling water for 4 minutes. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Add 1 cup white sugar and stir until dissolved.

It’s China, Not China

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Bartender: Moses Laboy, Bottle & Bine, New York
“Playing off of my Puerto Rican descent, I’m using a fruit called orangelo (chironja in Puerto Rico). It’s a citrus fruit with the flavor profile of an orange (“china” in Puerto Rican Spanish) that meets a grapefruit (“toronja”). This fruit, when combined with the notes of vanilla and butter found in Johnnie Walker Black Label, play wonderfully in this citrus-forward cocktail. Think: blended Scotch lemonade!”

1 ½ oz. Johnnie Walker Black
1 oz. chironja (orangelo)
¾ oz. yuzu juice
¾ oz. cane sugar syrup
½ teaspoon orange marmalade

Directions: Add all ingredients into mixing tin and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until cold. Strain into Collins glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a long orange twist.

Show Me the Money

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Bartender: Phil Willis, The Spirits In Motion, Los Angeles
“This cocktail is inspired by flavors of the Caribbean. For 16 years in a row, I would travel to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, or the Bahamas, spending up to two months living the island life each year. These flavors of fresh fruit, fresh citrus, island spices, and nuts became a big part of my heritage and flavors that influence me today.”

1 oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label
½ oz. Fino sherry
½ oz. falernum
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. toasted almond and vanilla bean-pineapple shrub*
2 dashes Jamaican bitters

Directions: Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain in to a goblet glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a pineapple rind and leaf, a dash of nutmeg, and 2-3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters.

*Toasted almond and vanilla bean-pineapple shrub recipe: In order, add 1 cup toasted almonds, 1 cup cubed pineapple, 1 cup white sugar and 1 seared vanilla bean to a mason jar. Seal the jar and keep in a cool, dark place for 24 hours (minimum) until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 cup white vinegar to mixture, seal and store for another 24 hours, shaking periodically. Store and keep up to 1 week.

Me Quiero Casar

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Bartender: Ricardo Venegas, Eightysix’d Hospitality Group, Houston
“‘Me quiero casar’ is a lyric of a local song about a traditional rice pudding dessert in Mexico called arroz con leche. This would be the cocktail with my rich Mexican heritage attached to it. This cocktail emulates that vivid childhood memory when my mother would make this delicious creamy dessert.”

1 ½ oz. Johnnie Walker Red Label
¾ oz. Zacapa-fortified sweetened condensed milk*
1 oz. almond milk
¾ oz. cold brew coffee

Directions: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into Collins glass over crushed ice. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

*Zacapa-fortified sweetened condensed milk recipe: Combine 4 oz. sweetened condensed milk with 2 oz. Zacapa rum, and stir until mixture is smoothly blended. Chill until ready to use.

Like a Peach

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Bartender: Nicolas Torres, Lazy Bear, San Francisco
“It’s very important for me to stay seasonal when it comes to selecting my produce, and we are blessed here in the Bay Area with tons of local markets and farmers’ markets happening multiple times a week. My father farmed — not always by choice — but it was hands down the first job he ever had, and it taught him an amazing work ethic. I find it important to meet and get to know my farmers in the area. It’s good to know who was the person that raised your food, it gives the produce more life and in turn more life and story to my cocktails!”

1 oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label
½ oz. Tempus Fugit Kina L’Aéro d’Or
½ oz. white nectarine syrup*

Directions: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into old fashioned glass over fresh ice. Garnish with two slices of fresh peach.

*White nectarine syrup recipe: In a pot, bring together 3 cups water and 4 cups white sugar, and slowly simmer until sugar has dissolved. While the sugar water is still warm, pour into a blender and add 4-5 chopped, pitted white nectarines with the skin still intact for added color. Blend on low for 30-40 seconds, and double strain through mesh sieve or cheese cloth collecting the pulp-free syrup. Keep in refrigerator until ready for use.

Smoky Jamrock

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Bartender: Gabe Orta, Bar Lab, Flavors of America National Ambassador
“This recipe pays homage to the large Caribbean influence found in the South Florida culinary scene. The Jamaican syrup really adds nice complexity and drives home that Caribbean flare and plays wonderfully with the hints of smoke found in Johnnie Walker Black Label and added heavy smoke from a touch of Johnnie Walker Double Black Label.”

1 oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label
¼ oz. Johnnie Walker Double Black Label
¾ oz. Jamaican syrup*
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice

Directions: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into old fashioned glass over fresh ice.

*Jamaican syrup recipe: Add 1 quart water, 1 quart white sugar, ½ cup peeled ginger, ¼ cup all-spice berries and 4 cloves to a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and let cool. Strain using a mesh sieve strainer into jar or bottle with sealable lid, store in refrigerator until use.

Jim Sabataso is a writer, cocktail enthusiast, and bar director for The Palms Restaurant in Rutland, Vermont. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @JimSabataso.

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