Johnnie Walker seeks to inspire individuals to keep moving forward by providing new experiences and venues where they can grow their passions and craft. For the second installment of the Johnny Walker’s Johnnie Weekend Creators Lab Series, the premier whisky brand teams up with DJ Euric Lumanog and bartender/bar owner David Ong (The Curator/Oto) for a workshop and crawl that aims to elevate appreciation for great music and craft whisky.

The first part of the workshop, Cocktail 101 was conducted at David’s bar, Oto, on a mellow Sunday afternoon. David, a seasoned bar owner and respected member of the industry, gave participants an introduction on making basic cocktails using the classic Johnnie Walker Black, the smoky Johnnie Walker Double Black, and the limited-edition Blender’s Batch (which is only available until January 2018). He chose very basic drinks to make for the workshop, and gave a demonstration on how to make these crafted cocktails.

David Ong
Johnnie Walker Black, the smoky Johnnie Walker Double Black, and the limited-edition Blender’s Batch

David started with the Highball (Johnnie Walker Black, dehydrated lemon, topped with soda water). “This is the easiest to make. It’s like a beer; like a long business drink,” he said. While making the cocktails, he also shared some valuable information. “When we make cocktails, it’s very important that we do things very efficiently. So when you hold the jigger in the middle, hold it between your fingers out like a peace sign. You hold it steady and easily flip it over the other side or pour over a mixing glass or shaker without adding extra movements.”

David garnishing the Whisky Sour (Johnnie Walker Double Black, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white) with aromatic bitters

The Whisky Sour (Johnnie Walker Double Black, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white) gave David the opportunity to teach us how to lock a shaker properly. “Angle the shaker in such a way so one side lines up and is straight, otherwise it’s not going to lock properly, knock it together to make sure it’s secure,” he advised. Ice is also important. At Oto, they make their own ice courtesy of their Hoshizaki ice maker, which makes square, dense ice that cracks less when you shake it compared to regular tube ice.

The Old Fashioned (Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch, Aperol, Martini Rosso)

The Old Fashioned (Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch, Aperol, Martini Rosso), was also very easy to make. Dave said that the original recipe of the Old Fashioned was made with bourbon, so using Blender’s Batch was perfect for it. “The orange peel is not just for decoration. What we need is the oil and the fragrance. Hold the tips lightly; give a nice pinch over the drink to release the oils,” David instructed.

“When you’re stirring, you get more layered flavors because there’s no aeration.”

He emphasized two things that need to be considered while making cocktails: chilling and diluting. You can achieve both through either shaking or stirring. “When you shake a drink, there’s pressure, because there’s no air coming in. You’re aerating it, and all the flavors come together,” he explained. “As opposed to when you’re stirring, you get more layered flavors because there’s no aeration.” For a more in-depth look into shaking vs. stirring, check out our feature.

Each of the workshop participants was given the opportunity to go behind the bar to make their own cocktail and apply what they’ve learned. Most chose to make a Whisky Sour, maybe because shaking the drink seemed like fun and it kept the energy up. David then shared the golden ratio of one: two: three when it comes to cocktails: one part sweetener (15 ml), 2 parts citrus (30 ml), and 3 parts for whatever spirit (45 ml) (although at Oto, they use 60 ml of spirit); and made a bonus modern classic Penicillin (Johnnie Walker Black, lemon juice, ginger syrup, honey syrup) for the appreciative and tipsy crowd.

The second part of the workshop was conducted by DJ Euric Lumanog, who gave some good tips and practical advice on curating a playlist for a kickass party. “The opening set is just background music,” he started. “Nothing too much or overpowering.”

DJ Euric Lumanog

The key to making a cohesive playlist that’s not all over the place is looking for similarities in songs that you stitch together. Songs with similar lyrics can often blend together well. Harmonic mixing, mixing songs in the same (or close enough) keys, songs that sound alike and are at the same, double, or half the BPM (beats per minute), are also good ways to establish a flow in your playlist. Taking advantage of Oto’s killer sound system, Euric gave some examples of songs that would fit these guidelines.

Euric also advises using songs that have the same producers—since they have a certain musical aesthetic—and using song samples to fuel your playlist. He says that the songs can also be used to weave a story. He shares that his Valentine mix is sought after, since he goes through the phases of love and heartbreak: from infatuation to falling in love to staying in love to eventually breaking up and getting yourself together again. Now that is a journey most people can relate to.

He likened music and vibe to a wave. You may have put together the perfect playlist, but there should be some wiggle room for changes while you’re playing it. “Consider the crowd,” he remarked. “You need to get a feel of what they want. Maybe play what they can sing to.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Mr. Brightside” are major sing-along tunes that get the crowd belting out lyrics and busting out moves. ”Everything has to connect,” said Euric. The songs have to connect to each other and they have to connect to the crowd.

DJ Euric Lumanog and David Ong

Mixing a cocktail and making a playlist have some parallels. Both require balance, connection, passion, and some skill—and hopefully, the person doing it is having fun. Euric summed it up nicely: “Alcohol makes you think you can dance. Music makes you dance.”

Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Rian Asiddao

After the informative workshops on cocktails and music, guests were treated to a presentation by Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador Rian Asiddao on four of the Johnnie Walker Scotch brands: Johnnie Walker Red (The Pioneer Blend), Johnnie Walker Black (The Royal Warrant), Johnnie Walker Gold (The Celebratory Blend), and Johnnie Walker Blue (The Rarest). He gave a background on how these exceptional whiskies are made and the differences among them.

And in a twist on the usual whisky tasting activity, Rian put our tastebuds to the test by giving us the four whiskies without telling us what they were and making us guess which was which. It was a more dynamic and engaging way of getting the crowd involved—a great approach to whisky tasting that would be fun to do with your friends.

The day bled into night and the bar crawl commenced, featuring three bars with three guest bartenders offering two drinks each (plus Blender’s Batch neat or on the rocks), and three DJs playing different kinds of music. The bartenders crafted cocktails featuring Black Label and Double Black with catchy names that were in line with the musical theme of their DJ counterpart.

Mathilde

First up was Mathilde, where the theme was Disco, and Emel Rowe got the crowd swaying their hips to some dance-y tunes. Orman Bag-ao of Long Bar, served up Four-on-the-Floor (Johnnie Walker Black Label, lemon juice, ginger syrup, pinch of black pepper) and Hi-Hat (Johnnie Walker Double Black, sweet red vermouth, Angostura bitters, absinthe) that got people excited for more.

Orman Bag-ao of Long Bar
Four-on-the-Floor (Johnnie Walker Black Label, lemon juice, ginger syrup, pinch of black pepper)
Hi-Hat (Johnnie Walker Double Black, sweet red vermouth, Angostura bitters, absinthe)
DJ Emel Rowe

Up next was Polilya, where World Music was played by Supermikkie. Jason Hussein Ali of Oto made cocktails that not only featured the Johnnie Walker whiskies, but also beer elements from Polilya (whose owners also own Engkanto beer): No Woman No Cry (Johnnie Walker Black Label, tamarind syrup, macadamian syrup, lemon juice, absinthe, double IPA foam) and Jammin (Johnnie Walker Double Black, Stout syrup, chocolate bitters).

Polilya
Jason Hussein Ali of Oto
DJ Supermikkie
Jammin (Johnnie Walker Double Black, Stout syrup, chocolate bitters)

The last stop was where the day began: Oto. Skratchmark played hip-hop beats on the bar’s kickass sound system, while Lester Ligon of ABV churned out The Blacker the Berry (Johnnie Walker Black Label, Crème de Mare liqueur, agave nectar, lemon juice, Angostura bitters) and Twice the Merry (Johnnie Walker Double Black, cinnamon syrup, chocolate bitters), named after Kendrick Lamar songs. By this time, people were thoroughly loosened up and grooving to the music.

DJ Skratchmark
Lester Ligon
Twice the Merry (Johnnie Walker Double Black, cinnamon syrup, chocolate bitters)

The second installment of the Creators Lab Series followed the format of the previous one, where a workshop was held, and followed by an event. This time, Johnnie Walker succeeded in bringing cocktails and music together through an informative and hands-on workshop and having DJs and bartenders collaborate on a theme for the bar crawl. It was a well-conceptualized and well-executed event that brought people together. Can’t wait to see and experience the next installment.

Photos by Star Sabroso

Chrysmas is your go-to gal for all things involving alcohol. She maneuvers her way through the Metro’s traffic in her black boots and fishnet stockings, scouring places where one can indulge one’s self in libations of all kinds. From Poblacion to Pasay, Malate to Makati, Tagaytay to Taguig. Ask her where to go to get your choice of poison and chances are she’s already there holding a good stiff drink in one hand and a pen in the other.

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