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Johnnie Walker Black brand hosts branding event

High-end whiskey brand Johnnie Walker Black Label reached out from its traditional base of preppy aristos to hip amigos with a “Fusion” party in L.A. last week developed by New York-based Overland Entertainment Co. (

Targeting Latino influentials from TV, design and cuisine, the party at West Hollywood’s Quixote Studios highlighted the work of clothing designer Gustavo Arango, formerly with Bill Blass, and Food Network regular Aaron Sanchez.

Some 400 guests including baseball great Jose Canseco and TV star Nicholas Gonzalez ("The OC") mingled as DJ Carlos Lopez pumped out tunes in a lounge environment including square black lacquer tables topped with plastic “ice,” glowing orange bars, black and yellow fabric panels, and cane sofas topped with yellow corduroy cushions. The jaunty Johnnie Walker “striding man” logo meandered through the event, appearing as gobos on the walls and as a white emblem on tiny black votive candles. Overland’s Paula Longendyke created the chic-yet-warm environment.

The evening’s beverage star was the “Azucar Morena,” a sweet, 180-degree departure from the whiskey norm, mixing Johnnie Walker Black with cream soda in a lowball glass rimmed with vanilla sugar. The menu included green plantains topped with smoked salmon, roe and chive crema fresca; shrimp and scallop ceviche with passion fruit served on spoons; masa tarts topped with black beans, tomatillo-avocado salsa and cotija cheese; pork rib “lollipops” flavored with guava barbecue sauce; and boqueron (Spanish anchovy) and green bean bundles dressed with roasted shallot and beet vinaigrette.

A $5 donation at the door, for which guests received “coins” that could be traded for drinks, benefited Self Help Graphics & Art, a visual arts cultural center serving the Latino community and promoting the contribution of Latino art and culture to the American landscape.

The L.A. party was the fourth hosted by Johnnie Walker Black since November; other event sites were Miami, New York and Houston.

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