Starting next week, a celebrated mixologist will be behind the bar of a downtown Durham watering hole serving up a taste of Black history to its patrons.

Bourbon aficionado Che Ramos, also known as The Black Bourbon Guy, will be the featured guest bartender at Alley Twenty Six on the last Wednesday of each month, starting March 30.

Alley Twenty Six is owned by Shannon Healy. The cocktail bar and restaurant sits just across the street from the city’s main branch of the U.S. Post Office on E. Chapel Hill Street. This year, it is a James Beard finalist for Outstanding Bar Program.

“Che is one of my favorite bartenders,” Healy said in a press release made public this week by Alley Twenty Six spokeswoman, Andrea Weigl. “Now he’s following his passion and transitioning into more consulting and education with the launch of The Black Bourbon Guy.”

Healy said he and Alley Twenty Six managers invited Ramos to join them behind the bar last month for one of their Whiskey Wednesday events. 

“Our guests enjoyed Che’s presence so much that we asked him to return on a regular basis,” Healy added. Ramos’ “expertise and enthusiasm to share his bourbon knowledge makes him a good fit for the type of hospitality we try to offer at Alley Twenty Six.” 

According to the press release, here’s how Whiskey Wednesday works at the upscale cocktail bar: Every Wednesday, Alley Twenty Six team chooses a “different, unique or exciting bottle of whiskey to serve at a break-even price,” Weigl wrote. It gets interesting, especially for Bull City bar hoppers. If an Alley Twenty Six patron ordered a pour of the same whiskey at another bar or even at Alley Twenty Six on a different night, they would pay the standard upcharge. 

“Whiskey Wednesday is a way for the cocktail bar to offer guests a chance to learn about these premium whiskeys without breaking the bank,” Weigl stated. Tonight, the bar will be offering George Dickel Bottled in Bond for $5 a pour. Ramos selected Uncle Nearest 1856 for $5 to pour for his appearance next week. 

A bit of Black History to top the drink off: Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is named after Nathan Green, the Tennessee slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, Weigl noted in the release.

Ramos is a restaurant-and-bar kind of guy: According to the release, he has spent nearly 20 years working at Triangle restaurants and bars, notably the Weathervane and Kitchen, both in Chapel Hill, along with the University Club and Counting House at the 21c Museum Hotel, both in Durham. 

In late 2020, Ramos started The Black Bourbon Guy to offer professional training as well as private whiskey tastings and cocktail classes, with the goal of increasing the presence of people of color both behind the bar and among the patrons at the bars he likes to visit. 

“There’s not a lot of black representation on either side of the bars that I go to,” Ramos said in the release. “The goal of these events is to share both my and Alley Twenty Six’s love of great whiskey with a diverse group of people. That benefits everybody.” 

Ramos’ two-hour turn at Alley Twenty Six starts next week at 4 p.m. 

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. 

Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to