Another San Antonio Cocktail Conference is in the books, and with it, another fine event filled with educational seminars, tastings, spirited dinners and parties. Lots of parties. This year’s conference featured a rigorous educational track, with three days of classes covering everything from running a bar and whiskey blending to proper service and the cocktails of Ian Fleming and James Bond. Good drinks were plentiful. Tacos abounded. And everywhere you looked–mezcal. All in all, it was a success. So below: scenes and notes from the 2016 San Antonio Cocktail Conference.
We Toasted to Sasha Petraske
Sasha Petraske, he of Milk & Honey fame, has played a major role in the cocktail renaissance. From training and otherwise inspiring hordes of NYC bartenders to open their own bars across the city and country, training the staff at Bohanan’s in San Antonio and even co-founding this very conference, the late bartender leaves an impressive legacy. To kickoff the weekend, we toasted to the man himself with daiquiris in hand, those being his favorite cocktail.
We Tasted Some New Spirits
Between the seminars, parties and tasting rooms, we sampled a handful of intriguing and new-to-us spirits. The most memorable was Balsam Amaro Americano, a joint effort from Adam Seger (Hum Botanical), Barry Young (Boyd & Blair Vodka) and Rodrick Markus (Rare Tea Cellar) that’s deeply flavorful and just the right amount of bitter. Drink it by itself, or mix one part Balsam with three parts of your favorite wine to make your own sweet vermouth.
We Drank Much Mezcal
It’s no surprise that the tequila and mezcal culture is thriving in San Antonio. But this year, you couldn’t walk down a San Antonio street without tripping over a mezcal ambassador or finding your way into a mezcal-related seminar or party. The smoky Mexican spirit continues to draw in more converts. As for where to drink it: the newish Mezcaleria Mixtli is a good bet, boasting the finest selection in town.
We Checked Out the Bar Scene
The past few years have been good to San Antonio’s bar scene, and while our extracurricular activities are typically situated around Esquire Tavern, the Last Word and the Brooklynite, this round took us to a couple of other inviting watering holes. Bar 1919 is a classic-leaning cocktail bar with an enviable whiskey selection, and Paramour is a gorgeous, riverside rooftop bar with good drinks and even better views.
We Ate Tacos
You can’t go to San Antonio and not engage in this most delicious pastime. So engage we did. Of course, not all taco outings must include a Tito’s Vodka bus, a minor traffic accident and eating perfectly-seasoned tacos from a strip club-adjacent food truck. But shouldn’t they?