The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2018

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Page 40 of 112

40  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2018 LONE STAR STATE F or anyone seeking evidence that today's libations industry is a playground of creativity and collaboration, January's San Antonio Cocktail Conference (SACC) provided spirited proof. Held since 2012 in the historic core of the Alamo City, the annual event now attracts thousands of industry professionals and cocktail enthusiasts to one of the country's most vibrant cities. For attendees who know their revelry supports philanthropic causes, the added benefit is like a Luxardo cherry in the perfect Manhattan. Cathy Siegel, the conference's Executive Director, oversees SACC under the wing of Houston Street Charities; helmed by local restaurateur Mark Bohanan, the philanthropic orga- nization has given more than $700,000 to children's charities via the conference since its inception. The chef's eponymous steakhouse served as the birthplace of SACC: When Bohanan revamped his bar menu around 2009, he called upon the late New York City bartender Sasha Petraske to lend a hand, and Petraske nurtured the seeds of the first conference while furthering its charitable mission. Even the detail-oriented Petraske might marvel at the sheer level of coordination required to pull off more recent versions of the conference, which in 2018 saw 9,000 tickets sold and 160 different cocktails served across various events. The three gala parties, meanwhile, gave brands an opportunity to pull out all the stops at the recently-restored St. Anthony Hotel; the whimsical children's museum; and the city's 300-year-old La Villita arts district, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In between in-depth seminars on topics like the history of Sherry, the regionality of agave expression in Oaxaca, and Texas' foray into the trendy vermouth market, this year's attendees could venture beyond the conference's official itinerary through activities like a tasting of rare rums from Maison Ferrand's Plantation Rum portfolio or a boat tour on the San Antonio River with Kimo Sabe Mezcal. "We want the conference to be good for the industry, good for bars, good for restaurants," Siegel says. "For me, the success of one is the success of many." For more information on future conferences, visit Tio Mio Signature Cocktail of the 2018 San Antonio Cocktail Conference ◗ 2 oz. Herradura Tequila Añejo ◗ 1¼ oz. agave nectar ◗ 2 small dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters ◗ 2 small dashes chocolate bitters In a rocks glass, combine agave nectar, Angostura Aromatic Bitters, and chocolate bitters. Stir until nectar is dissolved. Add tequila and ice to glass and stir gently, quickly, and briefly. Zest a grapefruit peel over the cocktail and use as a garnish. Spirited Proof THE SAN ANTONIO COCKTAIL CONFERENCE DRAWS DROVES OF COCKTAIL ENTHUSIASTS TO THE ALAMO CITY by Lori Moffatt PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SAN ANTONIO COCKTAIL CONFERENCE A spirit of collaboration and creativity shines at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, which takes place annually in January throughout the Alamo City's historic downtown core. This year, more than 100 brands presented 160 cocktails at events throughout the weekend.

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