2014 san antonio cocktail conference

Taking place January 16-19, the 2014 San Antonio Cocktail Conference was four days of seminars, parties, tastings, events, tacos and general good times in the hotels, bars and theaters of San Antonio. We sampled new spirits, got reacquainted with old ones, learned a few things and stayed out way too late. Which, all in all, equals festival success. And from our adventures comes this: a few of our favorite moments from the 2014 San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

We attended a few seminars, learning all about vermouth and terroir-driven rhum agricole. We tasted pisco with Porton Master Distiller, Johnny Schuler, and King Cocktail, Dale DeGroff. And we spoke with author and Hemingway expert, Philip Greene about his book To Have and Have Another.

We made our rounds on the party circuit, which included a classy opening night affair at the striking Majestic Theatre on Thursday night. A long, Rhum Clement-fueled boat ride down the river followed by a Texas Spirits Party on Friday night. Which was succeeded by two after parties: 1) a smoked-meat-and-whiskey-cocktail shindig at Cured, and 2) a burlesque-y Ancho Reyes launch party at the Brooklynite. (Friday was a long day).

And on Saturday, a lively bar hop along Houston Street led to the evening’s marquee event: a party with the 86 Co. at the Empire Theatre, which featured the Spazmatics, a bunch of reimagined ’80s cocktails, frenetic dancing and some solid emcee work courtesy of Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric. And then there was Sunday, which started with bloody marys, moved toward a William Grant cocktail competition (congrats to the winner Jake Corney of Bohanan’s) and closed with a festive romp back at the Brooklynite.

And throughout it all, we tasted some great spirits from the likes of Fernet Vallet, Kinsman Apricot Brandy, Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, Casamigos Tequila and many more. And when we weren’t working the festival rounds, we still managed to sneak away to Esquire Tavern for delicious cocktails and the occasional, much needed salad.

We managed to make it back in one piece, armed with the sights and sounds of San Antonio, many good memories and a collective, well-earned headache. We’re veterans of Tales of the Cocktail, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and Portland Cocktail Week, but this was our first San Antonio Cocktail Conference. And overall, we were impressed. See you next year, San Antonio.

Photos: Sonhui Gray

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