Attendance was up by 25% at the fifth annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference this year with yet another impressive lineup of seminars and speakers. The event kicked off on a somewhat somber note, with a touching round-table chat about co-founder Sasha Petraske, who passed away late last summer. Moderated by Imbibe contributor Robert O. Simonson, friends and colleagues of Petraske—including Chris Bostick (Half Step), Simon Ford (86 Co.), Eric Alperin (Varnish, Half Step), Jordan Corney (Bohanan’s), Tim Bryand (Bohanan’s), Chad Solomon (Midnight Rambler) and Petraske’s wife Georgette Moger—shared memories and stories, followed by an official Daiquiri Toast.
From there, the mood lightened as the traditional mix of parties, seminars and events filled the schedule. As is apropos for the region, mezcal and tequila were both popular topics this year, with several seminars touching on Mexico’s native spirits, including tequila and chocolate pairings and the culture of mezcal (see slideshow above). Jacob Grier’s Beer Cocktails seminar (check out his Mai Ta-IPA recipe here) was a highlight, and one of the more illuminating seminars we attended was on the topic of madeira—the Portuguese fortified wine that’s starting to see a comeback in cocktail bars.
San Antonio’s cocktail scene has grown significantly over the past few years, and we got the chance to check out some notable spots, including Southerleigh Brewery at the Pearl, located adjacent to the stunning Hotel Emma. Rooftop bar Paramour boasts drinks that are as stellar as the view of downtown, and we got a sneak peek at the Juniper Tar (recently reopened under new management). From the Portuguese Gin and Tonic (pictured above) to the Pamplona featuring two kinds of sherry, we’d wager they could have the best cocktail list in town when they get rolling.
Scroll through the slideshow above to see more Instagram highlights from the event.