I am far from a cocktail aficionado. About 95% of my alcohol intake is composed of beer, much to my mother’s dismay. It is not that I dislike cocktails, I just haven’t had enough experience in the cocktail scene to know my tastes.
Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 San Antonio Cocktail Conference, along with my bartender best friend Daniella. From the Tasting Suites to the Stroll on Houston, the conference gave me the chance to get out of my beer rut and enjoy what cocktails have to offer.
The Tasting Suites presented by H-E-B were held at Valencia Hotel and as soon as we walked in, I already felt like a noob. Daniella had to explain to me what bitters were as we approached the Salud! Bitters table. Despite the “bitter” name, the Chile Lime was amazing!
My first venture into the tasting suites took me to Bayou Rum. I sampled the Satsuma, which had a nice citrusy taste. The reps then whipped up a quick little cocktail on the spot which was refreshing for the noontime event.
The next floor took us to Prairie Organic Spirits. They should win some points for diversity! Along with a classic cocktail, they had a hot cocoa and a berry tea made with their vodka. They also won a lot of people over, including myself, with their presence of grilled cheese.
One of the most raved about suites was “the monkey room.” Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur brought some fun for their tastings with flower crowns and, yes, monkeys!
You know how I mentioned I have not had much cocktail experience, well I’ve had experience with whiskey—not the best kind of experience. Whiskey makes my stomach churn. Thanks college. But Daniella was impressed with Balcones. Apparently if I had liked whiskey, I’d love Balcones.
Without a doubt, my favorite distributor was Blue Chair Bay Rum. Whether mixed in a cocktail or on its own, it was so smooth and rich with island-inspired flavors. Sipping their Boozy Banana had me feeling like I was sitting along the shore with the wind in my hair.
The Tasting Suites offered a little bit of everything and was the perfect way to start off my SAAC journey.
At the end of the day, it was time for the Stroll on Houston—the highly anticipated SAAC event.
Starting off at the IBC plaza, there was tons of tents filled with drinks and food that you forget that there is more going on outside the plaza. I know I sure did and spent a lot of time venturing to each tent, attempting to try anything that I could get my hands on.
Truthfully, I did spend a lot of time within the plaza and left little time to explore more of the Houston street festivities. A definite noob mistake! On the barricaded sidewalks, more distributors shared drinks and swag, with other pop-up bars set up along the way. There was pan dulce cocktails, lobster bisque and tacos.
The party-like atmosphere pulsated within San Antonio’s downtown. It resonated with life and fun as people tried new things, let their hair loose and danced the night away. The Stroll on Houston is an event for the books and should be experience by many. I’m even ready to mark my calendar for the 2018 San Antonio Cocktail Conference and to say goodbye to my beer rut!
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