When writing about anything alcohol related, I feel like I have to put a disclaimer that I am not the most knowledgeable person in this field. I tend to keep to what I know or rely on what people recommend to me when I am willing to ask. That is why San Antonio Cocktail Conference’s Tasting Suites presented by H-E-B is my favorite event. It helps me branch out of my comfort zone and become more adventurous in my cocktail choices. I enjoyed the event so much last year, that this year, I invited my sister and my two cousins Nadia and Gabby to tag along for a girls-outing. What better way to spend quality time than trying new cocktails in the beautiful St. Anthony Hotel.
As soon as we walked into the lobby, a volunteer handed us the itinerary that listed what brands and spirits would be in which rooms. He then casually leaned over and said, “If you go to the fourth floor, there are monkeys in the Martine suite. It’s best to go now before it gets too crowded.” That was all it took.
Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur had three cocktail options to try: the Martine Cocktail, Honeysuckle Gin & Tonic and the Como La Flor, a reference to our beloved Selena Quintanilla. Being my namesake, it was a sign that this was the cocktail for me. Plus, it had tequila. It was a combination of Martine Honeysuckle, Republic tequila, lime juice and simple syrup.
After stopping by the table, we joined the line to take a picture with the adorable Capuchin monkeys. I secretly felt like these monkeys were old friends of mine. I had seen them at the Tasting Suites and the afterparty at The Last Word a year ago. Naturally, they didn’t remember me.
The next tasting suite we went to was the one and only Wyborowa Wodka. They are by far one of my favorite suites because they always have fun games to play to win prizes. Surrounding the delicious appetizers—that we definitely stuffed our faces with—were corn hole, giant Jenga, and Yardzee. While in line, people played Plinko to win hats and jackets at the risk of winning a shot. My sister and cousin won the shot, but also got to take home a Wybo shot glass.
Wyborow Wodka also has some killer cocktails, like their To the Second Leg. This cocktail had a strawberry basil honey cordial, falernum and some lemon juice. A refreshing cocktail for any outdoor event.
When exiting the elevator to the fifth floor, we were greeted with cumbia music and someone who shouted, “We have great margaritas for when you’re ready!” We cumbia-ed our way to Twang’s suite. They had tables covered with specialty koozies, piles of Twang beer salt packets and Dum Dums.
We were able to pick which salt we wanted to rim our margarita. We tried Sunrise Spice (chile-lime), Nectarberry (strawberry-lime) and Citrusplash (lemon-lime). The Sunrise Spice won me over.
On the same floor, Kimo Sabe Mezcal also had margaritas. Their margarita had a sweetness that had all of us mmmm-ing after every sip.
Fat Ice made an appearance, showing off their crystal-clear, high-quality ice. Its slow melting rate makes it a perfect pair for your cocktail.
In the Anachacho room, we came across H-E-B who had an amazing grapefruit mimosa—I don’t even like grapefruit! What made it even better was that I could make a quick trip to my local H-E-B and get all the ingredients I needed to whip this up. All you need is Republic jalapeno lime mixer, Rudy Red grapefruit juice, Mionetta extra dry Prosecco and Herradura agave nectar.
Last year, I mentioned that Blue Chair Bay Rum was my favorite of the event. This year, nothing has changed. Blue Chair Bay still owns my heart. This rum is so rich, sweet and flavorful that we tasted three of their flavors straight: Key Lime, Banana and Coconut. All went down so smooth, it almost feels like you’re trying the rum mixed.
While Blue Chair Bay is the reigning MVP of my favorite liquors, Chango Loco is the winner of most creative packaging.
As the event ended and we made our way to the hotel lobby to secure our Lyft—always drink responsibly—we heard, “free beer!” We instantly spun on our heels and went in the direction of the voice. It was HighWheel Beer coming in clutch. There’s nothing more comforting than a beer after a long day of sipping cocktails. Located in the Southtown area, they surely gained a fan.
If there’s any San Antonio Cocktail Conference event that you want to attend, I am a Tasting Suites advocate. The tickets won’t break the bank, and there are over 50 cocktails and spirits you can sample during a four-hour period. And if you’re anything like me, it’s also a great way to broaden your palate.
We had so much fun at this event that we agreed to be back next year. So thank you Tasting Suites, I’ll be counting down the days.
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