So. The year is done, and the party is over.
You’ve walked back into the workplace and mourned the loss of a toasty bed and a warm feeling from days of reckless relaxation, most of which culminated with fine spirits to make your spirits bright – or at least take some of the chill from an unusually cold holiday break.
Now it’s back to the grind of the routine and a quick hello to all of the new habits and new regimens that come with the start of every year. It’s back to less party and more profession, without much transition between holidays and workdays.
Maybe you want one more chance to dance. Maybe you wish there was just one more party to look forward to, to power you through the toughest parts of winter and into the spring, when the social schedule finally ramps back up for spring weddings and SXSW. Maybe you just want to find a new way to celebrate in 2018.
To address all of your possible desires, you need look no further than the 2018 San Antonio Cocktail Conference – a gathering of industry titans, food and drink pioneers and craft cocktail geniuses from around the state, nation and globe. (And a short drive down I-35 for many Texans.) Every year, these cocktailists convene at different sites along the Riverwalk and Downtown corridor, showing off not only the best in liquid libations, but the best that the city itself has to offer.
Events are strewn throughout the city’s hotspots, culminating at the St. Anthony Hotel, which serves as the epicenter for the event. Classes are on offer, which cater to every level of familiarity with cocktails and cocktail culture – from the intrepid explorer, looking for something new, to the seasoned bartender, looking to refine their palate and their menu offerings. Seminars are held every hour, beginning Friday morning, on a variety of subjects, like how to step up your home bar, the difference between whisky and whiskey (note the ‘e’ inclusion), and a history of Texas cocktails. Sprinkled in between these sessions are less-formal sessions, like “Bourbon Barrel Experiments: Aging Bourbon and Barrel Aged Cocktails” or “Wide World of Brandy”, where the focus is on tasting, rather than crafting.
And that’s just the daytime. At night, the city itself transforms into an all-locations party that makes New Year’s Eve look like a Netflix night in, the energy and activity are so plentiful. “Cocktails Under the Sea” is this year’s weather-proof signature event, held at the Villita Assembly Hall – a spacious and bright space that will transform into a makeshift aquarium, in which to drown in the best cocktails and spirits in the world.
[Of note: When we use the phrase, “in the world,” we aren’t kidding. Prominent and storied brands from all over the globe will be well-represented – Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s Gin, Drambuie, Macallan, Glenmorangie, Cynar, Maison-Ferrand, and Pernod-Ricard are all on hand to serve their best.]
Unlike New Orleans’ storied “Tales of the Cocktail,” SACC is open and available to all, not just to industry professionals. Tickets for individual events and sessions are available, as are SACC experience packages that provide you with access to multiple events and multiple sessions. And, for the enterprising explorer, there is a VIP package that gives the buyer “run-of-the-house” on the city of San Antonio.
(Pro-tip, the “Tio Mio” and VIP packages are not only the best value, but make for the most enjoyable experience). Hotel rooms are still available, and staying anywhere along the river, including the extraordinarily envy-inspiring Hotel Emma, puts you a mere walk or short Uber ride away from all the action.
The San Antonio Cocktail Conference is held from January 10-14, at locations around the city.
All photos courtesy San Antonio Cocktail Conference