Category Archives: San Antonio

The St. Anthony Hotel (San Antonio, Texas)

Being a Texan, I’ve spent my fare share of time in San Antonio–both as a child exploring the Alamo and reveling in the bright colors and festive sights on the Riverwalk, and as an adult.  Now, I can appreciate the vibrant culture, but also some different things about the city … the food, drink, and hospitality.

One of the historic hotels in Downtown, the St. Anthony, was built in 1909 and is steeped in history.  One of the first hotels in the city, it was originally called “Waldorf on the Prairie”, as it was compared to New York’s Waldorf Astoria but was in a city that, at the time, wasn’t a metropolitan city (hence “on the prairie”).  It’s said to not only be haunted, but also the place where Southwest Airlines was first conceived on a napkin at the St. Anthony Club …. which happens to have been the first place in the city to buy alcohol by the glass in 1959.  (Bc that’s the kind of history I care about.)

Picture courtesy of The St. Anthony

I’ve stayed at the St. Anthony hotel thrice now, and each time it has been a better and better experience.  My first visit was before its renovation, which took place 2012-2015.  While that seems like a long time for a renovation, they did it slowly and thoughtfully as to not disturb guests too much and retain as much of the history behind the hotel as possible.  And the result was goooooood.

Quite candidly, pre-renovation, the rooms were quite small and felt … tired.  Now, they’re anything but with all the modern amenities that you’d expect from a luxury hotel, but also little bits of history here and there.  Each hall and room have pictures and textures taken from the wildly extravagant annual Fiesta Coronation ball dresses, and event held at the St. Anthony for many years now.  The rooms have more muted colors–grays, blacks, and dark woods–with pops of emerald green, the favorite accent color of Dorothy Draper who redesigned the hotel in the 1950s.

Perhaps the best of the upgrades?  The beds and linens.  I slept incredibly well during my stay … and I nearly refused to get dressed after cuddling up in the robes and towels.  Luckily, I had meetings to get me out of the room or I may still be there.

The hotel’s long, opulent lobby overlooks Travis Park and is absolutely stunning.  The piano that was once played twice daily when the hotel was first built has recently been reacquired and it’s back resting in the lobby under the lavish chandeliers that adorn the length of the lobby.  Throughout we see the Draper green and furniture that’s a perfect marriage of old world, antique furniture and modern pieces.

New amenities include a heated pool overlooking Downtown (complete with cabanas and a full bar), a new, incredible restaurant, Rebelle (full review coming soon), and a craft cocktail bar, Haunt.  Haunt offers some unique cocktails named after the chimeras that roam the halls (and bathrooms and libraries) of the more than century old hotel along with some less complicated options.

The service throughout the hotel was impeccable, from the room service to the valet and hospitality at the restaurants and bars.  Everything was clean, well kept, and tidy.  (Confession: I usually carry Lysol cloths and wipe down a room upon checking in, but I didn’t feel the need this time.  Saves some time, for sure.)

My favorite hotel indulgence is morning room service and spending a lazy morning wallowing in bed.  The food arrived faster than expected and it was all perfect (and surprisingly less expensive than other setups I’ve enjoyed).  Humblebrag, but actually true … I think the croissant was perhaps the best one I’ve eaten since I lived in Paris.

With rates starting around $200, the location and overall experience can’t be beat.  I’m personally looking forward to a return visit … especially once the spa that’s slated for later in 2017 opens.


The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel
thestanthonyhotel.com
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300 East Travis Street
San Antonio, TX, 78205
(210)227-4392 | Reservations: (866)716-8136

***Many thanks to The St. Anthony for hosting me!***

“Surprise I’m Drunk” tank: Friday + Saturday, sold out at ShopRiffRaff.com, similar at buymebrunch.com


MY COMPLETE SAN ANTONIO GUIDE

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San Antonio Cocktail Conference 2016

One should ever stop improving his craft … or drinking.  For that reason, a very special group of people come together each January to talk booze, learn about industry trends, raise money for a worthy cause, and celebrate all-things cocktail at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.  Oh … and go to plenty of parties.  (So many parties.)

You can find the basics on my recap of last year’s SACC, but this year was a completely different experience.  First, I was over my fan-girl stage after meeting some of my favorite distillers/authors/bar(wo)men I’ve admired.  Second, I knew a bit more than to attempt to go the whole weekend without Gatorade or heartburn meds and only eating at events.  (You live, you learn.)  I also learned that, if you want to experience this the right way, you jump in head first … and take a running start.

THE HIGHLIGHTS:

I got whisk(ey)ed away.  If you read my stuff, you know I’m a fan of Tullamore D.E.W. (a.k.a. Tully*), so I was delighted to be invited to the seminar “Five Cocktails that Changed Irish Whiskey Forever” led by Tully’s U.S. brand ambassador, Tim Herlihy, and badass barman Stephen Halpin.  They waxed poetic about the origins of the drinks, mixed each up so we could try them out, and provided color commentary about whiskey and Irish drinking traditions … and, of course, led us in a few toasts.  The five cocktails here: Irish coffee (invented in an airport in 1942 … really?), the hot toddy, the high ball, the Pickleback, and the Irish Car Bomb.  (Needless to say, I was useless waste of space for the four hours following this seminar.)

I ate all the tacos.  (Not kidding, actually.)  My cohorts and I somehow ended up as stowaways on the annual Tito’s Vodka Taco Bus Tour alongside my spirit animal, David Alan, a.k.a. the Tipsy Texan.  We made a few taco stops, our bus got pulled over (as one does), and we drank vodka … lots of vodka.

I learned some things.  I had the opportunity to see my friend, Kevin of the Cocktail Enthusiast, talk about his time touring Cuba and experiencing their classic cocktails (you know, purely for journalistic reasons).  CZCT7F8UsAAKH-YNew 30th birthday trip plan: create my Cuba travel guide!  Other nuggets of knowledge picked up: how to make an authentic hurricane, bright yellow, super fast Camaros are super fun to drive (see my ride to SA on the right … thanks to Chevy!), and don’t wait to book your hotel.

If you’re at all interested in spirits, the history of cocktails, the bar industry and what makes it tick, etc., check out the SACC and attend a seminar or two.  This year they even had a yoga class and a seminar entitled “The Cocktails of Ian Fleming & James Bond”.  Awesome, no?  Since I got in later than I’d hoped, I wasn’t able to attend as many educational seminars as I’d hoped.  (Missed: “The Physiology of the Shake“, “Discovering Sotol“, and a seminar on politics and booze.)

BONUS: most of the seminars provide “hands-on” experiences.  Read: booze.

I drank tequila.  If you know me, this is unique.  I can appreciate a good agave spirit, but when it’s paired with chocolate … I appreciate it more.  Milagro Tequila’s JP De Loera teamed up with local restaurant Lüke to create incredible pairings of anejos and chocolates and talked participants through each–the flavors of each tequila and chocolate and why they work together.

I partied for a good cause.  The SACC is actually put on by Houston Street Charities.  A portion of the proceeds are divided amongst various children’s charities in the San Antonio region and they even host a service day during the SACC!

I explored Alamo City.  I did my best to walk everywhere.  (I believe that’s the best way to get to know a city.)  The San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau is a great resource for fun things to do, attractions, maps, hotel discounts, etc..

Stay up on all the SACC news on their website or social channels.  I hope to see you there next year!


SAN ANTONIO COCKTAIL CONFERENCE

sanantoniococktailconference.com
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2017 dates: January 11-15

*If you follow me on Snapchat … you also know this is my dog‘s name.  🐶

Honorable mention to the brunch setup for the hangover brunch I wasn’t able to eat at on Sunday!

San Antonio Cocktail Conference 2015 Recap & 2016 Teaser

Each January Texas’ most talented mixologists (and those of us that just really appreciate their craft) gather in Alamo City to learn about new cocktail trends and enjoy some general alcohol-fueled merriment … all while raising money for a great cause!  Think seminars, cocktail demonstrations, liquor tastings, pairing dinners, parties … really, just all the best things.  This year will be the fifth San Antonio Cocktail Conference (SACC) and will take place January 14-17 at the newly renovated St. Anthony Hotel … and you can be part of it.

sacc logo

I mentioned the charity aspect … which the bar industry seems to be all about.  The SACC donates 100% of its profits to Houston Street Charities and actually raised $115,000 in 2015 for The Children’s Shelter, ChildSafe, HeartGift San Antonio and Transplants for Children.  Isn’t drinking for a good cause the best way to drink?

The only thing that comes close to rivaling the amazing cocktails slung at the SACC is the food that keeps attendees (close enough to) sober during the festivities.  From sampling at the opening event at the Majestic by local restaurants to oyster shooters at the Houston Street Stroll (which is not to be missed), the food is as almost as clever as the libations they accompany.

This year’s schedule will offer the usual seminars on everything from  the usual industry-focused panels to complex cocktail concepts.  (Be careful … you could end up with five drinks in front of you before 10am … you know, purely for “research” purposes.)  Some of the sessions that I won’t be missing this year include:

While the edification is important, one must not neglect the parties.  (Because people in the bar industry somehow have some terrifying ability to drink until 4am and be fresh alive at 9am to lead their sessions.)  All evening events include cocktails (obvi), amazing local eats, and live music.

Photo Jan 17-3

While i’ve only attended one year, I will be posting a few tips on how to best experience the SACC.  Stay tuned!

Join the fun this year and purchase your ticket now!  If you can’t make it but want to support Houston Street Charities, go ahead and donate!