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.
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). New 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!
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!