Liquor is poured into a giant punch bowl on the patio at Lüke. Photo by Scott Ball.
A bartender pours liquor into a punch bowl at the 2016 San Antonio Cocktail Conference. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The sixth annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference (SACC) will attract bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts alike with a series of boozy events, guided tastings, and seminars aimed at celebrating their craft and exploring the culture surrounding the age-old profession of tending bar.

The 2017 edition of the popular event, which kicks off Jan. 11, has added a fifth day to its schedule.

The conference will feature 49 local, national, and international presenters who will guide attendees through bartending, branding, distillation, tricks of the trade, and other topics, in locales throughout the city’s urban core. Multiple-event passes start at $450; tickets for individual events, starting at $45, can also be purchased. Click here for a full list of presenters and here to purchase tickets.

New to this year’s schedule are two new pop-up bars at Studio 109 on 115 E. Travis St., Houston Street Charities Executive Director Cathy Siegel, the conference’s organizer, told the Rivard Report Tuesday.

“A bar from Chicago, Presidio, will pop up Thursday night from 10 p.m.-1 a.m., and on Friday night we have Dear Irving from New York coming to do a pop-up at that space also from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.,” Siegel said.

No ticket is needed to visit the pop-ups, she said. Guests can simply walk in and purchase cocktails.

Beginning Jan. 6, 15 local restaurants will host paired paired dinners featuring cocktails crafted by spirits brand ambassadors and designed to pair with dishes prepared by local chefs. Participating restaurants include Mixtli, Supper, Grayze, Botika, Chisme, Lüke, FOLC, and more.

Houston Street Charities, which organizes the conference, donates 100% of its profits to local children’s charities. This year the Children’s Shelter, Clarity Child Guidance Center, and TEAMability will receive funds, Siegel said.

Executive Director of Houston Street Charities Cathy Siegel (right) and Scott Becker of Bohanan's enjoy a cup of coffee. Photo by Scott Ball.
Houston Street Charities Executive Director Cathy Siegel (right) and Scott Becker of Bohanan’s enjoy a cup of coffee. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

“Each year we choose children’s charities to support,” she said. “It’s a good thing for downtown San Antonio and a good thing for the cocktail and food industry in San Antonio, but it’s the best because we get to support children’s causes.”

Although similar cocktail events take place across the country, San Antonio’s conference was the first of its kind in Texas. Its charity model is what sets it apart from other conferences. Since its inception, the conference has donated more than $400,000 to benefit children’s charities, according to Siegel.

“I can tell you that we have so many returning guests each year but our reputation and word of our conference has spread so widely that we have so many new visitors each year,” Siegel said. “It’s not only locals trying their first hand at craft cocktails and longtime cocktail aficionados who want to enjoy the parties, but also people that come to San Antonio specifically to attend the SA Cocktail Conference.”

Last year’s event honored conference co-founder Sasha Petraske, a prominent bartender and entrepreneur who died suddenly at age 42 in 2014 at his home in Hudson, N.Y. Bohanon’s hired him to train its bar staff in the craft of bartending and pass on his unique approach to classic cocktails.

Petraske’s widow, Georgette Moger-Petraske, will host a seminar and book signing on Saturday Jan. 14 for her recent book Regarding Cocktails, a memoir and celebration of her late husband’s legacy in the spirits and cocktail world.

This year’s SACC signature cocktail is The High-Jinx! Crafted by the staff at The Bar at Bohanan’s on Houston Street, the drink is meant to be easy and approachable. The High-Jinx! will be available at the bar leading up to the conference.

Another event attendees won’t want to miss – and one that has become a permanent part of the SACC calendar – is Women Shaking it Up: Cookies & Cocktails, a night dedicated to recognizing women bartenders, chefs, and others who are “shaking it up” in business, civic leadership, sports, and other arenas. The event, which will take place Jan. 11 at Plaza Juarez in La Villita from 7:30-10 p.m., will benefit the Girl Scouts of Southwest TexasTickets for that individual event are $65.

To learn more about the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, click here.

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Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...