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At the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, there are thousands of drinks served at the events and classes over the course of the weekend. So that begs the question, who’s the person on the hook for making all these drinks to be served to such a discerning crowd?
Meet Chris Ware, the guy behind the forthcoming Paramour bar on the rooftop of the Phipps Cavazos law firm building.
Ware was once part of the Bohanan’s crew that was the original engine behind the Cocktail Conference four years ago, and he has seen the event grow in leaps and bounds.
“The Cocktail Conference has gone from being a one-bedroom operation to being a 30-story hotel. The first year, it was pretty much the entire Bohanans crew and bar staff — that initial group of guys are running a lot of the good bar programs and restaurants in the city now,” Ware said.
This is the fourth year that he will take the back-of-the-house kitchen manager post — essentially being responsible for all the preparation and creation of the drinks that goes out to the attendees.
“We take a prep space — basically a room — and turn it into a large production facility for cocktails. We’ll take a normal cocktail, like a gimlet or a martini, and we’ll prep everything in that room and make a ginormous batch,” he said. He and his team must ensure that the drink quality is 100% correct before they’ll send them out to a class or nighttime event.
A typical class might have three drinks served to the attendees, and there could be a range of 30 to 40 available cocktails at one of the night parties, Ware said. This means that on any given day, his team will be preparing about 100 different types of drinks to a tune of between 4,000 and 5,000 servings.
“We’re trying to be extremely conscientious for what brand we’re doing it for and who is giving the class or putting the event so that their spirit is highlighted. It is a fun job but very stressful,” Ware says.
While he doesn’t have the time to attend very many classes, Ware gets a unique education behind the scenes in the prep room.
“By looking at all the recipes, exchanging emails, and being able to talk with (the presenters), it really lets you walk away each year with a whole new idea of where you want your bar or restaurant to go. It is like a reset button.”
The city can look forward to what Ware does with all this insider information at his soon-to-open bar. While it was slated to open earlier in October, different permitting requirements have delayed it to a mid-January opening — hopefully in time for the closing Cocktail Conference party.
Paramour literally means an illicit lover, and Ware said he hopes that his establishment will serve as his patron’s mistress when they need to get away. With more than 1,500 spirits available and a bar staff composed of many Bohanans vets, folks will certainly fall in love with the forthcoming 8,000-square-foot bar. “You’re going to see a very well-meshed team – a properly trained cocktail staff that can answer questions and facilitate any needs you have.”
Ware’s passion for educating the public is one that has roots in the original Bohanans staff, and it has continued throughout many cocktail bars in the city. This same ethos is the driving force behind the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, and Ware will be serving it up by the thousands over the course of the event.
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*Featured/top image: Chris Ware of Paramour pours a mixed white Russian at a benefit for the Landa Library Branch. Photo by Scott Ball.