Attendees enjoy food and drinks at "Women Shaking it Up." Photo by Lea Thompson.
Attendees enjoy food and drinks at "Women Shaking it Up." Photo by Lea Thompson.

The San Antonio Cocktail Conference served up food, drinks and a glimpse into the lives of local female bartenders in the industry during the “Women Shaking It Up” event held at La Villita on Wednesday night.

The event kicked off with the screening of “Women of the Tin,” mini-documentary produced by local bartender and entrepreneur Jeret Peña and production company Kindform, that featured three local, influential female bartenders: Karah Carmack of Paramour, Elisabeth Forsythe of Barbaro and Hillary Woodhouse of Esquire Tavern.

“San Antonio is a bit behind the times,” Woodhouse said of the local market in the documentary. “(Women like) Elisabeth and Karah probably made it easier for us.”

Event attendees snacked on popcorn and sipped Sicilian coolers as they watched the film, often cheering and laughing at the dialogue between the women and Peña.

All three women said there was room for new talent and growth in the local craft cocktail industry. San Antonio is becoming known as a cocktail destination, they said, thanks in part to the Cocktail Conference.

The women joined Peña joined onstage after the film for an audience Q&A session, where they described the difference in service expectations and why they’re optimistic about leaving their mark on the local cocktail scene. 

“The surge of female bartenders in the industry is when you saw who was going to be a career bartender,” Forsythe said.

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Women Shaking Up the Norm

The second part of the event featured the “best of the best” foods by female Chefs including: Cariño Cortez of Viva Villa, Heather Nañez of Bohanan’s, and Brooke Smith of Esquire Tavern. Drinks were created and served by local female bartenders and brand representatives.

Attendees danced, mingled and enjoyed music from local DJ Dallas Williams as they sampled duck quesadillas, foie gras and bubbly drinks.

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Signage for the event featured photographs and quotes from 10 strong female leaders in San Antonio including Mayor Ivy Taylor, City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Bexar County Sheriff Susan Palmereau.

At La Villita last night, Palmereau recalled her days in the U.S. Air Force, when most women were expected to marry and remain at home.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘When I get to that point in my career, I’m going to mix it up. Why do things have to be done the way they’ve always been done?’” she said. “It’s (about) responding to people, whether its empathy or directness – (women) bring different skills, approaches, talents and personalities.”

The 2016 conference benefits local children’s charities, including Girls Inc. San Antonio, which aims to empower and inspire young girls. The official conference events will kick off Thursday evening at the Majestic.

*Top image: Attendees enjoy food and drinks at “Women Shaking it Up.” Photo by Lea Thompson.

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Lea Thompson is a Texas native who has lived in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. She enjoys exploring new food and culture events. Follow her adventures on Instagram, Twitter or Culture Spoon.