We’ve got about one month to go before bartenders, spirits makers and cocktail aficionados flood into San Antonio for the four-day San Antonio Cocktail Conference (SACC), a mix of seminar classes, dinners and big evening events that both brings all of Texas’ craft cocktail scenes into one city and raises money for a variety of nonprofits, including The Children’s Shelter, ChildSafe, HeartGift San Antonio and Transplants for Children.
The conference, going on its fourth year, has thus far donated more than $240,000 to these nonprofits and others through Houston Street Charities, an organization created to oversee the giving side of the SACC.
It’ll run from Jan. 15 through 18 this year in much the same way it has in the past. You’ll buy tickets for all the classes and events you want to attend, rather than for the SACC as a whole, which features far too many drinking opportunities and overlapping events for one person to go to and do. With so much to choose from, that creates the trickiest part of the long weekend: scheduling it. But I’m offering suggestions and tips here based off the SACC’s schedule and my own experience at last year’s.
- A variety of paired dinners at various San Antonio bars and restaurants take place the week before.
- If you’re wanting to attend a class (a lot of them are filled with industry-related folks wanting to improve their knowledge of current trends and skills about running a bar or making good cocktails), note that some of them are at the same times throughout Friday and Saturday. I’m relieved that some of the ones I’m interested in, such as Friday’s seminar about terroir and Saturday’s about mezcal, don’t conflict with each other, but there’s definitely the possibility that you might have a tough choice to make.
- In addition to the classes on Friday and Saturday, there are two big events on each of those nights. The Stroll on Houston Street returns this year, but Waldorf on the Prairie at the St. Anthony Hotel (“a unique blend of old New York Edwardian-era decor and romance and old Texas charm,” according to the SACC website) is new. Other event options throughout the weekend include the Annual SACC Original Cocktail Competition on Sunday afternoon, when bartenders will go head to head with their own recipes.
- Saturday’s Tasting Room is free with the purchase of any SACC ticket or with a $20 donation to Houston Street Charities at the door. It’s going to have a variety of spirits and cocktails for you to taste, so beware your limits.
- Beer also makes an appearance. The Friendly Craft Beer Break on Saturday afternoon is, like the tasting room, free with the purchase of any SACC ticket or a donation to the Houston Street Charities.
- Conference organizers recommend downloading the SACC’s magazine “Cocktail Journals” in advance. The January issue will serve as a guide to the festivities, with maps, interviews, special appearances and more. Get it free from iTunes or the Google Play Store.