Cocktails with a Cause: The San Antonio Cocktail Conference

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine told me he was volunteering at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.  I was intrigued.. this sounded like a great volunteer opportunity – especially if appreciation was paid in cocktails!  I checked out the website and learned that the four-day event was modeled on the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail event.  Yay – a little bit of the big city right here in San Antonio!   And the best part is that the event benefits HeartGift, a group of surgeons, pediatric cardiologists, medical personnnel, volunteers, and host families dedicated to providing life-saving heart surgery to disadvantaged children living in developing countries.

Many of the events seemed more geared to the “pros” and people in the industry, but a few of the classes were appropriate for “newbies” like us.  We decided on the “Building a Better Bloody Mary” class taught by Kerrin Egalka, a Mixologist Portfolio Manager for Moet Hennessy in New York (what a super cool job!).


The course description read, “Ms. Egalka will guide the audience through the traditional and contemporary variations on the world’s most beloved breakfast libation.”  And that she did!  We started out with a brief history on the Bloody Mary.  We then moved into a taste test of a good, better and best Bloody Mary. (I will post the recipe list one of these days!)   We learned two secrets during the class: 1) you don’t need to use the best tomato juice, just juice that’s nice and salty, and 2) worcestershire sauce is a key ingredient.

Our admission to the class included tickets to the Tasting Room, a ballroom full of free samples!  There were quite a few standouts:

Adult Chocolate MilkThe company’s website reads, “Just like mom, the original formulas for these drinks were discovered in the home kitchen of Tracy – one of the company’s founders. After updating her Facebook status to “Tracy is enjoying some Adult Chocolate Milk”, friends began inquiring about the recipe and where they could get it.


Don Q Añejo:The most delicious spiced apple drink was available for my “scientific tasting experiments” at the Tasting Room.  The company’s website says of its Anejo rum, “when we age our Añejo rum, we lose up to 10 percent to evaporation. Compare that to Scotland, which loses only two percent to the so-called “Angel’s Share”. Aged in American White Oak barrels from three to five years, Añejo offers a bouquet and mouthfeel that rum experts find…well…intoxicating.”  Yes, intoxicating indeed.


Royal Combier WAY better than Grand Marnier!  The company’s US website describes Royal Combier as “a harmonious blend of Original Combier, V.S.O.P. cognac and Elixir Combier (one of the most famous of all French hygienic liqueurs since its creation by Jean-Baptiste Combier in 1852), Royal Combier Grande Liqueur includes ingredients such as aloe, nutmeg, myrrh, cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron, the result of which is an exotic and complex liqueur best enjoyed cold or in classic and modern cocktails as an orange liqueur substitute for added spice.”

Overall, a great experience.  Next year, we’ll take more than just the one class… and we’ll hit up some of the cocktail parties!!


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