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Raise a Toast: San Antonio Cocktail Conference Returns Jan. 16-19


The San Antonio Cocktail Conference returns for a third year, Jan. 16-19.

The Business  2 ounces Hendrick's Gin 3/4 ounce honey syrup 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice  Place all of the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake until cold and pour into a cocktail class. Garnish with a slice of lime or cucumber, if desired.

The Business 2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin 3/4 ounce honey syrup 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice Place all of the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake until cold and pour into a cocktail class. Garnish with a slice of lime or cucumber, if desired.

This is a chance for cocktail experts, sponsors, aficionados and newcomers to drink and dine together while enjoying tastings, competitions, evening parties and interactive workshops.

And for the third year in a row, all proceeds will benefit charity work on behalf of children in need. This year’s beneficiaries are HeartGift San Antonio and ChildSafe. HeartGift San Antonio is a nonprofit organization that provides life-saving heart surgeries to children from countries where necessary care is unavailable to them. Over the past two years, the Cocktail Conference has raised more than $75,000 for the nonprofit.

As creator of the Cocktail Conference and owner/executive chef of Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, Mark Bohanan is proud to announce this year’s added support of ChildSafe San Antonio — a child advocacy center that specializes in providing services to children who have been abused or neglected. “It’s been a blessing to see this event blossom,” Bohanan says. “Over the past two years, we’ve been able to provide incredible support for HeartGift children who need our help. But this year is extra special because we’ll now be able to donate funds locally to ChildSafe as well.”

The festivities begin Thursday, Jan. 16, with music and cocktails at the beautiful Majestic Theatre. Bartenders traveling from all around the country will mix specialty cocktails crafted from select spirit brands.

Friday, Jan. 17, will play host to a full day of parties and seminars that appeal to cocktail beginners and experts. In the evening, Rio San Antonio Cruises will transport guests to an “All Texas Spirits Night” at Pearl that evening to showcase San Antonio bars in conjunction with all Texas spirits and music from The Rick Cavender Band.

The fun continues Saturday, Jan. 18, with even more seminars for novices and experts alike. Join Bohanan’s and Lüke for a mouthwatering experience at the Stroll on Houston Street soiree where both restaurants will serve up dishes and cocktails. And what’s better than rounding out the day with an after party hosted by The 86 Co. at Empire Theatre with special music by The Spazmatics? Saturday evening will be an extravaganza The 86 Co. won’t let you forget. Come for an exciting night with great flavors and lively music at San Antonio’s premier performing arts facility.

San Antonio Cocktail Conference returns Jan. 16.

San Antonio Cocktail Conference returns Jan. 16.

Wind down the cocktail weekend with a Sunday morning Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by Deep Eddy Vodka at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel with tastings of their three famous spirits, including their fan favorite sweet tea vodka. The final day of Cocktail Conference will also include an exciting cocktail competition plus a closing evening party at The Brooklynite.

Prices vary per event with a couple of Saturday being free. Visit www.sanantoniococktailconference.com for information on the various seminars, the times and the prices.

Events Schedule

Thursday, Jan. 16

  • 7 – 11 p.m. – Opening Gala at the Majestic Theater

Friday, Jan. 17

  • 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Seminars at Sheraton Gunter Hotel
  • 4 – 6 p.m. – Happy Hour and Sherry Slam co-hosted by The Monterey and Virtuoso Selections
  • 6 p.m. – Weston Centre Rio San Antonio Cruises to Pearl
  • 7 – 11 p.m. – Pearl Stable Soiree An “All Texas Spirits Night” with musical guest The Rick Cavender Band
Seminars, tastings and parties fill the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

Seminars, tastings and parties fill the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

Saturday, Jan. 18

  • 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Seminars and tasting rooms at Sheraton Gunter and other participating venues
  • 6 – 10 p.m. – Stroll on Houston Street Bohanan’s and Lüke partner to create an evening menu.
  • 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. – Empire Theatre After Party The 86 Co. hosts spirit-filled party with musical guest The Spazmatics.

Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Bloody Mary Brunch hosted by Deep Eddy Vodka at Sheraton Gunter Hotel
  • 2 p.m. – Movie Screening of “Hey Bartender” at Aztec Theatre
  • 5 – 8 p.m. – Original Cocktail Competition sponsored by William Grant & Sons at Aztec Theatre
  • 8 p.m. – A Tribute to Tequila sponsored by La Margarita
  • 9 p.m. – 1 a.m. – Closing Party: The Brooklynite will throw a closing party

Drive safely.

 

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An Evening of Wedding Cake, Champagne and Charity


Guests enjoy an evening of wedding cake and Champagne at 20nine.

A perfect San Antonio evening, with a gentle breeze, was made even more memorable Tuesday when six of the city’s best bakers gathered at 20nine in the Quarry, 255 E. Basse Road, for a charity event.

Red velvet wedding cupcakes from Kate’s Frosting.

In the spotlight was the winning combination of wedding cake in a number of flavors and sweet Champagnes, sparkling and bright but with enough sugar to go with the cake.

Among the bakers were:

  • Cynthia Gallagher
    Cakes & More Bake Shop
    5525 Blanco Road, (210) 494-3959
    Champagne Cake with a Strawberry Crème Filling
  • Cathy Young
    Cakes by Cathy Young
    1250 Pinyon Hill, (210) 481-9294
    White cake with vanilla buttercream icing
  • Lynn Townsend
    Choco Patisserie
    13523 Nacogdoches Road,(210) 646-7212
    Yellow cake with passion fruit mousse and fresh raspberries and vanilla buttercream
  • Kate Frost-Feild
    Kate’s Frosting
    2518 North Main Ave., (210) 248-9809
    Cake made with cocoa and buttermilk with a cream cheese frosting
  • Having an outdoor wedding? If the day is warm, the buttercream will melt. But it will taste so good as it does.

    Susie Martinez
    Creations Cakes
    122 N. Bryant St., Pleasanton, (830) 281-3222
    White Cake with White Godiva Liqueur, White Chocolate Cream with a touch of White Godiva Liqueur, Raspberry Puree

  • Elizabeth Chambers
    Bird Bakery
    5912 Broadway, (210) 804-BIRD (2473)
    Sea Salt Caramel Mini-cupcake, Pistachio with Cardamom Butter Cream

Some of the demi-sec Champagnes poured with the cakes included Perrier-Jouet, Nicolas Feuillatte and Mumm.

The money raised by the event will go to HeartGift, a local charity that helps children from around the world with heart defects.

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Wedding Cake and Champagne for a Good Cause


Pairing wedding cake and Champagne is not an easy task. That’s why the folks at 20nine Restaurant & Wine Bar are hosting Champagne Wishes & Wedding Cake Dreams from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at the restaurant in the Quarry, 255 E. Basse Road.

The event is also a fundraiser for HeartGift, a nonprofit that helps children with heart defects, so it’s open to all, whether wedding bells are in your future or you just have a sweet tooth.

Marisa and Troy Fulmer, proprietors of 20Nine, have gathered a roster of creative confectioners to offer tempting tastes of wedding cake paired with French champagnes and California sparking wines.

Wedding cake creators Elizabeth Chambers, Bird Bakery; Kathy Young, Cakes By Kathy Young; Kate Frost-Feild, Kate’s Frosting; Susie Martinez, Creations Cakes and Cynthia Gallagher of Cakes & More are sharing their ingredients with Troy Fulmer, who will pair wines and Champagnes with each of the five wedding cakes based on their confectionery content.

“Committed to wine education and appreciation, we continually pair Chef Scott Boone’s savory selections with wines from more than 60 wines by the glass and over 300 wines by the bottle,” said Troy Fulmer. “So we felt that we could pay homage to some of the great decorative cake makers in our community while pairing select sparkling wines and champagnes that complement their tasty offerings.”

Chef Boone of 20Nine will tempt the tastes of the gathered guests with selections from his new fall menu that will be introduced that evening. “It’s a nice combination of savory and sweet that gives a full interpretation of the meal, whether it is the bride-to-be and her friends gathering for dinner, a rehearsal dinner party or the wedding reception,” said Marisa Fulmer.

Cost to attend Champagne Wishes & Wedding Cake Dreams is $40 a person. The event is limited to 100 guests. For information and reservations call 20nine Restaurant & Wine Bar at (210) 798-9463 or go to www.20ninewine.com.

HeartGift San Antonio brings children from around the world to Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital for free surgery to correct life-threatening heart defects. “They come to us for help because their home countries lack adequate health care,” said Cathy Siegal, director of advancement. “They leave us with repaired hearts – and a new sense of hope for the future.”

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Cocktail Conference Raises $57,000 for HeartGift


Mark Bohanan (right) presents proceeds from the first San Antonio Cocktail Conference to members of HeartGift. (Shane Kyle/CE Group)

Mark Bohanan, owner of Bohanan’s Restaurant and Bar and creator of the first San Antonio Cocktail Conference, recently presented a check for $57,000 to HeartGift San Antonio to support two lifesaving surgeries for children from disadvantaged countries seeking heart surgeries at Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital.

Other businesses who helped sponsor the conference included SoHo Wine & Martini Bar, Ocho Lounge at Hotel Havana, The Esquire Tavern and Rio San Antonio Cruises.

HeartGift is a San Antonio-based charity that provides life-saving heart surgery to children from countries with unavailable or inaccessible health care. Every child chosen receives state of the art pediatric surgery from doctors Dr. John Calhoon and Dr. Adil Husain and their medical staff free of charge.

During the celebration, attendees celebrated HeartGift surgery recipient’s Wang Nan’s fourth birthday, a birthday she may not have seen had it not been for the funds raised through the first-annual cocktail conference, a four-day educational event about spirits that was held in downtown San Antonio in January.

Wang Nan lives in a remote Chinese village in the Gansu Province. Her family lives in a five-room mud house on two acres of land. Although they farm their land, Wang Nan’s father must go to the Xinjiang Province to do construction work for eight months each year to send home money for the family. Wang Nan suffers from Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect. She was operated on Feb. 3 and she returned home with her mother and their San Antonio host family on Feb. 7.

“The inaugural San Antonio Cocktail Conference was a bigger success than any of us could have imagined,” said Bohanan, whose restaurant is at 219 E Houston St. “This donation simply would not have been possible without the countless number of supporters, partners, presenters and attendees that made this a reality. We are thrilled to provide such a significant contribution to HeartGift on behalf of the conference, knowing that it will save the lives of two children in need.”

Boschetto pizza coming to Gallo

Starting Thursday, Gallo Pizzeria, 164 Castroville Road, will be making pizzas with boschetto, white truffles and portobello mushrooms blended with cheese. According to the pizzeria’s Facebook page, “It’s great for Lent.”

The cost is $19.99 for a large and $15.99 for a medium. Supplies are limited. Pre-orders are accepted.

Call (210) 264-0077 or click here.

Sip a sample of the Veneto at Luce

Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road, is showcasing the wines of the Veneto at a special dinner set for 5 p.m. March 10.

Executive chef Joe Buonincontri and Italian wine expert Jeremy Parzen are teaming up for the multi-course meal.

The cost is $50 a person. For reservations, call  (210) 561-9700.

Hoist a beer on Texas Independence Day

High Velocity, one of the dining areas at the JW Marriott resort, 23808 Resort Parkway, is having a  Saint Arnold beer dinner on Texas Independence Day, March 2.

The four-course meal will feature matching beers.

For price, time and reservations, call (210) 276-2500, ext. 5835.

Maggiano’s is giving away dinner for 20

Want to win dinner for 20 of your nearest and dearest?

Registration is now open for the Maggiano’s Little Italy “Who’s In Your 20?” sweepstakes. This is a chance for someone to land a private, Italian-style dinner party with 19 of his or her closest family, friends and co-workers. A dinner will be given out at each of the chain’s 44 restaurants.

Anyone who registers will also receive a coupon for a free flatbread at the restaurant. Registration is open through April 1.

To enter, click here. The San Antonio Maggiano’s is at the Rim, 17603 I-10 W. Call 210-451-6000.

 

 

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The Next Cocktail Conference Is in the Works


The Cocktail Conference returns next January.

The first San Antonio Cocktail Conference so successful that plans are already under way for the next one. Dates have been set for Jan. 24-27, so mark your calendars and get those taxi company numbers ready on your speed-dial.

We already reported that the conference raised enough money to help two children in need of heart surgery under the auspices of the local charity, HeartGift.

But the conference also generated some goodwill for the city.

Colleen Graham from About.com had great things to say about the city, Texas spirits and more in a preliminary review. She promises more in future postings, but it’s great to see some national press finally pick up on what those of us in town already knew: That our food scene is great. She writes: “Though I was in San Antonio for cocktails, I have to say that this city has impressed me beyond many others in my travels when it came to food. Whether it was the quick breakfast or lunch at one of the small delis or dinner on the River Walk or the phenomenal steaks at Bohanan’s, this is a city that knows it’s food. Seriously, go there with an appetite and a thirst and you will not be disappointed.”

For more on the Cocktail Conference, click here.

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Cocktail Conference Shakes It Up for a Good Cause


Rob Gourley of San Antonio makes a Philly Smash with rye, lime, Averna, simple syrup, berries and mezcal at the Esquire Tavern.

By the time the last drop of vodka had been poured, the last cube of ice chipped and the last mint garnish bruised, the inaugural San Antonio Cocktail Conference could be classified a success.

Adrian Sarabia of San Antonio uses Ranger Creek White in his White and Red.

The four-day event, which included everything from what could affectionately be dubbed “booze cruises” along the river to Sunday brunch, attracted hundreds. Several of the seminars, on topic ranging from ice to making cocktails at home, sold out, all offering the promise of a great future for the event.

The best news of all was the event, planned as a fundraiser for the San Antonio charity HeartGift, raised enough money to pay for the costs associated with the heart surgeries of two children from countries where the proper treatment is either unavailable or inaccessible. The surgical fees are donated by the doctors, but there are costs associated with flying the children in and taking care for them during their recuperation.

Houston Eaves of Austin makes a 3-Piece Suit with Fernet, Campari and Punt e Mes.

Saturday brought a cocktail competition in which more than 30 contestants had to prepare an original cocktail that was judged on taste, presentation and execution. The grand prize winner was John Lermayer from the Florida Room in Miami, followed by Jake Corney of Bohanan’s, which is where the contest was held, and Charles Shelton of Austin.

Lermayer named his winning cocktail Have a Heart and promised HeartGift executive director Cathy Siegel that he would be donating some of his winnings to the charity.

Saturday evening brought a crowd of cocktail lovers to the Esquire Tavern. Along the longest bar in Texas, mixologists whipped up specialty drinks that featured drinks such as Texas spirits, including Ranger Creek White and Tito’s Vodka as well as absinthe, mezcal, the Italian vermouth Punt e Mes, and digestifs such as Averna and Campari. Spray cans of bitters were also used by several to finish off their cocktails.

Wonderful flavors, all, and a great reason to raise a toast to a successful launch of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

 

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San Antonio Drinks In Its First Cocktail Conference


Corey Morris mixes cocktails at the launch of the first San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

Can you make a perfectly dry martini? Do you know how to make a margarita that achieves the right balance of natural sweetness and tartness? Do you know how to modify a classic cocktail when using the cucumber-flavored Hendrick’s Gin instead of a regular gin?

The Business 2 ounces Hendrick's Gin 3/4 ounce honey syrup 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice Place all of the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake until cold and pour into a cocktail class. Garnish with a slice of lime or cucumber, if desired.

Anyone who loves a finely crafted cocktail knows that it takes plenty of studying to get the right mix.

But it also begs another question: Can you think of any studies that are more flavorful and more conducive to partying?

That’s the format of the first San Antonio Cocktail Conference, which kicked off Thursday night with, appropriately enough, a cocktail party.

Chef Mark Bohanan, a driving force behind the conference, opened the bar at his Houston Street place to more than 350 cocktail lovers. The crowd  went from the luxurious interior, where a jazz combo kept things lively, to the neighboring patio.

The balmy January evening was perfect for traveling among the various tables where patrons could drink cocktails made with the likes of tequila, vodka, gin, Cognac and Champagne as well as such flavorings as coconut, ginger, lime and honey.

The whole conference is a fund-raiser for HeartGift, a local charity that provides medical assistance to children from around the world in need of heart surgery.

The overflowing crowd put a big smile on Mark Bohanan’s face. It must also be gratifying to know that some of the seminars today and Saturday have sold out. (For a schedule of events, including river cruises, parties at SoHo, Ocho and the Esquire Tavern, and Sunday brunch at the Sheraton Gunter, click here.)

More than 350 fill Bohanan's for the inaugural event of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

Corey Morris, a bartender at Bohanan’s, offered a few tips for making a good cocktail at home:

  • Make sure your ingredients are good. You can taste it when they’re not.
  • Make sure you use good ice. Ice with an off flavor can affect your drink.
  • Don’t shake your drink too much. Ice that melts too soon can water down your drink.

That’s just a taste of what’s to come over the next few days, including sessions in  Forgotten Cocktails, the Wonderful World of Gin and the homegrown Lone Star Cocktails.

While working at Bohanan’s, Morris has studied under several master mixologists, including the internationally regarded Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey. Petraske is just one of the people who will be leading seminars, which means that anyone with passion for making perfect cocktails can learn what bartenders know. Or you can just sit back and absorb the intoxicating atmosphere that’s marking the inaugural cocktail conference.

 

 

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San Antonio Cocktail Conference Premieres


A world of cocktails exists beyond martinis, margaritas and Manhattans. And during the next four days, San Antonio will  be welcoming a host of mixologists, expert bartenders and other libations luminaries to the city. The San Antonio Cocktail Conference is the first of its kind in Texas and will kick off tonight with a splash at the Opening Night Soiree at Bohanan’s, from 7 to midnight.

The San Antonio Cocktail Conference is based on the popular Manhattan Cocktail Classic and New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail. The evenings are devoted to parties, of course, but a full, varied schedule of classes from experts in the business are available throughout the conference.  To see the complete list of events and classes, availability and to register, visit the conference’s website.

Friday will bring the first day of classes to the conference—with 14 seminars dedicated to a variety of lessons in cocktail creation offered at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel throughout the day.

“We are hosting some of the best bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts from across the United States and as far away as Australia and Italy ,” explains Scott Becker , general manager of Bohanan’s Restaurant & Bar. “With this kind of world-class talent, the cocktail education experience is sure to be unmatched.”

 

 

It all goes toward a good time, but there’s also has a higher purpose. It is a benefit for HeartGift, an organization that comprises surgeons, pediatric cardiologists, medical personnel and volunteers, and host families, all dedicated to providing  life-saving heart surgery to disadvantaged children. These are youngsters who live in developing countries where specialized treatment is scarce or nonexistent.

Since its establishment in 2000, HeartGift has helped more than 120 children in 22 countries on five continents. For more information about HeartGift, visit the website by clicking here.

At tonight’s opening event, representatives from a number of brands of spirits will be hosting nine bars, making 18 specialty cocktails. And, look forward to some lively bidding on a Fender Stratocaster autographed by all of the band members of Journey. These proceeds, too, will go to HeartGift.

On Friday, start the party with Rio San Antonio Cruises, which will launch from a tiki party at the El Tropicano Hotel. The boats will serve as taxis, providing cocktails and a ride along the San Antonio River, to and from Soho Wine & Martini Bar and Ocho Lounge at the Havana.

On Saturday, it’s the Original Cocktail Competition, hosted by Fee Brothers Bitters and Red Bull at Bohanan’s; the Esquire Tavern hosts the Saturday Night Soiree. On Sunday, it’s brunch at the Gunther Hotel, sponsored by Cinco Vodka.

Click here for three interesting cocktail recipes to make on your own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Refreshing Watermelon a Trendy Ingredient This Season


Watermelon with strawberries, cilantro pearls and black sesame sponge bread from the RK Group.

What’s not to love about watermelon, especially when it is in season and bursting with refreshing flavor? It’s perfect for a picnic or great alongside a plate of just-grilled meats.

This year, more and more local chefs are using watermelon in salads and entrêes in ways that go far beyond the norm. Chef John Brand of La Mansión del Rio and Ostra on the River Walk served slabs of watermelon alongside hamachi sashimi during a recent Culinaria luncheon at Becker Vineyards, while The Monterey served it in a salad with feta cheese, dried olive and heirloom tomatoes.

The great thing about most of these recipes is that you can make them at home, layering the ingredients mentioned to your taste. Think about a watermelon margarita with a touch of lime, tequila and just a hint of orange liqueur mixed with watermelon juice and ice to your taste.

At a recent fundraiser for HeartGift, five chefs from around the city made various dishes pairing watermelon with everything from jumbo shrimp cocktail with watermelon from Cabo Seafood to a watermelon pavé with cilantro pearls and black sesame sponge cake from the RK Group. Heather Nañez of Bohanan’s seared hamachi and topped with a watermelon salsa, while Patricia Wenckus of Auden’s Kitchen crisped up prosciutto, adding a little salty flavor that the fruit seems to love.

Damien Watel of Bistro Vatel offered up an elegant, easy salad, the recipe for which appears below.

Watermelon margaritas

HeartGift is a San Antonio charity that flies children with congenital heart defects from around the world here so that they can be operated on for free. The event raised $23,000. According to HeartGift executive director Cathy Siegel, “Our spring season of events offered guests an opportunity to participate in a series of fine dining adventures while providing the gift of life-saving heart surgery to a child from a country where treatment is unavailable or inaccessible. With the success of this series of events, we are now able to bring another child to San Antonio for heart surgery.”

For more on HeartGift, click here.

What do you like to do with watermelon? Add a cube or two to a vodka martini? Serve it with fried shrimp? Smoke it in your barbecue pit? (It has been done.) Post your favorite ideas below.

Damien Watel’s Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

Watermelon cubes, to taste
Ripe tomatoes, cut into pieces similar in size to the watermelon, to taste

Damien Watel's Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

Crumbled feta cheese, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
Rice wine vinegar, to taste
Basil or flat-leaf parsley, to taste
Salt, to taste (optional)

Mix watermelon and tomatoes. Sprinkle feta on top. Drizzle olive oil and a touch of rice wine vinegar. Garnish with some microgreen herbs, such as basil, or finely chopped basil or parsley, to taste. Salt, if desired.

Adapted from Damien Watel

 

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