“If you think San Antonio’s cocktail culture ended with Prohibition, guess again. Cocktails will take center stage when some of the rock stars of the craft descend upon the city for the San Antonio Cocktail Conference.
“The first of its kind in Texas, the conference features seminars, classes, competitions and parties Jan. 26-29 that will showcase techniques, brands and personalities.
“Organized by restaurateur and chef Mark Bohanan of Bohanan’s Restaurant and Bar, this conference has garnered national attention because of its co-creator, cocktail expert Sasha Petraske, and because of its business model, which calls for donating all proceeds to HeartGift San Antonio. The organization provides life-saving surgery to children in countries where they would not otherwise have access to the care they need.” Read full article.
Plan now to be a part of this groundbreaking San Antonio event! Purchase your all access pass >>here.
One of my favorite hangouts is also one of the giants of the San Antonio cocktail scene. The Bar at Bohanan’s [ Facebook | Twitter | Yelp ] is a pet project of Mark Bohanan of Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, whose award-winning restaurant sits above the bar. Its location at 221 East Houston Street downtown — almost directly across from the Majestic Theatre and near downtown hotels — makes it a popular choice for theater-goers, conventioneers and locals alike.
The Bar at Bohanan's click to enlarge
Launched in 2009, the Bar at Bohanan’s specializes in hand-crafted pre-Prohibition cocktails. Sasha Petraske of NYC’s famed speakeasy Milk and Honey developed the menu and trained the staff in the art of the cocktail. His influence continues today; from time to time he still visits the bar, and continues to consult on the menu.
The ambience of the bar is old-time mens’ club-by. Rows and rows of fine spirits line shelving lit from below and mirrored behind, framed by dark wood paneling. Etched glass windows, old-time lighting fixtures, leather chairs and banquettes, cozy nooks and soft lighting all harmonize to create a warm, comfortable spot in which to share food & cocktails with friends new and old. Friday and Saturday nights are enhanced by excellent live music from the South Texas Jazz Quartet [ Facebook | Twitter ]. Continue reading →
The French 75 The Bar at Bohanan's click to enlarge
With the upcoming French 75 contest at The Esquire, it seems a good time to explore that drink’s history, which is hinted at by the question a bartender who knows her stuff will ask you when you order one: “Cognac or gin?”
The origin of the drink is unclear and disputed. One story suggests that it was created in World War I by French infantrymen. According to this particular story, French officers were allotted an unlimited quantity of Champagne, while the infantry’s share was rationed. To stretch their stock, it is said that the infantrymen would drink Cognac — of which they were allotted an unlimited quantity — with a float of Champagne before going “over the top” to attack the enemy. Continue reading →
The Esquire Tavern will represent San Antonio in a statewide contest to see who can sell the most French 75‘s in one day. Jeret Peña and his staff will go head-to-head with Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, The Cedars Social in Dallas, and Second Bar + Kitchen in Austin.
Jeret issued the following call on Facebook:
“Now for my friends and fellow San Antonians, lets kick butt and win this contest. Starting at 11am on Wednesday Aug 31 we will begin selling French 75 cocktails.”
Visit the Facebook event page to RSVP. Let’s Go San Antonio! See you there! And remember, always drink responsibly.
San Antonio was well represented at the Most Inspired Bartender competition, sponsored by Bombay Sapphire and held in Austin on August 14th. Popular local barkeeps Chris Ware (head bartender at Bohanan’s), Olaf Harmel (Mon Ami) and Mathieu Muckensterm (bar manager at Coco) all participated.
“Harmel, Muckensturm and Ware kept their cool while presenting their drinks to the three judges, who were excited to try Harmel’s Salmonesque cocktail, were intrigued by Muckenturm’s Coco Thai and liked Ware’s Ricky Maurin enough to include it in the top six finalists.”
So, one of my favorite bartenders on the Alamo City cocktail scene plies his trade as head bartender at the Bar at Bohanan’s. I was introduced to Chris Ware before I even moved to San Antonio, and he has since become a friend. Lucky me, eh?
The Rickey Maurin The Bar at Bohanan's click to enlarge
This past weekend, Chris competed in the Bombay Sapphire cocktail competition in Austin. Several San Antonio bartenders pitted their creations against those of other bartenders from all over the state. Chris was the only one to place in the top six. His entry? The “Rickey Maurin,” a Gin Rickey made with Maurin Quina, a cherry-flavored aperitif, with a hint of quinine. Continue reading →
So, what’s in a cocktail? My dictionary defines it thus:
cock·tail |ˈkäkˌtāl| noun an alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or several spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice, lemonade, or cream.
By this definition, a rum & coke is a cocktail. So is a Seven & 7. A Fuzzy Navel, too. But in my book, these are mixed drinks. They definitely aren’t the kinds of cocktails we’re celebrating here at Alamo City Cocktails. Continue reading →