SAN ANTONIO -

Drinks in hand, hundreds of cocktail connoisseurs spanned several stories of the Majestic Theatre Thursday night for the opening gala of the 2014 San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

The historical venue's ornate landings transformed into a festival of taverns, where spirits flowed from the hands of dozens of bartenders at 25 impromptu craft cocktail bars.

Ambassadors of select spirit brands served up their own signature drinks, from a Dr. Pepper and Shellback Spiced Rum mixture called the "Jolly Pepper" to a chocolate bitters and Dulce Vida Organic Tequila concoction dubbed the "Viejo". I'm a whiskey and spice kind of girl, so my personal favorite was the Royito's Whiskey Sour, featuring Clyde May's Conecuh Ridge Whiskey and Royito's Hot Sauce.

At $100 a ticket, yes, the event is pricey. But when you consider the sheer amount of quality food and booze, not to mention the fee goes to benefit ChildSafe and HeartGift of San Antonio, you are getting your money's worth. The lines were short, the crowds were well-behaved, and the fare was delectable.

San Antonio Chef Jason Dady had set up a table featuring a Thai brisket from his new Asian restaurant, Umai Mi at The Alley on Bitters Road. Max's Wine Dive served up its famous stuffed pepper. The Friendly Spot provided a meatball slider with goat cheese that was out of this world. Several tables provided indulgent sweets and this list went on and on.

With this veritable smorgasbord of booze and bites, you could easily go overboard. So pacing yourself is key.

Toward the end of the evening, an auction was held to benefit ChildSafe and HeartGift, with the prices of items climbing into the thousands.

The drinking, dining, and partying continues Friday with Texas Spirits Night -- and you can bet I'll be there.

The event launches from the Weston Centre with cocktails hosted by Remy-Cointreau. Guests will board barges and travel via the San Antonio River to the Pearl Brewery for a showcase of 11 Texas brands presented by some of San Antonio’s finest craft cocktail bars. Live music will be provided by The Rick Cavender Band and chefs from restaurants around the Pearl will dish up their own twists on elevated bites.

Free parking is available at the Weston Centre Parking Garage (entrance on Soledad).