SA Spirits: How Cocktail Conference has grown to become one of top festivals in country

Proceeds benefit children's charities

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator

SAN ANTONIO - Now in its eighth year, the San Antonio Cocktail Conference continues to shake up the alcoholic beverage and food industry across the Alamo City.

The conference has grown from two parties at Bohanans Prime Steaks and Seafood to a nearly weeklong event that features some of the finest spirits and foods across the country.

“Now it’s six days and 10,000 tickets issued. It’s an amazing festival, one of the biggest ones in the country,” said Cathy Siegel, executive director. “People that have been to the conference before will see that it has grown so much. People that have never been will be blown away.”

Siegel has been with the conference from the start and said aside from the conference's growth, its primary goal is to benefit nonprofits in the area.

“We’re about helping children and in the seven years we’ve been doing this, we’ve given away almost $600,000 to children’s charities,” Siegel said.

This year’s cocktail conference features a full slate of seminars, dinner pairings and new events, including the Women Shaking It Up event, which recognizes women who are becoming leaders in the industry. It has also spread to different venues to showcase everything the city has to offer.

“It really highlights that San Antonio is coming up in the bar world and the food world,” said Jen Keyser, brand ambassador for Jack Daniels.

Keyser is participating in her fourth San Antonio Cocktail Conference and believes the city is on the map when it comes to the alcoholic beverage industry.

“I think a lot of people pass up San Antonio for larger cities like Houston, Dallas or Austin, so it’s really great for San Antonio to highlight what it's good at, which is a lot.” 

As the conference continues to expand, Siegel said it will not forget its roots and the people that made the event what it is now. 

"I describe (the) San Antonio Cocktail Conference like I would describe San Antonio,” said Siegel. “It’s really a wonderful city that has so much culture and so many wonderful things and yet it still feels like the San Antonio I grew up in.”

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