Saturday’s Craft Cocktails Texas Seminars Were a Hit or Miss

In celebration of Craft Cocktails Texas week, I ventured over to The Stoneleigh Hotel Saturday morning for the Texas Craft Spirits seminar, another on astrology and mixology, and to see what was being shaken, stirred, muddled and blended in the tasting room. Unfortunately, I only ended up attending one class all day because two had been canceled.

Balcones Distillery President Chip Tate and his Texas Single Malt Whiskey.

I arrived at the spirits seminar to find Chip Tate, President and Head Distiller of Balcones Distillery in Waco, in an empty room chatting with one other industry guru. He informed me that the class had been canceled, but he was happy to provide some information and a taste of some of his current projects that won’t hit store shelves for a few more months. Balcones prides itself on trying to establish new styles of whiskey. Rather than sticking to the standard, they do a bit of experimenting with the type of wood they distill in. I tasted two of the several single malt pulls from minimum 24-month yard-aged Slovakian Oak barrels. My favorite of the two greeted me with the warm aromas of vanilla and honey and finished with flavors of spice and tropical fruit.

My stomach sufficiently warmed by whiskey, I headed downstairs to explore the tasting room only to find that it, too, had been canceled (probably due to low attendance). So far, Craft Cocktails Texas wasn’t looking so hot.

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Midday arrived and the stars aligned in favor of a lively Mixology Meets Astrology class with Intoxicated Zodiac founder Gwen Sutherland Kaiser and Zodiac Spirits CEO Tom Benson. Zodiac Spirits makes two products, a standard unflavored potato vodka, and its black cherry counterpart.

Tom Benson and Gwen Sutherland Kaiser joined forces to present Mixology Meets Astrology

Kaiser has merged her experience as a mixologist and knowledge of astrology to create a collection of cocktail recipes tailored to the tastes of each zodiac sign. All libations were crafted with consideration for each sign’s ruling planet. As an Aquarius, I must share a cocktail with Capricorn since we also share Saturn as a ruling planet. The Aquarius and Capricorn cocktail, named the Saturn Return, is a concoction of black tea, vodka, maple syrup and liquid smoke, garnished with orange peel. While I found the leafy dryness of the tea with a subtle infusion of citrus combined with the smokiness to be an interesting melding of flavors, they were an assertive enough combination that they swallowed the maple whole, reducing its contribution to a source of sugar. This Aquarius would call it a miss, as it just had too many strong flavors competing for your attention for any of them to really sit well on your palate. After some discussion, we all agreed that this cocktail would be better served hot.

Cancer’s cocktail, the New Moon Eclipse, was the biggest crowd pleaser of the bunch. Several requests could be heard for seconds on this delightfully refreshing amalgamation of vodka, muddled mint leaves, lemon juice, agave nectar, pomegranate, and pineapple juice shaken over ice and served in a glass rimmed with pink Himalayan sea salt.

Whether or not you’re a firm believer in Astrology, the class provided a great crash-course in mixology and some creative drink recipes that are easy enough to make in any home kitchen. All recipes can be found on the Intoxicated Zodiac website.

14 comments on “Saturday’s Craft Cocktails Texas Seminars Were a Hit or Miss

  1. Saturday was a beast! Unfortunately we didn’t sell any tickets to Chip’s class or have the man power to work the tasting room on Saturday. Brian and I forecasted this issue and tried to solve it early but without the man power it was difficult. We were very fortunate to have volunteers from the Young at Heart, which we were trying to raise money for in conjunction with our non-profit the North Texas Chapter of the USBG, but the USBG Competition and Festival at Main Street Gardens on Saturday consumed all of our resources.
    However, I spoke with a few people that attended Gwens’ class afterwards at the park and they loved it.
    This was our first year and we did make a few minor mistakes but overall Craft Cocktails Texas was a success.
    I want to thank the American Heart Association, Young at Heart, North Texas Chapter, Austin Chapter and Houston Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild, Stoneleigh Hotel, San Antonio Cocktail Conference and all of the great bartenders that came out to support their movement. We will see you next year. Cheers!

  2. What we learned from Craft Cocktails Texas is how easy it is to snooker a bunch of people and the Entertainment Media, in DFW.

    The dysfunctional nature of this Event was evident long before Tickets went on sale; speaking of which, if you purchased the VIP Pass, who exactly do you take to Court because of all the cancellations?

    You don’t have to peel too many layers of the Onion, in researching the background of those behind this Event, before you realize how ill-equipped they were to take on such an undertaking. Compound this with the disjointed North Texas Chapter of the USBG, and bam, you have ruined any future chances to promote the progress in Craft Cocktail, in DFW.

  3. When Michael Martensen was so obviously NOT involved, I figured there was something very weird going on – or, probably NOT going on.

  4. Kosmas’ talk on Friday was well-attended and a lot of fun. I took away a great deal of useful info.

  5. This is interesting. Good report followed by one of the organizers even saying they had problems. But Steven Doyle wrote a blow job on the event saying the “this event go off unhitched”. Is Doyle on their payroll?

  6. hey enthusiastic cockatil person…i think its sad to attempt to discredit other peoples efforts. I think tales only had 100 people maybe its first year…your not foolin anybody…cheers.

  7. and i had a freakin blast at the party Thursday!! thank you for that event!!

  8. Enthusiastic drinker we had only one cancellation.
    Joeat who wants to sue? We only sold 3 VIP passes to all 4 days. We gave the other 247 all away in efforts to promote our cocktail culture and the movement. Noticed how I said “our” in the last sentence. Yea, I’ve been bartending in this city since 1996 what about you?
    Quick question: Who puts a 4 day cocktail week together and works 3 jobs effortlessley just to promote a culture they believe to be great?
    Who drives around the city on a mission to get bartenders that share the same passion under one roof?
    Who is going to throw 2 more events this year and invite everyone to come out and have some fun?
    Someone with passion. A person with heart. A man with a vision. Nico Ponce- Smile and live a little, life is to short to waste on this bullshit. I’m out!

  9. Well, I founded ROXOR Artisan Gin, and I must admit, I was one of the last sponsors to join the Craft Cocktails Tx. Truth is, I didn’t know how well it was organized, and how it would come off.
    Reality for me … I thought the event was GREAT … yes a little disorganized, but it was the first year. My wife and I worked hard and shared our gin with a lot of Dallas-ites. Everyone seemed pleased to try ROXOR.
    We watched Nico and Bryan work like crazy to keep everyone happy and the party rolling.
    As importantly, I sponsored this event because I wanted to support the Guild and the craft cocktail movement. All the bartenders in the region need to be united, if this movement is to be sustained.
    As a Houstonian, it was nice to enjoy the cocktail glitz of Big D. Thanks Nico and Bryan.

  10. @Nico Ponce who in the wold said anything about suing? Where did that come from? My point was, and you did not address it, and probably could not, is trying to pull off such an event in Dallas with out Michael. Perhaps, this proves it.

  11. I wanted to echo Don’s comments. I am the owner and founder of Zodiac Vodka and while the event had its challenges, I was very pleased with the quality of attendees that I had the opportunity to meet and interact with. This is a great venue for small, quality brands that don’t always get the mainstream recognition they deserve. I know Nico, Brian and the volunteers worked extremely hard to make this happen. A lot of lessons were learned and this event will be much better for it on the next go round. I am looking forward to returning next year. (And Erin – thanks for the great report on the Zodiac seminar!)

  12. This is entertaining. Why feel the need to justify your work too those who were involved? Roll up your sleeves and work and if you get reconized for it great if not you work even harder the next day. Wish I was in town to see it all happen. Congrats to those involved!

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