The Story of San Antonio Cocktail Conference:
In San Antonio there is a famous Steak House restaurant called Bohanan’s. It’s been around since 2002. It is on the second floor of a building directly across the street from the Orpheum Theater.
Years ago there was a bar in on the first floor of the building below Bohanan’s.This bar was unrelated to Bohanan’s with separate ownership.In 2008, this bar went out of business and Mr. Bohanan decided he would take over that space and have a bar of his own.
Mr. Bohanan realized that this bar was going to be the first thing people saw when they walked in – the “face” of the restaurant. He wanted it to be very special. He traveled to New York to see the serious Cocktail Bars of Manhattan. Visiting Milk and Honey, he realized that Sasha was the man he wanted to shape his bar. He hired Sasha to consult on the Bohanan’s bar.
Sasha was not a man to do things halfway. He spent a lot of time setting up that bar and training the staff. He fell in love with the city of San Antonio.
In 2012 Sasha founded the San Antonio Cocktail Conference (SACC). The organization is a non-profit and donates all profits to Children’s Charities. SACC is a great event for the hospitality industry in this up and coming city.
Tragically, Sasha left this world in August 2015, just three months after marrying Georgette Moger-Petraske.
His obituary in the New York Times said “Mr. Petraske’s role in the modern cocktail revival is difficult to overstate”.
In Sasha’s one and only book, Robert Simonson says in the forward, “Until about a decade ago, I didn’t much enjoy going out to drink. Sasha Petraske was the first bar owner I ever met that shared my vision of what adult drinking could be”.
The conference is now done in Sasha’s honor.The wonderful Georgette led a toast to Sasha with classic Daiquiris – which was Sasha’s favorite cocktail.She donated a painting of herself and Sasha to Bohanan’s.The portrait was painted by Dale DeGroff’s wife Jill, and presented to the Petraske’s as a wedding present.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Petraske personally, but his presence was certainly felt at the conference and his mentorship shaped an entire generation.
Toast of the Week:
"To Absent Friends...
to those we have met
to those we have yet to meet
to those who have left us for a while
and to those who have left us forever,
let us lift our glasses and drink a toast
that they may abide in our hearts
to absent friends"