Checking In With Chris Caldwell
He’s helping build San Antonio’s exciting cocktail bar culture.
We caught up with Chris Caldwell, Resort Beverage Manager at La Cantera Resort & Spa, to learn about his approach to signature cocktails at Sire Bar, drinking trends he sees on the horizon, and why he loves working in San Antonio, Texas.
What do you love most about your job, and working where you do?
I get to explore beverages with our guests, and provide them with ones that they have never heard of before while educating them.
Living and working in San Antonio is amazing because when people think of Texas they automatically think of Austin, Dallas, and Houston. San Antonio is under the radar enough, where we have a chance to impact Texas’s food and beverage scene in the coming years. We have amazing James Beard-nominated chefs, restaurants, bars, and hotels with beverage programs that are receiving attention on the national scale. Everyone that works in San Antonio is working for that common goal of having our city associated with Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. One day we’ll get there. And until we do, it’s an incredible adventure creating camaraderie and competition amongst us.
Talk me through your approach to cocktails.
Use the best possible ingredients that are local, and are from sustainable farms. Seasonality is key, and only take what is needed.
How do you get inspired to come up with new creations?
I get inspiration from culinary shows like Top Chef and Chef’s Table. One episode really struck me, and that was the first episode of Chef’s Table, featuring Chef Grant Achatz. I was blown away by his thought process on food. I immediately went through my old cocktail books written decades ago, to figure out a way to modernize those recipes with today’s techniques and tools. Another point of inspiration is sitting with passionate bartenders, like the ones we have here at La Cantera and surrounding San Antonio bars, and just thinking out loud.
What are your bar’s best sellers, and why do you think they’re so popular?
La Cantera has several bars on property with their own signature cocktail list. A few fan favorites are Topaz’s ‘No Lime in the Coconut’ that features a trio of rums and tropical juices, served in a Thai coconut. Primero offers a seasonal peach caipirhina with Novo Fogo cachaça and local handmade peach syrup. Sweetfire Kitchen shakes up a local Lavender Bee’s Knees, and Sire has our famous Water for People cocktail with Absolut Elyx, strawberries and Moet ice.
What cocktail trends do you see, based on what your customers are ordering and requesting?
San Antonio cocktail trends are all over the spectrum right now, but I’m seeing lots of frozen cocktail cocktails and easy drinkers since it’s over 100 degrees out! My favorite trend is frozen takes on classics like negronis and bee’s knees.
San Antonio’s a fun town. How do you like to spend your downtime?
During my downtime, I like to spend it with my girlfriend. The two of us enjoy checking out new restaurants and bars, floating down the river, getting lost on Texas backroads, and taking advantage of local shooting ranges.