Cocktail Chat: With Sandra Spalding of Twin Liquors

The San Antonio Cocktail Conference was last week and if you are like me you were bursting with all kinds of ideas you wanted to try out… and also a lot of questions.
Now I have to be honest and tell you, I love a good cocktail but I am NOT 100% on my game when it comes to knowledge about cocktails and hostessing. Luckily at the SACC I got the chance to speak with someone who is!
Giant Noise PR reached out to me and asked if I would like to speak with Hostessing Expert Sandra Spalding, the Director of Marketing from Twin Liquors. Naturally, I said I’d love to! I love meeting smart women who also support community events and philanthropy so I was thrilled to be able to talk with her about the Cocktail Conference and see if she could give me some tips, tricks, and to learn a little more about one of the sponsors of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference!
 I got to hang out with Sandra Spalding and Jessica Barnard (Twin Liquors’ Wholesale Manager) on the Agave Bon Voyage river barge tour (Read about that and the San Antonio Cocktail Conference HERE) and experience a great mezcal and tequila tasting.
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I should have taken another photo but… tequila… sorry Sandra, next time photo shoot! lol
After the boat tour and tasting, I sat down with Sandra to get her hostessing tips, learn about Twin Liquors, and to find about Sandra and Jessica’s favorite cocktails from the conference.
Has there been a cocktail that you’ve tried at any of the SACC events that you’ve really enjoyed so far?
Sandra Spalding: “I love the signature cocktail that they has this year the Tío Mío with Herradura Añejo tequila, which is essentially an old fashioned. Modern takes on classic drinks are always fun.”
Jessica Barnard: “I loved the Pina Colada made with Jim Beam Bonded Bourbon.”

What things should the newbie host/hostess have stocked to make sure they are ready for entertaining at home?

Sandra Spalding: “In terms of spirits, Vodka and Bourbon are always great to have, even if you just have those two you’re probably going to make most of your guests really happy. If you wanted to have a couple of other things on your bar, a tequila and a gin would be great, and then having a sweet and dry vermouth will allow you to be able to make martinis, manhattan’s, and other drinks too. Also make sure you always have a bowl of lemons, limes, oranges, and you can make all kinds of drinks.”

Any major dont’s or faux pas that should be avoided?
S: “The biggest faux pas, in my opinion, is bad glassware. I always say have great glassware, even if it is mismatched. If you do use plastic, there are some cool plastic cups out there like Govino (shatterproof glasses).”
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What are some staple tools to keep on your bar?
S:“Some sort of beaker, a spoon and a strainer, you can use a shot glass as a jigger or a small glass that you probably already have in your cabinet and your good to go!”
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What’s the best way to do drinks for a larger group of people? 
S: “I’m not a big fan of having to shake drinks when I’m having a big crowd of people. If you have to shake drinks all night, it is a lot of work. I prefer to be able to sort of just stir up a pitcher of something or make a punch.”
What is a classic cocktail that everyone should know how to make someone look like they can ‘adult’ correctly?
S: Know how to make a Manhattan. If you know how to make a Manhattan you can make a martini; you can tweak those and vary it up with garnishes too. Really with just a few ingredients and some garnishes you can have some fun.”
Is there a signature cocktail that you serve at your own events?
S: “Manhattan. It’s old school.”

What resources does Twin Liquors have for someone who wants to learn more about hosting, wine pairings, or making drinks?

S: “I always say the best resource is our people. We have the big marketplace stores where we offer classes like wine 101, entertaining classes, mixology classes, scotch classes; if those don’t work within your schedule, we have very knowledgeable staff. So if your shopping at the Boerne store and talking to Chris G there, he’s going to get to know you and be able to get a feel for what you’re serving and doing at your event.
Once you get to know your Twin Liquors store staff and they get to know you, they’re going to really be able to help guide you.
We also have some online resources in terms of knowledge area and fun videos. Jessica and I have a series of ‘how to videos’ to make cocktails, and we will be doing more of those soon. But really our best resource is our people, It great to watch a video but its way more fun if you can have a conversation and tailor it to what you like to do and what you like to drink.”

*At this point we were interrupted momentarily when a stranger came up to us, gummy worms in hand, to ask Jessica if she wanted some of her candy. Being a favorite of Jessica’s she almost gave in but thankfully remembered the old “don’t take candy from strangers” rule! ‘Thanks but no thanks strange gummy worm fairy!’*
Is providing those community and customer educational resources and opportunities an important factor for Twin Liquors?
S: “Yes, absolutely.
The history of Twin Liquors is long, but the short version is that back in the 80’s when the current owners decided to take if from Jabour’s Package Store and turn it into Twin Liquors, named after their father and uncle, Margaret Jabour was studying fashion and  said that she wanted to have a place where women felt comfortable shopping. At the same time, her now late brother Ralph was a biochemist, and he was really into the idea scientifically of food and wine pairings. So anytime they got together they were always talking about food and wine and pairings. Their youngest brother, who is the president of the company now, David Jabour,  was a banker, so he was the business sense, and it just all came together. Refined stores, displays, and teaching people.
Margaret’s thing was ‘ When you go to the cosmetic counter you want to try the product on. You want to understand how to apply the makeup.’ And that was the approach that they took.
Tastings, really teaching people how to make drinks, and how to do pairings; it really is a pillar of what Twin Liquors is, and from there it was instilled in all of our employees. We try to have one employee at every single one of the events at SACC so that our staff is educated so that they can, in turn, educate the consumers that come into our stores.

Twin Liquors is a sponsor for the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, 

and Twin Liquors has also contributed a great deal to different nonprofits and community organizations over the years, is philanthropy something built into the company values?

S: “Yes! The current generation (3rd generation) that are the owners lost their bother Ralph to heart failure. Because of that Margaret Jabour (Co-Owner/ Executive Vice President of Twin Liquors) got involved with the American Heart Association, and David  Jabour (Co-Owner/ President) was very involved in the arts, and it really snowballed, in the best way, from there.

Its only natural, right? You’re a neighborhood store, you have two or three employees in each, and every store gets to know the community and what is important to that community.”

We got hooked up with Cathy Siegel (Executive Director of Houston Street Charities) through Margarets work with Heart Gift and heard about the Cocktail Conference in San Antonio. The whole premise of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference is raising money for Houston Street Charities (with 100% of proceeds going to life-saving children’s charities), and that was really something that appealed to Twin Liquors. Last fall we donated a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 25 year, to the conference. They auctioned it off, and with that and a few other items that night we raised over $15,000. Its pretty cool when you can do that and its like give back, have fun, and learn… it all kind of goes together.”

Can you tell me if there are any fun events at Twin Liquors  coming up?
S:
“We have a cool Robert Burns scotch tasting event on January 24th, and in February we’re celebrating Valentine’s with a Valentine Italian Social. We’re going to be tasting a bunch of Italian wines, and having some wine 101 classes. Really every month we always have something going on, particularly at the big stores like on Bitters and 281 in San Antonio.”

If you want to learn more about wine and spirits, or to pick up something you want to try that you saw at this years’ San Antonio Cocktail Conference, make sure you go check out your local Twin Liquors store to take a class and learn from their amazing and knowledgable staff!

Thank you again to the ladies of Twin Liquors, Sandra and Jessica, for taking the time to talk to me!

Watch My YouTube Video of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference Below:

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The Boerne Blonde

I'm a 26 year old California transplant to the San Antonio/ Hill Country area. Sunday Brunch is my version of church.

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