The cocktail glasses are clicking, couples chatting and the aroma of delicious food swarms through the air as it’s being prepared. From the outside, the restaurant seems at ease, but on the inside, workers rush to prepare for the night ahead.
Each month, Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar hosts a pairing dinner sponsored and based around a certain whiskey distiller. Chef Nick Snyder comes out with a five-course meal — an amuse, appetizer, second course, main course and dessert — and Amanda Sarate is in charge of coming up with a cocktail that pairs with each course.
Sarate is a full-time student at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and works full-time at Whiskey Cake. Just as she juggles the bottles of alcohol to make specialized cocktails, Sarate also juggles her time as a communication senior and bartender.
Sarate started working at Whisky Cake in April 2020 and was promoted to head bartender in August 2021. She has been bartending since the age of 21, and just five years later has already accomplished the two-handed bartender technique where she shakes two drinks at once.
“I love being a woman and being so knowledgeable in something that is considered manly,” Sarate said. “We have a lot of guys that are really into whiskey who come in and think they know a lot, but I end up knowing more, impressing them, and it makes me feel really good about my role here at Whiskey Cake.”
Whiskey Cake prides itself in sustainability, for example using coasters that are made from cardboard boxes, the ceiling sound system is made from old egg cartons, they sauter old wine glasses down and turn them into candles for table centerpieces, recycle everything and try to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible.
Farm-to-table and garden-to-glass is what Whiskey Cake is all about, using products from local Texas businesses and farms to even having their own garden in the front of the restaurant to grow their fresh basil, mint and thyme that they pick up freshly every morning.
“Quality ingredients taste even better in the hands of the right people,” states the Whiskey Cake website.
Whiskey Cake currently has over 400 different spirits in the bar and Sarate keeps track of each and every one of them. She has yet to use some of them, she said.
Her go-to source when creating and making cocktails is a book called “The Flavor Bible”.
Sarate’s role at the restaurant is to create weekly cocktails, help her fellow bartenders with coaching and mentoring them, completing inventory every Sunday and keeping the bar tidy and organized.
“My favorite part about being a bartender is getting creative.” Sarate said. “ I love thinking of a vision in my head and seeing it come to life in a cocktail. The color, the smell, the glassware and people’s reaction when they try it and learn I created it.”
Whiskey Cake has tastings every month and online classes that keep Sarate busy. She said this education keeps her on her toes when it comes to the industry of whiskey.
“I love the fast pace of working in restaurants and bars, and I love talking to and meeting new people every shift,” Sarate said.
Although some customers may have a critique, Sarate takes it all in and enjoys the input that comes from different people.
Sarate said it’s “satisfying when you execute something you were brainstorming and everyone loves it,” adding that they call it a “banger,” which Sarate gets quite often.
With a minor in business, Sarate would want to become an event planner and eventually have her own business by being an event coordinator for larger-scale events like pageants, award shows, etc. Although different from bartending, Sarate enjoys working with people and the rush that comes with preparing for something big.
15900 La Cantera Pkwy Suite 21200,
San Antonio, TX 78256
Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.