When you hear the words “cocktail competition,” charity is typically not the first thing that comes to mind. But, that is exactly what the 8th Annual Rivertini Premier Cocktail Competition was – a way for the community to support beautification and preservation projects along the San Antonio River by the San Antonio River Foundation. This cocktail competition featured over twenty local bartenders showing off their talent and engaging their neighbors and patrons in the emerging restaurant and culinary scene unique to San Antonio. One of the criteria that competitors were judged on was, “Connection to the River.” Some did this through cocktail titles, and others through ingredients. The end result was hundreds of people considering what it means to be connected to the River through local amenities and commerce made possible in great part by continued private investment in our beautiful San Antonio River. Held at the Wyndham Garden Riverwalk just north of downtown, guests were provided with a dazzling evening along the linear art museum which is the Museum Reach. Guests could hear the nearby “Sonic Passage”, an auditory art installation compiled of natural and urban sounds along the length of the San Antonio River. Around the corner was the iconic luminous “F.I.S.H.” installation, a large reminder of the magnitude small river life like the native sunfish has on our very own River. How we experience the River through artwork is both individual and collective. Nearly ¾ of each Rivertini ticket is rededicated to helping the San Antonio River Foundation in future monumental public art projects along the Mission Reach “portals.” Since the San Antonio Missions’ World Heritage Site designation in 2015, the gaps between the surge of urban development, our local environment and the legacy of the missions have widened. Through support generated by events such as Rivertini, the San Antonio River Foundation seeks to bridge that negative space through public art. The Mission Reach – the 8 miles of Riverwalk south of downtown – is a recreational corridor which beckons to a wilder, more natural San Antonio with its billowing native grasses and sparkling unbounded river. At each transition from the Riverwalk to the adjacent historic missions, an art “portal” will stand to unite the past and present, the fabricated with the natural. Two of these art portals were installed in 2015: “River Return” by environmental artist Stacy Levy, and “Whispers” by international phenom, Arne Quinze. The former, at Mission Concepcion, fuses swirling currents of the River with the ancient patterns found on the Mission’s façade. The latter, on the river banks by Mission San Juan, consists of eight massive statues of twisted metal, colored on one side to match wildflowers and rusted on the other, earthy, like tall grass. The last two of the set of four Mission art portals at Mission San Jose and Mission Espada will be completed in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The 8th Annual Rivertini, premier cocktail competition was an outstanding success in many ways. For five bartenders, it was acknowledgment of their craft. For hundreds of guests, it was an evening of community, culture and amusement. For the San Antonio community at large, it was the continuation of a legacy of public art along our incomparable San Antonio River.