No assembly required cocktails becoming more available in St. Louis

I love my whiskey. I love my tequila, I love my rum and I love me some good vodka. I’ve never been a gin fan, but you can only love so much. I love all my spirits both neat, on the rocks, and in a cocktail. But truth be told, on some nights, I’m not in a mood to mix, and not in the mood for a $16.00 craft cocktail. I just want it easy and I want it now.

This line of thinking is what the drink industry clearly envisioned as we have all seen the rise in the popularity of “cocktails in a can.” Known as RTD or “ready to drink” in trade speak, have exploded as a market, providing new creative outlets for St. Louis craft brewers such as 4 Hands Brewing (1220 Artisan Spirits), Schlafly Beer (Saint Louis Crafted Cocktails) and Alpha Brewing (Easy Peasy Hard Tonic).

So, as I put my cocktail shaker down, and began my journey into RTD, I found St. Louis cocktail lovers have many options available widely around town.

One brand I’m giving a try is On The Rocks. The attraction of these, literal, cocktails in a bottle are that they come “no assembly required,” and while that may not attract every cocktail lover, the ease of just pouring over ice really makes enjoying a premium cocktail easy, especially when you note the cost of full bottles.

The thought here is simple. Take premium, name-brand spirits, which you know, add all natural ingredients and mix them into the most popular cocktails into the world, bottling them, and eventually finding a spot on your bar.

OTR offers six cocktails currently using popular spirits such as Knob Creek, Larios, Cruzan, Effen, Tres Generaciones and Hornitos. I tried 5 of 6 (I had to pass off the gin to a friend) and was left with the impression that the mixologists here went for balance. All the cocktails described below presented wonderfully on ice. The pours offered a balance of tastes that will keep you happy, as only a well made cocktail can do.

You have to love bourbon to love this cocktail because it’s basically bourbon with a small touch of juicy va-voom. In this version, you’re getting one of my favorites, in Knob Creek, which is not an overpowering bourbon, which means I do not recommend you add water. The pure cane sugar mellows the whiskey and bitters binds the flavors of the drink.

To salt or not to salt. That will be your choice in the end, but I say, with this OTR flavor, you don’t need it. Salt, in some cases, can cover up an inferior margarita. But with this blend, the balance here is dead-on, thus the salt actually covers up the superiorness of this drink.

I’ve plenty of versions of a margarita, but never a jalapeno-pineapple one. The combination works well together giving that sweet/spicy combination that pairs so well.

I reject anyone who says Cosmo’s aren’t for men. Screw that. Cosmo’s rock, and I’m more than comfortable enough to drink them when and wherever. Making a good one is again about balance. I actually prefer them a bit out whack, with more vodka burn and less cranberry juicyness. This version is bit too balanced for me, and I found it necessary to add just a hit of vodka to get my personal balance in play.

The original foo-foo cocktail has had a resurgence in popularity on many cocktail programs I’ve written about. Versions of this classic cocktail are limitless, but this OTR edition is unique due to its use of three rums. A proper Mai Tai is a deep amber hue and allows the rum to shine through with the other ingredients. This one is proper.

As I said, I don’t do gin. I also did not know this classic cocktail was purple. I asked a gin-loving friend to imbibe on this for a night, and I believe they would say they were rewarded.  The cocktail is distinguished by its purple-bluish hue and floral, citrus flavors.

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