On the Rocks (OTR) Premium Cocktails is a relatively new company, launched in 2016 in Dallas, Texas, yet they’re already rocketing to the top of the craft cocktail ladder. After all, how many other new companies find themselves on United and Hawaiian Airlines?
So, what are they doing that’s so unique? Co-founder and chief mixologist Rocco Milano has created a new kind of ready-to-serve cocktail experience. Essentially, they have brought the bar to you.
OTR offers ready-to-drink premium cocktails without the need for multiple ingredients or equipment. This is why the company caught my eye. I would love to spend time lovingly crafting an Old Fashioned or a Mai Tai, but whenever I buy ingredients for these cocktails, most of them end up going bad or are wasted. I’ll make one or two drinks for a party and then move on to something else.
I’ve sampled a few pre-made bottled cocktails in the past and absolutely hated them. The taste of a freshly shaken or stirred cocktail seemed unable to be bottled—until Milano figured it out.
These cocktails are all natural, sweetened with cane sugar, contain no preservatives, and use only quality spirits.
“My focus was to create bar-quality cocktails that had balance and subtlety of character—making cocktails that have layers of complexity rather than being overly sweet, boozy, or otherwise,” said Milano. “We operate under the belief that ‘good’ is the enemy of ‘great.’ We kept working on our drinks until we had ‘great’ drinks!”
One of the most interesting aspects of OTR is that the ABV is slightly higher than a standard bar cocktail. This allows you to pour the drink over ice, diluting and chilling the cocktail the same way a bartender would by shaking or stirring.
So, do they taste good? The answer is: HELL, YEAH.
In fact, these cocktails are better than any $14 cocktail I’ve had in a bar in recent memory. Place an OTR Old Fashioned and a bartender-made Old Fashioned in front of me, and I’d choose the OTR version a thousand times over. It’s always consistent, always fresh, and always the perfect mixture of ingredients.
OTR and Milano hit a home run, and I just wish I would have known about them sooner.
Here is our pairing of the Old Fashioned with the new Cohiba Connecticut. Keep scrolling to see OTR’s current lineup of cocktails.
Old Fashioned and Cohiba Connecticut Pairing
The Old Fashioned
Alcohol: Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey
ABV: 35 percent
Awards: Bronze (San Francisco Spirit Competition 2016) and Silver (International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018)
About: Staying true to the original recipe, OTR keeps their Old Fashioned strong and simple using a generous pour of Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey, bitters, cane sugar, orange, cherry, and lemon zest.
“We use a high-rye bourbon and add just a touch of orange, cherry, and cane sugar,” said Milano.
Produced by: General Cigar Dominicana
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Connecticut Shade
Binder: Mexico San Andres
Filler: Brazil (Mata Fina), Dominican Republic (Cubano) and Nicaragua (Jalapa)
Size: Toro—6 1/2 x 52
Time to smoke: 110 minutes
Release date: March 2019
First off, I consider myself an Old Fashioned connoisseur, and this Old Fashioned shocked the hell out of me. The purist in me was doubtful that a bottled Old Fashioned could be good, but sure enough, it rivals any Old Fashioned I’ve ordered in a lounge.
The cocktail leans heavily on the bourbon side, which is how I prefer it, and all the ancillary ingredients are subtle, yet welcomed, background players. I’m telling you, this bad boy is strong.
I didn’t want to overwhelm the bourbon with an equally strong cigar, so I paired it with the Cohiba Connecticut, recently released this spring from General Cigar. I mostly chose this cigar, though, because I’ve been itching to try it.
The Connecticut proved an excellent choice as this cigar features subtle fruit flavors, particularly orange and lemon, which paired beautifully with the bitters, orange, and lemon zest in the Old Fashioned.
Side note: The Cohiba Connecticut has a spectacular construction, one that required no touch-ups of any kind. I was truly able to sit back, close my eyes, and immerse myself in the aroma of an excellent cigar and the flavors of an exceptional Old Fashioned.
I know it’s hard to believe what I’m saying here without trying it yourself, but that’s just what you need to do—try it for yourself.
On the Rocks Premium Cocktails has truly captured the cocktail bar in a bottle, and I, for one, will be a fan and customer for life.
Other OTR Cocktails
The Mai Tai
Alcohol: Cruzan Rum
ABV: 20 percent
Awards: Bronze (San Francisco Spirit Competition 2017) and Silver (International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018)
About: “There’s an old tiki adage that goes ‘what one rum can’t do, three rums can,’” said Milano. “I took it a step further and added a fourth.”
It’s a blend of light and dark rums with flavors of orange, pineapple, orgeat, and coconut for the perfect Mai Tai.
Editor’s note: This cocktail is easily my second favorite. Just like the Old Fashioned, it’s one of the best Mai Tai’s I’ve ever enjoyed. This one is perfect for a day on the beach.
Alcohol: Larios London Dry Gin
ABV: 20 percent
Awards: Gold (San Francisco Spirit Competition 2016) and Bronze (International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018)
About: This classic gin cocktail is crafted with Larios London Dry Gin and features flavors of dry cherry, lemon, and violet.
Alcohol: Effen Vodka
ABV: 20 percent
Awards: Silver (San Francisco Spirit Competition 2017) and Silver (International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018)
About: Often referred to as “the cosmo,” this simple cocktail blends vodka, flavors of cranberry, triple sec, lemon zest, and lime.
Editor’s note: This one was my wife’s favorite. She couldn’t stop saying, “This is delicious!”
Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita
Alcohol: Tres Generaciones Tequila
ABV: 20 percent
Awards: Silver (San Francisco Spirit Competition 2017) and Gold (International Wine & Spirit Competition 2018)
About: The perfect drink for those who love of all things hot, the Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita uses a combination of pineapple and triple sec married with Plata tequila and the heat from the jalapeño.
“With the Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita, I wanted to do something that would echo that great culinary tradition of combining the sweet with the spicy,” said Milano, who went so far as to source a natural jalapeño extract for the Jalapeño Pineapple Margarita. This leaves each bottle at the exact Scoville rating desired, something that would be impossible for a cocktail bartender muddling fresh peppers.
Alcohol: Hornitos Plata Tequila
ABV: 20 percent
Awards: Bronze (San Francisco Spirit Competition 2017)
About: The margarita offers a perfect balance between tequila, tart lime flavors, and triple sec.
For more info as well as where you can buy the cocktails, visit ontherockscocktails.com.
For more info on the Cohiba Connecticut, visit cohiba.com.