essential float trip drinks courtesy of st. louis beverage industry professionals rendering by michelle volansky

Essential float trip drinks courtesy of St. Louis beverage industry professionals

Experienced river floaters know there are a few crucial components to a successful day on the river: sun and bug protection; dry bags for phones, wallets and other valuables; plentiful snacks to keep you fueled for paddling (or, when necessary, dragging); and the right mix of delicious, glass-free beverages to provide both hydration and a sustained – but not debilitating – buzz. What’s the key to making sure your cooler is equipped to meet every need? To find out, we asked a group of beverage industry professionals: “What’s in your float trip cooler?”

Mixed drinks
“If you want to go pinky up on a floating adventure, dump a little lemon juice, a touch of sugar and some fruity or floral liqueur in your bag of wine [to make frosé]. Freeze it overnight and toss in the cooler on the way. Keeps the beer cold and slushes up nicely after a bit of summer hits it.” - Melinda Cooper, director of beverage and bar operations, Niche Food Group

“My go-to, I recently learned, is called calimocho or kalimotxo – we always called it South City Sangria. [It’s] equal parts Coke and any red boxed wine (Franzia, preferred) over ice with a squeeze of lime. You can even skip cups and ice if you keep the soda cold and top off the can. Cheap, easy, you can drink a million of them and most importantly: No glass on the river.” - Corey McGraw, bartender, Louie

“Something in the margarita/daiquiri family is essential. … The citrus-forward classics are too crushable on the water to not bring, and they always hit the spot. Don't forget to dilute if you're just building in the bottle to account for dilution lost in not shaking [with ice]. We want to have some drinks, but we also want to make it through the whole float.” - Luc Michalski, beverage director, Wild Carrot

“We love Pinckney Bend – it’s our favorite local gin – and they make a canned gin and tonic that’s locally produced and a little lower ABV than what you’d mix yourself – it’s great for all-day drinking. Cocktail Courier’s Party Can Triple Spice Margarita is also great; it comes in a 1.75-liter tin so there’s enough for everyone to have some, plus it’s made with good tequila, lime juice and a hint of red pepper that counterbalances any tinniness from the tin.” - Simon Lehrer, buyer, Parker’s Table

“My wife and I and our friends love getting out on Missouri's rivers during the summer and fall. We generally pack multiple types of drinks for our enjoyment on the river. Besides giant jugs of water to stay hydrated, we've always got some tasty brews and seltzer waters to sip on throughout the day. 2nd Shift Brewing Firefly Golden Ale, Little Big Hop hazy session IPA and Technical Ecstasy Czech-style Pilsner have been some of our favorites as of late; and then we always toss in some Mighty Kind CBD seltzer water to keep things chill.” - Scott Pelizzaro, general manager, 2nd Shift Brewing

“To me, nothing beats an ice-cold Busch (from a can; it’s up to us to keep our rivers glass-free). Busch Light Apple has become available around my area; a tall boy of that with a heavy pour of Campari makes a super fun, easy float trip drink. Just pack a flask of Campari in the beer cooler.” - Sophie Huddart, bartender, Lazy Tiger

“[Natural aka] Natty Light: the club soda of beers. Low ABV and doesn't break the bank even if you have to dump half of every can due to accidental river dunks or bee invasions.” - Melinda Cooper

“I'm going with the Las Jaras Waves canned red wine. This is a juicy red blend from Northern California crafted to chill down and relax with. The comedian Eric Wareheim is part owner of Las Jaras, and you're always getting something quirky and unique coming from this winery. The cans are also half bottles (375 milliliters), so you have a lot more than you might think to sip on. Great option for the wine lovers!” - Matt Hickerson, buying manager, Cork & Rind

“We love French Pool Toy rosé, a rosé that comes in a plastic bottle. It’s clean and fresh tasting, fresh and tart as you’d expect of a Provençal-style rosé. At $10 per bottle, everyone can have their own!” - Simon Lehrer

“I'm so stuck on Aha Peach + Honey sparkling water right now. It's crisp, refreshing and delicious with whatever's in your flask if you decide to go for the spike. It screams summer no matter what you do to it. My personal preference is mixing with 1220 Spirits Barrel Reserve Origin gin.” - Melinda Cooper

“Lately, I've also been drinking a lot of Casamara Club botanical sodas and Athletic Brewing Co.’s Daypack seltzers, which both conveniently come in cans and are perfect for a sober float or just managing the drunkenness of a not-sober float. Remember: You're out there all day, and nobody wants to babysit your ass.” - Luc Michalski