the bar at press photo by michelle volansky

Cocktails on draft are trending at St. Louis bars

Places as diverse as Modern Brewery, The Vandy and Planter’s House have incorporated draft cocktails into their beverage programs, and the trend is becoming more pervasive as owners look to streamline service while still offering top-notch drinks.

Corey Moszer, beverage director at The Lucky Accomplice and Press, has cocktails on draft at both locations. “At The Lucky Accomplice, I started doing [draft cocktails] about two years ago,” he said. “We had four draft handles, and beer isn’t a huge driver here; people tend toward the wine and cocktail programs. I thought it would be a good use of those handles to put out some nice highballs rather than trying to sell beer.”

Moszer said Press has had its drinks on draft since the restaurant opened last year.

“With Press, it was a matter of fast-casual convenience, having a quicker process,” he said. There aren’t dedicated bartenders or servers at the restaurant, so draft cocktails offer speed, ease of service and consistency.

Bangers Only, the beverage consulting company helmed by local bar vets Tim Wiggins and Kyle Mathis, recently started creating draft cocktail programs for area restaurants. The company has developed the draft drinks for the upcoming Burger Champ in Maplewood and Sunday Best, the new concept from chef John Perkins in the former Juniper space, with more in the works.

“It’s definitely where a lot of cocktail culture is trending, having less staff but still having the ability to serve high-quality cocktails,” Wiggins said.

While cocktails on tap speeds up the process of getting drinks to thirsty guests, creating them is a careful process that isn’t as easy as dumping liquid into kegs. What makes a great drink on draft is not necessarily what works as a shaken or stirred cocktail.

“[Draft cocktails] have their own science and nuance,” Wiggins said. Juices, for example, fall apart quickly in a keg, so Wiggins uses an acid blend in place of citrus to keep the drink shelf stable and consistent from the beginning of the keg to the last drops. He said highball drinks and carbonated cocktails work best in the confines of a keg.