Known in the community as Mr. Jello Shot, Robert Swain, Jr “Swainshow” “Robbie” has turned his love for bartending and creativity into a full-fledged business. OnTheRox debuted in February 2019, and in just over a year, it is a household name among many residents. His famous cooler has shown up everywhere and is often held hostage in exchange for more Jello Shots. It has been spotted on a ferry to Virgin Gorda, at private parties, weddings, conferences, and many other events. We thought we would catch up with this mixing genius to get more insight into how his life has evolved since living OnTheRox. Let’s see what he has in store for the holidays and into 2021.
RS: The idea was born in January 2019 when I started to miss being behind the bar. At the time, I was working for a renovations company, and jobs weren’t coming in as often anymore. So, I had to think of something I could do in between jobs at the company. The name, on the rocks, is just a term used to describe how someone wants to enjoy their liquor of choice. On the rocks simply means on ice. From there, it was just to come up with a modern logo that pulled people in. From idea to actuality was a mere two months or less.
RS: Contrary to what everyone assumes, I have never had any formal or professional training. My experience with bars started from home here in the VI, at a very young age. I was part of a promotions company called ‘The Liming Association’ which consists of Dj’s, photographers, entertainers, and just all-around young party-goers. At many of the events we held, I would always get behind the bar and create different concoctions until they were perfected. Later on, while living in Los Angeles, I worked for a company called Celebrity Red Carpets. I would set up red carpets and ‘step & repeats’ all around LA for movie premieres, parties, and major networking events. It just so happens that my former boss also held networking events and always needed workers. Whether it was security, bartenders, or wait staff. I would always jump in and help the bartenders. Learning their every move.
RS: To be honest, in some weird astronomical way, I knew it would be a hit; I just needed to start. What I didn’t know would happen was the number of jobs we would gain in such a short period of time.
RS: It makes me feel like some sort of party guru at times, but the real reason is because of the relationship we build with the clients and their guests during their event. We go above and beyond to make them happy. We see things they don’t think we see and do things outside of our duties.
RS: Well, I think we should start by telling you how it all started (one of my favorite stories to tell these days). It was November 2019, while my girlfriend and I were hosting a ‘games day’ with some friends, I decided to use them as my lab rats for a new product I was trying to introduce. I won’t say what the product was, but right before I was about to serve them the samples, I checked my Facebook and saw a post that read, “Who makes Jello Shots?”. Without hesitation, I said, “Me! I make Jello Shots!!”. I had never made Jello a day in my life. It’s the taste that makes it special. I think people were always used to Jello shots thatwere just loaded with alcohol, but no one wanted to eat more than a certain amount. With shots from OnTheRoX, they can eat as many as they want until it really kicks in, and by then, it’s too late. Party Start.
RS: The inspiration comes from always wanting to do more and not getting too comfortable. Based on past experiences, there’s a 6-month wave in the VI you have toride when bringing something new to the table. Whether it’s a new bar, restaurant, or product, after 6 months, you have to re-market and hit them again with something new/different. I think DEMAND determines which product comes next. I really pay keen attention to what people say on social media or at any events we host.
RS: Let’s see; I’ve been doing theatre and film since the age of 12. I’ve been a radio host off and on all through my life. I’m a tradesman specialized in drywall, painting, etc. etc. Music has always been a hobby, and I’ve recently decided to take it more seriously.
RS: My preference would always be theatre and film. There’s never been anything more exhilarating than acting for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love making jello and music, but if I get a call to do a film, I’m dropping everything, and I’m gone!
RS: Well, the bartending service aspect of my business thrives on nightlife. So with more social distancing, it means fewer parties to bartend. Fewer jobs, less income. However, since people weren’t partying as much outside of their homes, they still wanted that feeling of celebrating. So folks still continued to order Jello Shots.
RS: Oh, man! My TEAM! My team consists of mostly family and friends I hang out with that are regular party-goers and know the ins and outs of the nightlife. To be completely honest, most of the people on my team had never bartended that much before I hired them. I chose them based on their personalities, not necessarily their experience behind a bar. I’ve always believed that anyone with an inviting persona and minimal training can be a bartender.
RS: I’d say meeting new people from different backgrounds and classes has been the highlight. From formal events to kids’ birthday parties, it’s really all a great experience.
RS: A simple cocktail that anyone can make at home is using something that bubbles with something that doesn’t. For example, ginger ale and cranberry juice go a long way. A shot of any vodka or rum added would be perfect for a cocktail.
RS: Well, unfortunately for the readers, most of the events that we’re bartending are private or corporate invitation-only events. However, within the upcoming months, OnTheRoX will be hosting its own events.
RS: To be completely honest, I’m going with the flow, and most of my ideas are sparked as time goes by.
RS: Right now, it’s all about sustainability. I have two beautiful children to provide for and I want to be able to comfortably give them everything they need to not only survive but enjoy life.
RS: I would encourage them to research and find something that’s missing around usSomething that people would gravitate towards, even if it’s just for a short period of time.Take advantage of the wave and keep bringing forth new additions.
Robert Swain, Jr has used his life experiences to create and bring a different product; a product that many did not realize was missing, but somehow now can’t see life clearly without OnTheRox. There are many bartending services offered in the Territory but using his multifaceted entertaining background; he has taken bartending to another level. He is selling an experience. The OnTheRox team delivers equally the right groove. They are energetic, engaging, attentive, sophisticated, efficient, fun, and quite sexy. Robbie’s passion for creativity and presentation is displayed in every crafted cocktail that he pours, stirs, shakes, blends, or chills. The magic is within him, and with each drink, he awakens your taste buds. A bartender has the responsibility to heal the customer with his words, with his listening ability, and then deliver a product that soothes and warms the soul. Robbie skillfully understands how to onnect a product to each guest. It’s the Style! It’s the Taste! It’s the Presentation! He delivers love in a glass. Each drink wraps around your body and gives you a big hug. Customers can’t get enough. Coming to you soon is OnTheRox Bar, as his goal is to have his own hub.
Planning an event? Let OnTheRox bring your party to life. Don’t miss an opportunity to impress your guests with an experience of a lifetime. After all, is it really a party without OnTheRox?