Hacking the airplane minibar
The Handbook / Culture / A cocktail lover’s guide to plane drinking

A cocktail lover’s guide to plane drinking

Hacking the airplane minibar

Words— Kate Dingwall

The airport feels like a ripple in time. Standard conventions are off the table: you can sleep wherever you please and it’s appropriate to wear anything from pyjamas to three-piece suits. Having a seven a.m. Bloody Mary is less boozing and more necessary part of a too-long travel day.


While planes and airports are places for frequent drinking, the beverage selections don’t often reflect that. Mile High drinking often brings sub-par wines, room-temperature beers, and tiny bottles of well liquors. So how do you have a mile-high happy hour?





It’s easier than you think. With a little sleight of hand and the advice of a few master mixologists, it’s surprisingly easy to drink well from 30,000 miles up.


Brenton Mowforth, of the Instagram @CheerstoHappyHour recommends sneaking on 2 ounces of Vermouth and 2 ounces of Campari (Amazon offers little travel bottles). This will make it easy to whip up a spate of craft cocktails, like a Negroni (1oz airplane gin, 1oz Vermouth, 1oz Campari), or a Martini (2oz airplane gin, 0.5oz white vermouth).



An Orange Crush


Reyka Vodka’s Trevor Schneider recommends an Orange Crush. “Inspired by Maryland’s infamous Orange Crush, the Reyka Orange Crush is simple, easy to make and delicious, making it the perfect cocktail whether your on-the-go or with limited supplies.” Add 1.5 ounces of Vodka (preferably Reyka) with three parts orange juice and a dash of sprite. 



The Airplane Spritz


Pacific Standard Time’s Scott Stroemer loves a spritz: simply, “Cheap airplane white wine, a dash of bitters, soda water, ice, and a lemon slice.”



A Cognac Highball


Cognac is a staple on most flights, but if the spirit isn’t your favourite, try mixing it in a refreshing highball. Bartender Pamela Wiznitzer suggests grabbing a bottle of coconut water before you head the flight: add 2 ounces of Cognac (she prefers Frapin but work with what you got), an ounce of coconut water, 2 ounces of tonic, and a healthy squeeze of a lime wedge.  





A Sky-High Negroni


Seth Weinberg of Bourbon Steak Nashville loves a classic Italian Negroni, but “It requires some pre-planning; buy a few small screw-top vial bottles that can be found on Amazon.” Then, add equal parts (usually 1oz will do the trick) Campari, Gin, and Sweet Vermouth. We do note that drinking your own liquor on flights is not allowed, so proceed with caution.



Old Fashioned


For the Don Draper on a business trip-type, stir up an Old Fashioned. Weinberg advises, “Order a Bourbon on the Rocks. Ask for a packet of sugar. Add sugar and Angostura Bitters to a glass of whiskey. Stir with the stir stick.” Travel with a mini bottle of bitters - it’ll add layers to the cocktail.



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Or, Come Prepared


When in doubt, shop ahead. “There are many companies that have already capitalized on the idea of travel cocktails,” explains Weinberg. 


Mixallogy makes up liquid pods that can enhance whatever mini-bottle the bar cart is pouring, and Carry On Cocktail Kit brings a full craft cocktail bar right to your tray table.

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