Proper Cocktails at 30,000 Feet

Pete Capella
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There’s a new Mile High Club. That got your attention quick, didn’t it? You’re stuck in a pressurized metal tube at 30,000 feet in the air and there is only one thing to do: drink. But you’re no simple drinker. You pride yourself on your cocktail selection, your home bar is impeccably stocked with small batch spirits, and your head is filled with minutia of the history of cocktalia. In other words, you ain’t drinking no vodka and Red Bull. So what do you do? Here is The Savory’s guide to mile high imbibing:


Flight Attendant Mixologists?

Let’s face it, there are no bartenders on board an airplane, and the stewards and stewardesses have a lot more to deal with than your cocktail preferences. But the recent push for craft cocktails, and moreso the revolution in organic food and drink, have led to better quality products being available on more airlines. Take a good look at the drink menus and mixers offered. You may not have your stainless steel shaker and hand chipped ice, but you can make do and craft yourself a nice cocktail with the limited offerings that are available on your flight.

Certain airlines have really stepped up their cocktail game. Maybe that’s where those ridiculous bag fees are going. Here are some examples:

Hawaiian Airlines: Added local spirits like Koloa Rum and Ocean Vodka. Nothing like supporting your homegrown alcohols and giving your passengers the opportunity to support local businesses.

Lufthansa Airlines: Leave it to the Europeans to offer options like Fernet Branca, a German Eau de Vie, and a late bottled vintage Port.

Air France: When in business class, you can tickle your fancy with a 10-year-old Tawny Port, a Chartreuse Vert, and even an aged Armagnac.

Virgin America: They have really stepped up their game by including smaller, lesser-known alcohol brands like the acai distilled VeeV, having a comprehensive wine list, and offering a phenomenal selection of non-alcoholic mixers that include organic iced teas and lemonades.


BYO Accoutrements

Sometimes, there is nothing worse than being stuck with whatever they happen to have on board your flight. They run out of certain bottles. They don’t have everything on the menu. Their decent wine selection is whittled down to a white zinfandel. But why leave your pleasure in the hands of someone else? You can carry on your own specialty items to help turn your airline drinks into great cocktails, while still abiding by FAA and Homeland Security guidelines.

Olives: With two cups (one for stirring and one to strain into), some ice, and a good quality mini bottle of gin or vodka (all available on board most planes), pack your carry-on with your favorite gourmet olives to make yourself a martini.

Fruit: Why mix your drink with sugary, preservative-filled juice when you can fresh squeeze your own? Your midair Screwdriver will never be the same once you bring your own orange on board.

Bitters: Angostura, the most popular band of bitters in the world, makes a bottle that is ⅛ of an ounce – well under the restriction for liquids on a plane. Bring these on board and your whiskey on the rocks can quickly become one hell of an Old Fashioned.


Remember that according to FAA law, it is illegal for a passenger to consume any alcoholic beverage that has not been served to them by a certified airline staff member. So, no bringing your own mini bottles on board. (You didn’t hear it from us, but they don’t often check what type of shampoo you’re bringing in your 3.4 oz travel container). It may not exactly be like going to a craft cocktail bar, but consider yourself travel-equipped to fly the friendly skies with a proper drink in hand.

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