The Mile-High Mixologist’s Guide to (Good) In-Flight Cocktails

When the flight attendant wheels the cart around and lists the long lists of mini bottles, it’s easy to grab a bland old standby and call it a day. What if we told you that you can make the most of your favorite mixed drinks with a clever assembly of a few standard flight accommodations? All it takes is either getting really creative or bringing your mixed drink paraphernalia – your choice.

Just two ingredients
Kalimotxo – It doesn’t get easier than pouring the just right combination of liquid plus liquor together, but that doesn’t mean that a simple drink won’t hit the spot. For example, this mix of red wine and coke has recently become an iconic Spanish concoction. We haven’t tried it, but we’re putting that on this weekend’s to-do list!
Wine spritzer – Take a semi-dry of your choice, and add a splash of club soda, tonic water, or even Sprite to make this lively drink that makes even a long plane ride feel like a celebration.
Presbyterian – Pick your favorite whiskey or bourbon, and pour an equal amount of ginger ale. We definitely knew about this drink before; we just didn’t know there was such a serious name for it.

Three is NOT a crowd
Irish coffee – For starters, grab a coffee with extra cream. Ask the flight attendant for some Jameson’s, Bailey’s, or whatever Irish whiskey-ish liqueur they have on hand. You’ll get the dual benefit of the alcohol with the kick of caffeine. Because of the cocktail’s popularity, Delta started serving a Jack and Joe, a very similar drink with a touch of Tennesee Honey whiskey, for $10.
Sangria – Red wine, orange juice, and cranberry juice are all you need to make this classic Spanish favorite. You can make them the real way, with citrusy fruit slices, when you get home.
Margarita – For another classic citrus drink, order a small bottle of tequila, then add orange juice and Sprite. We realize it doesn’t score points for being authentico without the premium tequila or margarita salt, but it tastes good and certainly mimics your favorite margs.

If you’re feeling more adventurous…
First, a warning: Prepare for askance stares if your flight attendant is in a suboptimal mood and catches you making a cocktail with your own supplies. We think you should mix your little bottles with pride and enjoy a tasty drink! You or your employer paid a lot for this flight, so don’t be afraid to relax and enjoy it, within the boundaries of reason and law.

If you love your bitters and you need some on hand, the TSA allows these one-ounce bottles. Having bitters available opens up a whole new world of options for you, like the classic old fashioned, Manhattan, and champagne cocktail. You can also buy a complete set like this one — what a great gift idea for the holidays! The only issue is that you’ll be limited to a set recipe: The Hot Toddy kit is just for hot toddies. If you’re dying to DIY, tote some tiny, TSA-approved bottles into your carry on, and mix away!

Also, feel free to ask for the complimentary extras that can make your drink special, such as lime wedges. If you’re brave enough to mix your own Bloody Mary on the flight, make sure you cash in on the free hot sauce packs from a Chinese restaurant in the airport, assuming you, you know, bought a meal there. Similarly, if you’re getting a coffee drink, make sure you take a couple extra sugar packets for that cocktail syrup. The more ingredients you’re able to rustle up, the more complicated your drink possibilities: Just make sure these ingredients will make it through security, okay?

Tell us: What’s the best drink you’ve ever consumed during a flight? Did you make it yourself?

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