Be it for work, leisure, or reconnecting with family, people travel great distances by plane every single day of the year. And while long check-in lines, missed connections, and delayed flights can bring quick headaches and an overall bad attitude, when you do finally get settled into your seat, it’s nice to relax and unwind with a refreshing cocktail. But how do you get the same great concoction from a flight attendant slinging fifty drinks a minute 35,000 feet up as you do from your home bar? Simple. Make it yourself.
But hold on: You might assume you can just bring a few hotel-sized mini bottles of alcohol with you for the trip so long as they meet the 3.4-ounce container size as deemed by the FAA, but it's still a federal crime to crack open your own alcohol mid-flight, and carries a hefty fine if you're caught and cited. According to Kathy Casey, host of Liquid Kitchen, your best bet is to start your cocktail with the spirits offered onboard and get creative with rest.
First, pick your drink and bring along the best ingredients from home. "It depends on what your cocktail of choice is," adds Iain McCallum, Global Master of Malts for Morrison Bowmore Distillers. "Bourbon, a splash of ginger ale, and a touch of cranberry are pretty refreshing with a squeeze of lemon." For international flights, most airlines carry Campari. "So you can do a delicious drink mixing that with gin or vodka, and a splash of grapefruit and orange."
And although the spirit you are going to use for your cocktails needs to be purchased in the air, you can still bring along a small bottle of non-alcoholic bitters in order to make yourself a "pre-mix," as well as a lemon or lime that can be cut with a plastic knife once you're on board. "Squeeze the wedges and drop them into a cup, mix with a sugar packet and some sparkling water to make a citrusy fizzy base you can add liquor to."
Now for tools: Ask the flight attendant for an empty cup, an extra cup of ice for mixing your own cocktail, and plenty of extra napkins. You should also ask for stir stick or spoon for the perfect drink, or if you're really committed, toss a special stirring spoon and a small plastic cocktail shaker away in your bag.
Always be specific when you're asking for ingredients. Say things like "I would like a cup with a splash of cranberry and a splash of orange juice, a cup of ice, a bottle of gin, and a can of soda, please." Flight attendants are busy, so ask for everything you need the first time.
And if there's a kind gentleman or a classy lady nearby, be prepared to make two.
With everything in hand, here are a few quick cocktail recipes to enjoy on your next flight:
Bloody Mary: Bring a packet of pepper, some hot sauce. Order a vodka and tomato juice with ice.
Old Fashioned: Bring a mini bottle of non-alcoholic bitters, a sugar packet, and orange slice. Order a whiskey with ice.
Negroni: Bring an orange slice. Order a Campari, a gin, a cup of ice, and a cranberry, grapefruit, or orange juice.
Michelada: Bring a lime, worschester sauce, hot sauce, and salt. Order a beer, Mexican if available.