Food & Drink

5 Easy Hacks to Turn Your Seat on a Plane into Your Own Personal Bar

Air travel can drive anyone to drink, but it’s time to leave behind watery, flavorless in-flight Whiskey Sodas. It’s never been easier to have a delicious cocktail on a flight, even if you aren’t sitting in business class. Airlines are stocking better spirits, terminals are getting real bars, and with just a little forethought (and sneakiness), you could be sipping stellar drinks on your next trip. Here are the best hacks and recipes to get you there.

1. Raid the Terminal Bar

Or, rather, politely make use of the ingredients that airport bars stock. The Bloody Mary mix offered on most flights is basically just tomato puree, but ask a bartender outside the gate (very nicely), and you can get to-go containers of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, along with some black pepper. Once you’re on board, you’ll have yourself a Bloody Mary with serious kick.

In-Flight Bloody Mary

1 mini-bottle (50 ml) vodka
1 can Bloody Mary mix
2 lemon wedges
Several dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce
Several dashes Worcestershire sauce
Fresh ground pepper

Combine vodka, Bloody Mary mix, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a cup with ice. Add pepper to taste.
Squeeze one lemon wedge and discard.
Stir. Use the other wedge as a garnish.

2. Always Pack Citrus

Some flights no longer offer fresh lemon and lime, and instead hand out crystallized citrus packets that don’t quite cut it. Either pack some sliced citrus in your carry-on or—again—make the most of a terminal bar and bring some on your flight. From an Old Fashioned to a French 75, you’ll suddenly be able to do a lot with very little.

In-Flight Old Fashioned

1 mini-bottle (50 ml) whiskey
1 packet sugar
Several dashes bitters (brought with you or procured from the terminal bar)
Orange or lemon peel, for garnish

Stir sugar and bitters in a cup to dissolve.
Add ice and whiskey.
Stir. Garnish with peel.

In-Flight French 75

1 mini-bottle (50 ml) gin
Juice of half a lemon
1 packet sugar
1 mini-bottle (50 ml) Champagne or other sparkling wine

Shake gin, lemon juice and sugar in a mini-shaker (see below) vigorously to dissolve sugar. Add ice and shake again.
Strain into a cup with ice and top with sparkling wine.

3. Stock up on the Right Gear

Along with your Airborne and neck pillow, make sure you pick up a mini shaker, and the portable cocktail kit of your choice. That shaker will come in handy, as will the appropriately sized ingredients and spoon in the kit. These ingenious products will allow you to make everything from a Margarita to a Moscow Mule—just buy your spirits on the flight, follow the recipe, hold your head high if you get any looks (you will), and you’ll be ready to go.

In-Flight Margarita

1 mini-bottle (50 ml) blanco tequila
0.5 oz Margarita mix from Carry On Cocktail Kit
Half packet of salt, to rim
3 lime wedges

Wet the edge of an empty cup with one of the lime wedges, and rim with salt (pour some onto a cocktail napkin and roll the glass in the pile). Then add ice to the cup.
Combine the mix, tequila and juice from two of the lime wedges in a mini-shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
Pour into salt-rimmed cup with ice, and add the last lime wedge for garnish.

4. Put Together Your Own “Cocktail Snack Pack”

A number of clever Instagram users have shown off their impressive homemade cocktail packs. If you’re inclined to put in just a bit of preparation, build your own mile high happy hour kit. You could end up with a glorious Whiskey Smash.

In-Flight Whiskey Smash

1 mini-bottle (50 ml) whiskey
Half a lemon
1 tsp sugar (1 packet)
Handful of fresh mint
Fresh fruit, like peach slices or berries

Add the mint, sugar, lemon juice and fruit to a glass, and muddle (the back of a plastic spoon will work).
Add whiskey and ice, and stir.
Garnish with a mint sprig.

5. Follow the Rules (Mostly)

Per TSA and FAA rules, it’s totally fine to pack foods and liquids in containers that hold 3.4 ounces or less in your carry-on luggage. But you’re technically not permitted to drink any alcoholic beverage that wasn’t served by the flight staff. If you’re sly, you’ll probably be OK, but know that if you cause a scene, you could end up paying a $11,000 fine. To be safe, just buy your minis on the flight—then impress the hell out of your seatmates with your in-flight mixology skills.