When it comes to flying, travel writers know a thing or two about maneuvering through an airport. And yes, that includes finding— and imbibing inside — the airport lounge. But what drinks reign supreme in the lawless land of airport drinking? (Well, maybe not lawless, but only a few places are a-OK with an alcoholic option at 7:30 a.m.)
We chatted with eight travel writers to get their go-to drink orders in an airport lounge. Here’s what they said.
The go-to drink in an airport lounge, according to travel writers:
- Gin Martini
- Gin & Tonic
- Quadruple espresso with ice
- Tequila Soda
“There’s something about an airport lounge that just makes a Gin Martini feel right. My “Mad Men”-influenced brain is convinced it’s one of the only wisps of the golden age of air travel that’s managed to survive. They’re never, ever going to be the best you’ve ever had, but there’s something about having that cold and crisp sip after security that hits right. It’s also the perfect thing if you can only have one drink before running off to your gate, complete with an olive snack.” —Zach Mack, travel and drinks writer and owner of ABC Beer Co., New York City
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“Ever since I saw Betty Draper order one on “Mad Men,” I’ve been obsessed with Gimlets. They’re so simple, refreshing, and delicious, and despite its alcohol content, sipping one feels delicate and graceful. I rarely see them on cocktail menus, but lucky for me, Delta’s Sky Club slings them at the bar. Ordering one of these before a flight makes me feel like I took a time machine to the glory days of airline travel, when going to the airport was treated like going to the Oscars.” —Astrid Taran, senior travel editor, Forbes Vetted, NYC
“When visiting an airport lounge, my go-to is a Gin & Tonic. It’s difficult to get a bad G&T, since the cocktail only features two ingredients. Plus, the drink is bright and refreshing — it’s a nice pick-me-up before a flight. If I’m looking to celebrate, I’ll opt for some Veuve Clicquot. It’s a party in a glass.” —Jennifer Kester, VP and Executive Editor, Forbes Travel Guide, New Orleans
“My morning ritual on early morning flights out of Raleigh–Durham is to pop into the United Lounge to get settled in pre-flight and guzzle down a quadruple espresso on ice. When I fly, I’m always either trying to catch up on sleep or working, so I drink lots of espressos and lots of sparkling water. But I will allow myself a Campari soda with lime [as a] lunchtime libation, or a glass of Champagne [as a ] dinnertime or pre-redeye libation.” —Jenn Rice, culinary and travel journalist, Durham, North Carolina
“In an airport lounge, my go-to drink is pretty basic but effective. I opt for a tequila with soda water and a squeeze of lime — carcass out or in, it doesn’t matter either way to me. As I get older, I’ve realized my body metabolizes tequila quite well. So unlike some other spirits, it doesn’t give me a hangover, which is ideal if you’re flying and dehydrating your body already. I prefer a premium blanco tequila like Casa Dragones if I can get my hands on it, but Don Julio and Patrón will do the trick, too. I’ve also found having one tequila-based cocktail and a glass or two of wine on a night flight completely knocks me out if I’m facing a long-haul.” —Dan Koday, travel and lifestyle writer, NYC
“Much of my travel is within Mexico, where my lounge bartenders are best versed in tequila-based drinks. I always order a Paloma, as the grapefruit soda masks the taste of bottom-shelf tequila without being too sweet. It’s easy to crush two or even three before a flight, giving me the faintest of buzzes for a more pleasant takeoff.” —Jenny Hart, travel writer, Mexico City
“Honestly, my favorite airport lounge isn’t even technically a lounge, so this is a bit of a travel
hack for anyone who doesn’t have status in NYC! I love spending time at the TWA Hotel, located right across from Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. (It has a vintage airplane cocktail bar, Connie, where I shot my Mile High Cocktails videos for Cosmopolitan.) My go-to drink at TWA, or any airport lounge, is a Gimlet. Super fresh, simple, and delicious. If I’m flying at night, maybe I’ll grab a Boulevardier, the whiskey-centric version of a Negroni.” —Austa Somvichian-Clausen, travel and spirits journalist, Brooklyn
“A glass of Cabernet. I don’t tend to drink hard liquor while I’m in the lounge, but I will indulge in a nice glass of wine. It helps me relax, especially during a long layover.” —Dana Givens, travel writer, Newark, N.J.