While there is no such thing as flawless air travel, the place we often head to drown our sorrows over a missed connection or delayed flight – namely, the airport bar – is improving. Forget watery drinks and fluorescent lighting, and televisions blaring CNN. The new fleet of airport bars actually rival those beyond the tarmac. If for any reason you need to take the edge off of your next trip, keep your head up and glass raised. These are the best airport bars in the United States right now.
Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport is also home to this James Beard Award-nominated fine dining restaurant in Terminal E. Cocktails such as the Cab Calloway, made with 13-year-old oloroso sherry, apricot, Angostura bitters and dry vermouth, earned the drinks program a world’s best award at the 2013 Tales of the Cocktail in 2013.
Located in Atlanta’s international terminal the wine list and cocktails here are on point. If you’re a fan of craft cocktails, you’ve found your go-to spot at the world’s busiest airport. Best of all, since all of Atlanta Airport’s terminals are connected, without the need to go through security for each one, you can grab a drink here even if you aren’t flying internationally. Just make sure you keep checking those flight status screens.
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Denver International Airport’s cup runneth over with this New American bar and restaurant in a converted filling station in terminal C. Root Down serves locally sourced (there are two onsite gardens) and often vegan fare, and pours more than 20 Colorado craft beers and ciders, as well as signature drinks like the Beet Down, made with gin, beets, lemon, and mint.
While Denver may be best known for its killer beer scene, and there definitely is a great bar in the airport if you’re a hop head, winos should flock to Cru. This place has a wine list with over 300 bottles available, plus fantastic tasting flights and a great selection of cheeses to pair with whatever’s in your glass.
This sleek counter tries its absolute best to convince travelers they’re sipping Tattinger Lafrancise Brut someplace that isn’t the middle of a bustling airport terminal. If the black-and-white decor and baby grand piano don’t fool you into thinking you’re in a midtown Manhattan hotel bar, perhaps the solid wine list, Champagne cocktails, and plates of charcuterie and tartines will do the trick.
With 34 locations in the U.S. and Canada, this fleet of airport wine bars counts the founder of Sonoma’s Ravenswood Winery among its initial investors, and has fine-tuned pre- and post-flight imbibing. Branches offer flights of international wines and sell some bottles at retail, and offer food menus divided by size (and as such, by amount of time rushed travelers would need to finish before boarding).
This mini-chain of wine bars pours flights and glasses of nearly 30 wines, and serves a menu of French-Mediterranean accented dishes like prosciutto and melon salads, and smoked salmon tartines. There are branches at four domestic airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and Miami International.
While Ballast Point may now be the most famous brewery in San Diego, thanks to its recent 1 Billion Dollar sale, to many, Stone is the OG flag bearer for San Diego craft beer. The bar features 12 taps pouring 10 craft beers from Stone and 2 from whatever craft brewery Stone happens to be excited about at the moment. It’s the best place in the San Diego airport to experience San Diego craft beer.
Tootsies is one of Nashville’s most famous Honky Tonks, and it’s the perfect place to get a true taste of Nashville inside the airport. The best part of this bar are the local musicians who often perform. You don’t find that at most airport bars.
Cigar City has a cult following among craft beer geeks and with great reason, they have incredible beer. If you didn’t happen to have time to visit the actual brewery while in Tampa, this is the second best option. All of the beers are brewed specifically for the airport location, allowing you to try brews others will never have the chance to taste.
Run by famous TV Chef Michael Symon, this bar has an awesome selection of craft beers – featuring DC Brau Brewing company, as well as a great selection of wine. And being that the bar is run by Symon, the food is pretty terrific too.
Located in the international terminal, this bar features over 100 bottles available by the glass, an outstanding selection that makes waiting for any flight much more pleasurable. And if you happen to be flying out of Houston, we have good news, the bar is located there too.
An offshoot of a Venice Beach standby, this casual bar and cafe serves cocktails (including several Margaritas) and a few local beers alongside comfort food and California classics, such as the original location’s beloved fish tacos.
This LA institution finally has an airport outpost, serving great craft beer and playing awesome music. The taps change regularly, allowing even those who fly out of LAX frequently the opportunity to try something new each time they travel.
Cleveland’s most famous craft beer can now be found at the airport, and the bar also features the brewery’s outstanding food menu. During the colder months, delays can be common at the Cleveland airport, so at least there’s good beer.
At this beer and wine pub and retail shop in terminal 3, the list features mostly Californian wine (with the notable exception of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne) and craft beers and ciders from such labels as 21st Amendment, Modern Times, Speakeasy, and Sonoma Cider. The kitchen also serves delicious, seasonal New American plates such as salads, pizzas, charcuterie boards, and a tawny port affogato.
We can’t talk about craft beer bars without mentioning Rogue, who arguably are the first craft brewer many craft beer geeks tried. They even offer bottles and growlers to go!