Hard Trip? Treat Yourself with the 11 Best In-Flight Cocktails

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We all know the feeling: you’re on your way home after an especially aggravating trip and you want—no, you need—a cocktail.

Unfortunately, airplanes aren’t exactly staffed with well-trained bartenders. Until we see flight attendants tossing liquor bottles a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail, you’re going to need some help picking a good in-flight libation.

Here are our best picks for your in-flight imbibing:

1. Delta – “It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere”

Orange juice, a splash of cranberry, and tons of rum? Count us in. This sunny cocktail was actually invented by one of Delta’s own flight attendants, Linda Kelly. Linda, wherever you are, we thank you.

2. Delta – “Bourbon Breeze”

Flying delta and you’re not a rum fan? Go for the Bourbon Breeze instead. Made with orange juice, cran-apple juice, Woodford Reserve Bourbon and finished with a squeeze of lime, this drink has less of an umbrella-drink feel than it’s predecessor.

3. LAN – “Pisco Sour”

Unfamiliar with pisco? It’s a grape brandy made only in Chile and Peru. Don’t let its colorless appearance fool you: this brandy packs a punch. LAN’s pisco sour is made with:

  • pisco from Peru
  • lemon juice
  • lime juice
  • simple syrup
  • bitters
  • egg whites

If you’re flying premium business class, expect a flight attendant to offer you a pisco sour on the house before takeoff.

4. Lufthansa – ”Lufthanza Cocktail”

Here’s a smart advertising technique if we ever saw one. The Lufthanza cocktail is perhaps just as well known as Lufthanza itself. This cocktail, made with apricot and orange liquors, is an absolute must-have when flying Lufthanza. Be bold and try it on the rocks (though it’s just as good with sparkling wine). 

5. Virgin Atlantic – Absinthe Offerings

Yes, you read that right: Virgin Atlantic serves absinthe on board. Ask for Le Tourment Vert and you’ll receive a tiny bottle full of stronger-than-strong green liquor.

6. Virgin Atlantic –’New’ New York Sour

At first glance, you’d think the ‘New’ New York Sour is nothing more than a regular old whiskey sour. Your flight attendant’s got a trick up her sleeve, though: she added a float of claret before serving.

7. Virgin Atlantic – “Virgin Redhead”

Maybe we misjudged flight attendants. It’s tiring just to say the list of ingredients in a Virgin Redhead, let alone make one. Here’s the Redhead’s roll call:

  • Bombay Sapphire gin
  • créme de cassis
  • créme de framboise
  • raspberries
  • lemon juice
  • simple syrup
  • and (wait for it) champagne

After all that, how can you not try one?

8. Swiss International Air – “Gespritzer Weisser

If you’re flying Swiss International, you’ve got to try Switzerland’s wine. The Gespritzer Weisser obliges by combining a native Swiss white wine with a splash of soda.

9. Cathay Pacific – “The Cloud Nine”

Cathay’s mixologist attendants throw together a downright heavenly concoction of vodka, Cointreau and sprite. Add in a splash of lemon and taste: you’ll know immediately why this pretty cocktail’s named the Cloud Nine.

10. Cathay Pacific – “Pacific Sunrise”

Though not as famous as the pretty-as-a-picture Cloud Nine, this Drambuie and Champagne Duetz Brut Classic combo is as classy as a traveler could get.

11. United Airlines – Mai Tai Offerings

Sorry, East coast travelers: you can only grab one of United’s to-die-for cocktails going to and from the Pacific. After all, there’s no better way to start a Hawaiian vacation or a stay in San Diego corporate housing than with an authentic tropical Mai Tai (as authentic as you can be using tiny airplane bottles, that is).

Road warriors, we know you’ve got your own favorite up-in-the-air cocktails to share! Let us know: what’s your in-flight cocktail of choice?

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