Unless you’re financially blessed enough to hitch a first-class ride, air travel can be rough. Once you’ve successfully schlepped yourself and your baggage to the airport, braved the TSA line and made a mad dash for the terminal, the following few hours doubtless hold a host of delights, including but not limited to crying children and cranky seatmates who, once they’ve finally stopped divulging their life story to you, will inevitably end up snoring at an ungodly volume for the duration of the flight as you attempt, unsuccessfully, to find a comfortable position in your seat. This is why we drink. One or two cocktails pre-flight if there’s a layover or delay, and another couple in the air for the sake of sanity. Next time you’re in the air, lift your spirits with one of these no-fuss in-flight cocktails.
Calimocho (available on Virgin America)
The Calimocho (alternatively spelled Kalimotxo) is a sweet chilled cocktail comprised of red wine and Coca-Cola served on the rocks with a splash of lemon. The drink was developed as a partnership between the airlines and Morgans Hotel Group as an homage to Spain and California, featuring the wine and fruits Virgin America’s hometown is known for.
The Presbyterian is most commonly made of Scotch, ginger ale and club soda, though rye whiskey or bourbon can be substituted for the liquor base. The ginger ale and club soda aren’t only delicious, but may help to ease your stomach if you’re prone to stomach aches from flight jitters (though if you’re prone to altitude sickness, it’s probably best to avoid drinking altogether).
Ginger Sunrise (available on Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines highlights some of the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer when it comes to its food and beverage menu, including wine from Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington state and beer from Alaskan Brewing Company. The airline partnered with Seattle craft distiller Sun Liquor to concoct this cocktail, a twist on the Gin Buck, with Sun Liquor Hedge Trimmer Gin, ginger ale, orange juice and a lemon wedge on the rocks.
Similar to the Presbyterian, the Leap Frog is another simple, tasty cocktail that’s kinder on the stomach than some. While the Presbyterian is traditionally made of equal parts liquor and mixer, this drink’s strength depends entirely upon how much the attendant pours. It consists of three basic ingredients: ginger ale, gin and a slice of lemon.
The Cape Cod may not be anything fancy like some of the luxury homes and summer cottages that line its shores in Massachusetts, but sometimes it’s the simple things that are the best. Also known simply as a vodka-cran or cranberry vodka, that’s exactly what this drink consists of, and it’s delicious.
According to stone cold science, this one may be the best yet. Studies have shown that the loud noise of airplane engines can reduce our ability to taste flavors by as much as 30 percent. However, that doesn’t seem to apply to umami, which is the base flavor of this magical tomato juice and vodka elixir. The other great thing about a Bloody Mary is it has a host of possible variations depending on your taste: add some sriracha, pepper, olives or asparagus to punch things up.
Bonus tips: If you’re feeling creative—or want to save a couple bucks—many of these drinks can be made right in your own seat. Also, if you do decide to order one up, be sure to get a double. The price is usually only nominally higher, and most airlines pour pretty light, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Have a favored in-flight beverage of your own that wasn’t listed? Let us know in the comments!