Best Flight Ever: A Bartender's Tips for Making the Perfect In-Flight Cocktail

in-air flights

“I love long flights!” said no one ever.

As if the never-ending TSA lines and long waits at the airport aren’t enough, we still have to deal with the actual flight. For many, the ultimate cure for the travel blues (and everything else) is a delicious cocktail.

Most airlines offer a decent selection of cocktails and juices, but when mixed, it’s nothing spectacular. With the right tools and a little bit of creativity though, you can create a world-class cocktail to help you cruise through your flight. Steven Huddleston, bartender at The Spectator Hotel in Charleston (and master of creating his own in-flight cocktails) says creating delicious drinks is a breeze.

“Everything you need for a cocktail is already on the plane. The key is to bring bitters,” he says. “Go to the liquor store and buy a few mini bottles. They easily go through airport security. On my trip to Miami, I drank Old-Fashioneds the whole way and it made my flight go a lot faster.”

Huddleston suggests bringing a few bottles of the Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters for variety. “Bitters are the glue that pull a cocktail together to make it delicious,” he says.

Another key, but overlooked ingredient is sugar.

“Airlines are always going to have sugar,” Huddleston says. “Ask for a few packets and some water and you can create your own simple syrup. It’s fresh and it saves money.”

If you’re willing to work a little harder for that perfect cocktail, you can also grab garnishes like cherries, or lemon and lime wedges from a terminal restaurant before boarding your flight. It may take a little more elbow grease, but rest-assured that your neighbor will be insanely jealous as he watches you sip your fabulous cocktail.  Check out a few simple recipes for classic drinks you can make on your next long flight. Cheers!


  • Gin
  • Lime Juice
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Ask flight attendant for two cups. Make sugar and water (for simple syrup) then add lime juice and gin to the empty cup. pour in ice and stir with spoon until very cold. 


  • Rye Whiskey
  • Peychaud's Bitters
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Sugar
  • Water

Ask flight attendant for two cups. In the empty cup, mix sugar, bitters and whiskey. Add ice and stir until cold. Use spoon to strain into empty cup. 


Old Fashioned

  • Bourbon
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Angostura bitters

Ask flight attendant for two cups, one with ice.  In one cup, mix the sugar, water (for simple syrup) and bitters together until smooth. Add ice and bourbon and stir. 


Whiskey Sour

  • Whiskey
  • Lemon Juice
  • Lime Juice
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Ask flight attendant for two cups. In one cup, mix the sugar, water (for simple syrup), lemon and lime juice until smooth. Add ice and whiskey and stir until cold. 

Irish Coffee

  • Hot Coffee
  • Irish Whiskey
  • Cream
  • Sugar 
  • Water

Add sugar and Irish whiskey to coffee and stir until sugar dissolves. Slowly pour in the creamer and enjoy!

Natrice Millerfood+drink