Winter storms already have airlines announcing snow-related delays and cancellations for Thanksgiving travelers. Add in long security lines, cranky passengers, and limited legroom—never mind the prospect of family holiday drama at the other end of the trip. Need a drink, yet?
Mid-air, $8 buys the ability to cobble together a simple cocktail with a mini bottle of booze and whatever free mixers are on hand. Think vodka and soda, rum and cola, a spiked coffee. In-airport drinks are even pricier. But bartenders say it's easy to get a better cocktail for less to enjoy during travel delays. Transportation Security Administration carry-on rules have no beef with alcohol, provided you're of legal drinking age, the bottles are 3.4 ounces or less, and the stash fits in the allowed quart-sized plastic bag. In air, however, Federal Aviation Administration rules require flight attendants serve all alcoholic beverages.
"It's something I just learned recently," said Seth Sempere, bar manager for Spur Gastropub in Seattle. His travel stash for a recent 16-hour trip to Italy included minis of bourbon, angostura bitters and a bit of maple syrup, enough to make several Old Fashioned cocktails.
Bringing your own minis can be far cheaper. The same 1.7-ounce nip that airlines charge $8 for is more commonly in the $2 to $5 range at local liquor stores, and bottles on the higher end of that range are usually craft or niche brands. "Two nips of whiskey and one nip of vermouth makes two Manhattans," Sempere said.