Remember when airline travel used to be glamorous? Smart suits, fetching hats, and matching suitcase sets all combined to make flying feel like a pleasure, rather than a hassle. These days, with your yoga-pants-shoes-off-3-ounces-of-liquid routine, excitedly anticipating a flight feels like a distant memory, or a fantasy garnered from watching too much Mad Men.
Thankfully, the in-flight experience can be salvaged with a touch of class (and a bit of a buzz). Meet the Carry-On Cocktail Kit, a charming little collection of tools and ingredients ready-made to create a first-class, cruising-altitude cocktail.
Created by avid travelers and cocktail aficionados Eric Prum and Josh Williams of W&P Design, the Kit currently comes in two security-friendly iterations—the Old Fashioned, which includes aromatic bitters, cane sugar, and a muddler; and the Gin and Tonic, featuring Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. tonic syrup, a bar spoon, and a half-ounce jigger (the guys dropped a hint that a Moscow Mule kit, complete with small-batch ginger syrup, will be next). Both kits are tricked out with recipe cards, classy linen coasters, and enough ingredients for a round trip. Or, enough for you to whip up drinks for two…in case the attractive stranger sitting to the right is interested in toasting to a high-flying life of adventure.
Acquiring a kit (or ten) is the necessary first step. But don’t stop there in your quest for in-flight cocktail perfection. Prum and Williams have put together their top suggestions for serious in-transit concoctions, certain to make the skies even friendlier on your next flight.
1. Preview the Menu: “Most airlines post their in-flight drink menu online, including the brands of spirits they carry,” Prum and Williams advise. If you know what to expect, you can better plan which kit (and garnishes) to bring for your flights. Speaking of which…
2. Bring Your Own Garnishes: “Garnishes for cocktails are lacking on planes,” W&P explain. “Some have even done away with limes and lemons!” Rather than find yourself with citrusless cocktails (unacceptable), prepare and pack your preferred garnishes beforehand. Their suggestion: seal them in plastic wrap for optimal freshness and flavor.
Looking for ideas on what to bring with? An orange peel is classic for an Old Fashioned, as are lime wedges for that perfect G&T. But you can get even more creative. Williams and Prum suggest bringing citrus in the form of zest (orange, grapefruit, etc.), spices like cinnamon sticks, and fresh herbs for an aromatic and delicious cocktail. “We like sturdier varieties like rosemary — they’ll better survive a trip to the plane.”
3. Go Beyond The Basics: The beauty of this cocktail kit? There’s plenty of room for creativity. “There are off-label uses for the kits to create other unique drinks,” the two tell us.
Here are some of their favorite Carry-On Cocktail Kit hacks, all of which are getting us awfully excited for our next round of flights. Looks like we’ve got a lot of cocktailing to do:
The Garden G&T. Start with the Gin & Tonic kit, and carry on a mix of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, mint). Add all to your finished G&T.
The Cognac Old Fashioned. Using the Old Fashioned kit, substitute cognac for whiskey. Garnish with a strip of orange to create a New Orleans-inspired take on a classic cocktail.
The Tinto Tónico. Using the Gin & Tonic kit, combine the tonic syrup with club soda and red wine over ice for a riff on Spanish sangria.
The BBT (Bourbon, Bitters, Tonic). This is a mash-up of both kits. Order a mini bottle of bourbon, a club soda, and add both bitters and tonic syrup. Garnish with lemon.
Lauren Sloss is a San Francisco-based writer who is prone to stints in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Istanbul. Her work has appeared in 7×7, Lucky Peach, PUNCH, Tasting Table, Serious Eats and Salon, among others.