Esquire's Official Guide To Airport Drinking
Important tip: You can get drunk during a layover.
BY Aaron Goldfarb | Nov 20, 2016 | Opinion
Everybody thinks they know how to drink at airports, since everybody drinks at airports—at least all the degenerates I know do. Because that's the thing: You need to drink at airports. Not necessarily because you're scared of impending air travel, perhaps not even because you're bored. But after the hassle of getting there, waiting in unyielding lines, and the indignity of removing your shoes and belt, and then standing like Jay Z while some TSA clown full-body scans your goodies ... your next thought is never, I wonder if Hudson News has any good Nora Roberts paperbacks? It's: Where is the quickest place to find alcohol? We all know where you drink is as crucial. The ambience. The fellow imbibers. Even bar shape matters. For me, though, my guide to airport drinking is best given by answering those classic six questions of journalism.
WHY ... are you drinking?
Because why not? If you're about to fly, there's virtually no reason you shouldn't be well-lubricated. Headed on vacation? Vacation starts NOW. A boring business trip? Yeah, you'll need a few Heinekens to get through that. Purchased a bereavement fare for grandma's funeral? Maybe you'll get a free vodka soda out of pity. Even if those don't apply, what else is there to do? Read US Weekly? Watch the interminable CNN stream on the airport TVs? Try to get the damn USD19.99/day Boingo WiFi to work so you can Instagram a pic of some grotesque fellow traveler?! OK, that does sound fun. But it will be even more fun if you're a few drinks deep.
WHEN ... are you drinking?
Whenever. Airports are like casinos in that time doesn't matter and the carpeting is always godawful. (They aren't like casinos in that, instead of comped drinks, a watery rum and Coke will run you USD15). People become so depraved at airports. 7 am? Screw it, I'll take an Auntie Anne's breakfast pretzel and, oh, why not add a Corona? In a way, it's weird the people who aren't drinking at airports. Especially nowadays when terminals are lined with more pubs than a Wild West boomtown and bar stool seating is far easier to snag than a popped squat next to the one outlet at your gate.
WHERE ... are you drinking?
It's no surprise it's called a "terminal," as layovers can feel like death sentences. So don't make your time even worse. Avoid restaurants that have co-opted the name and dignity of a celebrity chef. The Wolfgang Puck Express's Signature Limonata will always lead to a bad travel day. I likewise tend to avoid bars named after specific booze brands (I cite drinking at ATL's pathetic Samuel Adams Bar as the lowest point of my drinking career, and I've woken up from a blackout in Newark Penn Station before). My top recommendation is to skip bars altogether and locate those kiosks run by companies like Cibo Gourmet. Next to the prepackaged Cobb salads and turkey wraps is often beer. The prices are cheaper than any terminal bar and selection is often decent. Better yet, you don't have to hang with the sad lowlifes populating the Fly-Away Grille. Now who's the smart guy getting drunk in a massage chair at the terminal's Brookstone? You are.
WHAT ... are you drinking?
Besides bottomless brunches, airports are the only places civilised people actually order Bloody Marys. They're not even artisanal bullshit ones with fresh-pressed tomato juice and house-cured bacon swizzle sticks. Airports serve straight Mr & Mrs T's canned Bloody Mix and some Popov. If, like me, you hate drinking boozy gazpacho, you'll need something better. Not too much beer, as a full bladder is never your friend while flying. Instead, find a cheesy chain you'd never dare enter in the real world. Order something colourful and potent from their spiral-bound picture menu. Chili's is my personal choice as their margaritas are so big you'll feel like you're drinking from a salt-rimmed Stanley Cup. Sometimes you even get free chips and salsa (which, I suppose, you could spike with a vodka shot for an impromptu Bloody Mary).
WHO ... are you drinking with?
Look around and you'll quickly loathe every other airport drinker. They're poorer-dressed than you and have far worse taste in spirits (Drambuie, really?). But strike up a conversation and you'll find these are decent folks. Decent for what is hard to say. Certainly not networking with. The last thing you need is some Tulsa landman's business card crowding your wallet. And attractive women rarely fly solo at airport bars. I have no idea where they drink, but I'm guessing they can get into The Admirals Club without membership. Likewise, that bartender with the lanyard ID around his neck isn't going to appreciate you peppering him with inane mixology questions ("Are you using Carpano or Dolin for my Boulevardier?") So knock that off and just talk sports or rip on the airlines with whomever will listen. Or better yet, don't. Asocially dick around on your phone like you usually do when getting wasted. This is 2016 for Pete's sake.
HOW ... are you drinking?
Heroically. Don't listen to other people—and by that I mean "your mom" or "the Department of Homeland Security." You can get drunk during a layover. Shit-faced even. You just can't appear "drunk" when it's time to board. So even if you've polished off a few belts of bourbon at Ruby Tuesday's, or become the first person ever to do a full bar crawl in O'Hare's Terminal 3, you're going to have to still look like you won't cause trouble while at 30,000 feet. Empty your bladder, pop a Certs, don't lasciviously flirt with the person scanning your boarding pass, and try to make it down the plane's aisle without nailing every passenger in the kneecaps with your Samsonite Spinner. Once tucked into your seat you can buckle in, pass out, and—voila!—like a time machine, wake up at your destination.
What to eat with an airport drink? Nothing. Airport bars have some of the world's worst food. Don't tell me, "It's getting better." It's not.
What if I have to use the vomit bag? Do airplanes still give you those? All I see any more are copies of the "award-winning" in-flight magazine, typically with the crossword puzzle already worked by some jackass. That'll do in a pinch.
Should I pack my own booze? YES! Believe it or not, that's legal so long as each bottle is under 3 ounces. I usually fill my dopp kit with a handful of 1.7 ounce miniatures. Those with better foresight can acquire refillable bottles and load them with their favourite intoxicant. Now you're drinking Ardbeg Uigeadail while reading Hemispheres magazine. Classy!
From: Esquire US