9 In-Flight Coast-To-Coast Cocktail Hacks

Be a mile-high mixologist on your next transcontinental jaunt. Mix up these 9 coastal favorites and be the life of your section, even if you’re in the middle seat.

1. No Sleep Till Manhattan

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A Manhattan is a classic drink, but it’s a tall order when you’re limited to what’s on hand. Toss in a little Brooklyn spirit and you get this variation:

• Pour two shots of whiskey into a glass. (Scotch if it’s available!)
• Add four shots (or half a glass) of red wine as a vermouth replacement. Works best with Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
• Add a single shot of citrus … can either be a citrus drink or soda, or if you’re feeling adventurous, some cooled citrus tea.
• Pair with some wine and cheese and imagine you’re either in a rooftop bar in Manhattan, looking out over the gleaming cityscape, or at a hip dive in Brooklyn, showing off your skinny jeans.

2. To Lemon Drop In L.A.

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The Lemon Drop Martini is a West Coast favorite. With a little bit of substitution and improvisation, it can be an in-flight favorite, too.

• Pour two shots of vodka into a cup with ice.
• Add in four shots of lemon juice, or lemon soda. If your flight offers garnishes, you can squeeze your own with a few slices of lemon.
• Add a packet of sugar (or less, depending on taste).
• Cover and shake, then pour into empty cup without ice.
• Enjoy, especially if you’re approaching LAX or SFO.

3. Airborne Algonquin

Edsel Little / CC BY-SA 2.0 / flic.kr

The Algonquin is named after the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan, known for hosting the snarky elite of the literary and theatrical world. This version’s wit isn’t quite as dry as the original, but I’d rather have a cocktail in the air than in a hotel bar, personally.

• Pour two shots of whiskey (rye if it’s available!) into a cup with ice.
• Add in three shots of white wine and two shots of apple juice.
• Add in two shots of pineapple juice (if it is available)
• Cover and shake vigorously. Drink up and try to think of a clever bon mot about your seatmate.

4. San Francisco Treat

Shari’s Berries / CC BY 2.0 / flic.kr

A San Francisco Highball is a wonderful summer drink, and if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, it makes a great cocktail to kickoff a long weekend or a vacation out west.

• Pour two shots of vodka into a cup with ice.
• Add in two shots of a cream liqueur. (Bailey’s works great.)
• Ask for a banana. Alternatively, get a banana in the airport when you’re waiting for your flight and bring it on to the plane with you.
• Take one half of the banana and dice it soundly. Discard the other half (or eat it! Or offer it to the person sitting next to you!)
• Mix in the diced banana, then top the drink with orange juice.
• Cover and shake well, then enjoy this relaxing west coast reward.

5. Boogie Down Bronx

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The Bronx was a golden age cocktail that lost ground to its famous Manhattan neighbor as the years passed. But it’s simple and delicious, and perfect for a mid-flight revival.

• Pour two shots of gin into a cup with ice. (We strongly suggest Bombay Sapphire with this one, so if you’re flying Virgin America, you’re in luck.)
• Add three shots of red wine, the dryer the better.
• Add in two shots of orange juice.
• Cover and shake soundly.
• Pour out into empty cup without ice.
• Put on some classic hip-hop and drink up.

6. Sweet Home Chicago

Malmaison Hotels / CC BY-ND 2.0 / flic.kr

Let’s not forget Chicago, and it’s namesake cocktail. A drink with as much kick as Chicago itself, this libation is perfect for holiday season flights to and from the Windy City.

• Pour two shots of scotch into a cup with ice.
• Add in two shots of orange juice, cover, and shake.
• Pour out into empty cup, keeping out the ice.
• Top off with sparkling wine.
• Toast to the Cubs and the White Sox, Bill Murray, the Willis Tower, and Ferris Bueller.

7. Mile-High Long Island Iced Tea

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Long Island Iced Tea was developed in Long Island, New York in the ’70s (according to most mixologists). While there’s lots of different ways to mix one, here’s a great variation that you can make on-board:

• Mix one shot tequila, one shot rum, one shot vodka and one shot gin.
• Combine a fourth of a can of cola with half a can of lemon-lime soda, over ice.
• Pour the alcohol into the soda mix.
• Add a splash of orange juice.
• Enjoy a little slice of New York living high above the clouds. Make sure you have a snack with this one!

8. The Harvey Skybanger

Edsel Little / CC BY-SA 2.0 / flic.kr

The Harvey Wallbanger was named after a Hollywood surfer and invented in the ’50s by historic mixologist Duke Antone. Here’s how to get your flight banging with just a few ingredients.

• Pour two shots of vodka into a cup with ice.
• Add in four shots of orange juice, cover, and shake.
• Top with vanilla or cream liqueur (Bailey’s) and a dash of sparkling wine.
• Have a sip, and promise to yourself that you’re going to take surfing lessons the moment you land in L.A.

9. Manhattan Mule

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The Moscow Mule introduced America to vodka when it was first poured in Manhattan in the ’50s. Here’s an in-flight tribute, perfect for when you’re flying toward JFK during the wintry months.

• Pour two shots of vodka into a cup with ice.
• Mix in three shots of ginger ale.
• Top with a shot of lemon-lime soda (Sprite works great).
• Mix with a straw, then raise a glass to both the East and the West.

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