Buzzworthy: 9 great spots to grab a drink in the airport

Nov 23, 2019

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Travel is tough, especially during peak times. And if there’s a delay, travel can be even worse. Sometimes, you just need to get away from the crowds and have an adult beverage. The good news is that U.S. airports have been busy giving their restaurants and bars major upgrades that encourage you to eat, drink and be merry before your flight. I spend an inordinate amount of time in airports, so below I’m sharing nine bars you should check out on your next trip.

Related reading: These are the cheapest (and most expensive) airports in the US

In This Post

One Flew South

This restaurant’s cocktails were created under the theme “Salute to Aeromarine,” which pays homage to Aeromarine Airways, an airline that flew from Miami to Nassau and Havana so wealthy guests could drink legally during the Prohibition. At my number one airport restaurant, one of my personal favorite cocktails is the Nearest to Happiness, made with Uncle Nearest 1856 premium whiskey, Lillet Rouge, lemon, simple syrup and muddled blueberries and mint. Or the OFS Old Fashioned — made with Four Roses Bourbon, Demerara sugar, angostura bitters and Peychaud’s bitters. Located at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Concourse E right before the food court, it also offers a great selection of global wines, craft beers and sake.

Bleu Mediterranean

Sure you can eat at this restaurant and bar, with locations at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s (DFW) Gates A9 and D36, but the drinks are the star here. The bartenders use the freshest ingredients to craft custom cocktails including Lady Marmalade, made with Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Grand Marnier, orange marmalade and pink grapefruit, or the Melon Breeze, a blend of Tanqueray Gin, mint, watermelon and apple juice. There’s also a great selection of craft beers, global wines and premium liquors. 


Beaudevin at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. (Photo courtesy of HMSHost)
Beaudevin at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. (Photo courtesy of HMSHost)

If you’re in the mood for a nice glass of wine or Champagne, this wine bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport is the place for you. You can have a 3oz, 6oz or 9oz glass of wine, or even a bottle. Among my personal favorites of the 30 global varieties served here are Cakebread Chardonnay, Blackbird Vineyards Arriviste Rosé, Santa Julia Sustainable Malbec and Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco. If you’re hungry, you can pair your wines with small plates. Beaudevin is located across from the United Airlines Polaris Lounge in Terminal 1 next to Gate C17.

Surdyk’s Flights Wine Market & Bar

This local favorite spot that opened in 1934 also has locations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) in Terminals 1 and 2. Enjoy wines from around the world — either by the glass or in flights of three — along with beers on tap. You also have your choice of classic cocktails — such as a Moscow Mule, an Old Fashioned or a Mojito — or a signature drink such as the First Glass, made with Valdoro Prosecco, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and a wild hibiscus flower.


(Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

United Airlines and partner OTG Management partnered to completely transfer the food, beverage and retail options at Newark-Liberty International Airport’s Terminal C’s beverage, food and retail offerings. One of them is this spot, near Gates C120-139, that claims to be New Jersey’s largest tequila bar. You can choose from 200 tequilas — including Clase Azul Ultra Anejo, which can runs up to $2,400 a bottle — along with mezcal. You can also enjoy a variety of street tacos. If a tequila shot isn’t your speed, ask your mixologist to make you a signature cocktail such as El Jefe’s Margarita, made with Clase Azul Anejo, Mandarine Napoleon XO, agave nectar, a splash of Veuve Clicquot and fresh-squeezed lime juice served in a crystal margarita glass rimmed with Amethyst Bamboo Korean sea salt.

Related reading: TPG Special Report: The Best and Worst US Airports of 2019

Lounge 5280 Wine Bar

This cocktail lounge is located at Denver International Airport (DIA) on the upper Mezzanine level in the center of Concourse B. Aside from being a great respite from the airport masses, the Lounge features 53 hand-selected wines that come by 6- and 9-oz pours and bottles, high-end and craft liquors and Colorado-made craft beers. Cocktails include the Mile High Manhattan, made with Breckenridge Bourbon or the Colorado Goat Gimlet, made with Goat vodka. You can also enjoy snacks and small plates with your drink choices.

Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen

The Peaches and Beam served at XXX.
The Peaches and Beam served at Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen. (Photo courtesy of HMSHost)

Are you a bourbon connoisseur? Then this restaurant, located in pre-security on the upper level at Louisville International Airport (LOU) is going to be your favorite. Concessions operator HMSHost has partnered with bourbon distilleries in the region to allow customers to sample nearly 90 bourbons. Popular drinks such as the Manhattan or the Mint Julep are available, but consider trying the Peaches and Beam, made with Jim Beam, peaches, basil and apple. Local craft beers from Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. and others are also available for your drinking pleasure.

Related reading: 10 airport restaurants so good you won’t want to leave the terminal

Sky Azure

This jewel of a cocktail bar is tucked away at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) pre-security on the second level of the observation gallery between Concourses B and C. Not only does it boast nice views of the tarmac, it also has a nice selection of local and international craft beers and a smaller selection of wines. But where it shines is when it comes to its cocktail list. You can enjoy classic cocktails, but why not try out drinks such as the Orange Crush (Skyy Blood Orange Vodka, fresh-squeezed orange and Sierra Mist soda) or the Cuke (Effen Cucumber Vodka, muddled cucumber, simple syrup, and ginger beer)? You can even try a selection of adult coffees, including the Keoke, made with Kahlúa, Hine Rare, Tia Maria and coffee.

United Airlines Polaris Lounge

The United Airlines Polaris Lounge bar at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
The United Airlines Polaris Lounge bar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

This may be cheating on my part, since you need to be flying in United’s international premium cabin for access to this lounge, but after getting a sneak peek of the lounge right before it opened in November 2016, I decided to include it on this list. The lounge offers premium wines by the glass, craft beers or their choice of custom cocktails, including the London Spritz, a twist on the Pimm’s Cup, or the Paper Airplane, made with Maker’s 46, Aperol, Amoro Nonino, fresh lemon and a paper plane balanced on the rim of the glass. All drinks are made with premium or craft alcohol and fresh ingredients.

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