9 Creative Cocktails to Elevate Your Holiday Flight

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Let’s be honest — traveling around the holidays is rough. After dealing with long security lines, flight delays, crowded gates, screaming kids, etc. you’re gonna need a drink. But not just any drink…you’d really like to manifest some semblance of calm with a touch of festive cheer.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of 9 creative cocktails you can make on the plane this holiday season!

Now, these aren’t your standard in-flight mixed drinks. You may have a, “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment with some, but you’ll also see we’re thinking a bit outside the box on others.

(Keep in mind you don’t have a full bar or cocktail shaker so you may have to get a bit inventive along the way.)

Airplane Cocktails - Red Wine Hot Chocolate
Why: Because while it’s a seemingly strange combo, it’s also particularly delicious.

Ingredients:

  • Red Wine
  • Hot Chocolate

Directions: Simply order both and ask for a spoon to mix thoroughly. The general consensus seems to be 1 part wine to 2 parts hot chocolate, but we’re gonna let you decide your optimal ratio here.

Improve it at home to tolerate those intrusive life questions: Marshmallows — all the marshmallows. Or for a more grown-up take, use mulled wine for an added hint of holiday spice.

Airplane Cocktails - Apple Jack
Why: Because if you arrive hammered, you don’t have to deal with your feelings.

Ingredients:

  • Jack Daniels (or other Whiskey)
  • Apple Juice

Directions: Simply order and mix over ice at your own desired strength.

Improve it at home to tolerate the inevitable political “discussions”: Opt for a spiced apple cider instead of apple juice and add a cinnamon stick to stir. You can even drink this one hot to really warm up your frosty heart.

Airplane Cocktails - Beer Cocktail
Why: Because you need to buck up that immune system — it’s gonna feel like an Arctic tundra when you step off the plane.

Ingredients:

  • Gin
  • Orange Juice
  • Lager

Directions: Order all 3, pour your desired amount of gin (usually a shot or so), double the amount of OJ, and top with lager.

Improve it at home to tolerate grubby, snotty, sniffling little cousins: Add a packet of Emergen-C. Traditionally, we’d recommend the Super Orange or Tangerine flavor, but hey, it’s the holidays…so go ahead and choose your own adventure on this one.

Airplane Cocktails - Cranberry Moscow Mule
Why: Because the thought of running into all those old high school classmates at the local bar causes such a visceral reaction that you need to start drinking immediately.

Ingredients:

  • Vodka
  • Ginger Ale
  • Cranberry Juice (or CranApple)
  • Lime Wedge (ask for a couple!)

Directions: Hope the flight attendant obliges when you order all three beverages, then audibly sigh in relief when she doesn’t roll her eyes. Mix your preferred strength of vodka into the ginger ale over ice, add a dash of cranberry, and generously squeeze in some lime.

Improve it at home to tolerate a potential run-in with your ex: Swap the ginger ale for ginger beer and double the vodka…definitely double the vodka. Or better yet, make it a Kentucky Christmas Mule and swap the vodka for bourbon.

Airplane Cocktails - Bloody Maria
Why: Because sometimes vodka just doesn’t cut it; you really need tequila to take the reigns during the holiday pandemonium.

Ingredients:

  • Tequila
  • Bloody Mary Mix
  • Lemon Wedge

Directions: You get the idea by now. Order & mix to the strength desired. Enjoy. Then order another.

Improve it at home to tolerate the “the incident” at this year’s work holiday party: Sriracha & fixins. No, not a celery stick — we’re talkin’ the good stuff: bacon, pickled green beans, cocktail shrimp, mini cheese & sausage skewers, stuffed olives, etc. Do this one right so you’ve got a smorgasbord of snacks to drown your sorrows.

Airplane Cocktails - White Wine Spritzer
Why: Because you can’t arrive drunk, per se, but you definitely need (at least) a buzz.

Ingredients:

  • White Wine
  • Ginger Ale
  • Lemon

Directions: Shrug your shoulders and look bewildered when your aisle seat neighbor judges you for mixing these two together, generally in a 3:1 wine to ginger ale ratio. Squeeze in some lemon to taste.

Improve it at home to tolerate your Uncle John’s ranting about the good old days: Who are we kidding? Don’t make this at home. If you’re not making a French 75 instead, we don’t know what to tell you. Why are you even listening to Uncle John in the first place? You’ve got better things to do.

If You’re Lucky

Certain airlines stock an additional spirit or 2 that can make for some unique cocktail options.

Airplane Cocktails - Hot Toddy
Why: If you have to fly during the holidays, you’re at least getting drunk while doing it.

Ingredients:

  • Jack Daniels Honey (currently stocked on Delta flights)
  • Hot Tea
  • Lemon Wedge (ask for a couple)

Directions: Order, mix at 1:2 honey whiskey to tea, squeeze in the lemon, sip, and sigh in relief. You feel better already don’t you?

Improve it at home to tolerate some lovely last minute Christmas shopping: Add 1/2 shot Domaine de Canton, a ginger-flavored liqueur.

Airplane Cocktails - Fireside Doc
Why: It’s a cold drink, but it’ll have you toasty in no time — you’ll need the lift to deal with flying Spirit.

Ingredients:

  • Fireball (currently stocked on Spirit flights)
  • Dr. Pepper

Directions: Mix to your desired strength and enjoy.

Improve it at home to tolerate awkward conversations with your mother-in-law’s cousin, twice removed: Add a splash of vanilla or caramel vodka. Additional booze is always a good idea at this time of year.

Airplane Cocktails - The Godfather
Why: Revenge is a “drink” best served cold.

Ingredients:

  • Disaronno (currently stocked on American Airlines flights)
  • Scotch

Directions: This one’s a piece of cake, just equal parts amaretto & scotch over ice.

Improve it at home to tolerate the inevitable family drama that permeates the holidays: Pour yourself a double and tune out by tuning in to Brando’s raspy inflection on-screen.

Final Thoughts

From all of us here at Upgraded Points, we wish you a very merry holiday season — Cheers!

And don’t miss our article on the 20+ best gifts (his & hers) for travelers!

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin currently maintains her status as Alex's adventure-seeking partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points through content creation & relationship management.
She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a two-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that - she's been gallivanting around the globe ever since (22 countries & counting)!

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