The worst thing about traveling is the traveling part. Sometimes the only thing that gets me through an 8 hour haul is a couple of stiff drinks (and endless Netflix downloads of course). However, a plane is not a bar. Gin and tonics, rum and cokes, and vodka sodas will get the job done, but they're not going to distract me from the fact that I'm on a crowded plane next to a chatty old man. So in order to make my flying experience more enjoyable, I bring a little carry-on cocktail kit and elevate my drinking experience.
When I pack my cocktail kit, I skip the shaker, strainer, and jigger and just stick to the basics. Like fruits, sweeteners, and bitters.
Carry-on Cocktail Kit Options
Mini Liquor Bottles - If you prefer certain liquors, or don't want to spend a fortune on drinks, bring along your own. You can pack as many mini bottles of alcohol in your carry-on as you'd like. A typical tiny alcohol bottle is only 1.7 ounces, so shove as many as you can in that quart size bag.
For me, the best mini bottles to take are vermouth and triple sec since airlines don't typically sell them on a plane. At least not in coach. I also bring along top shelf liquors.
Citrus - If I only pack one item for cocktails, it's citrus. Citrus is an essential ingredient in most drinks. I pack wedges and/or strips of zest in a sandwich bag. I usually just take lemon and lime, but grapefruit and orange are excellent options.
Bitters - Bitters are my favorite additive, but they're difficult to come by on a plane. So I fill up a one-ounce dropper bottle with Angostura bitters and use it the whole trip.
Berries - Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, etc. can all be "muddled" with straws to make a delicious smash. Throw in some gin and a bit of club soda and you've got yourself a tasty little treat.
Olives - Grab a vodka and some tomato juice, then pop in some olives for a quick Bloody Mary. Or pack a mini bottle of vermouth in your carry-on and mix up a martini. If you don't use the olives in a drink, they make a perfect snack. (Optional: Pack a little spice bag to kick up your bloodies.)
Honey Sticks - Each stick contains about half a teaspoon of honey, which is the perfect amount for a mini cocktail. I usually pick up honey sticks at the local farmer's market, but you can find them in select stores. Some farms even offer different flavors like apple, peach, sour raspberry, and strawberry for a little extra pizzazz.
Herbs - I don't usually get this fancy, but sometimes I leave for vacation and have a bunch of herbs to use, so I take them along with me. I've packed mint for mojitos, basil for blackberry gin smashes, and rosemary for whiskey sours.
Easy 3-Ingredient Cocktail Recipes
Order: Bourbon + Sugar Packet
1) Pour sugar in cup
2) Add 2-3 drops of bitters + bourbon
3) Stir until sugar is dissolved
4) Add ice + orange zest
Order: Bourbon + Sugar Packet
1) Place sugar + mint in cup
2) "Muddle" with straw
3) Add bourbon
4) Stir until sugar is dissolved
Order: White Rum + Sugar Packet
1) Squeeze 3 lime wedges in cup
2) Add sugar packet
3) Stir until dissolved
4) Add ice + rum
1) Squeeze 3 lemon wedges in cup
2) Add honey stick and gin to lemon juice
3) Stir until honey is dissolved
4) Add ice + lemon zest (optional)
If your neighbors seem annoyed by your tray table mixology set, it's only because they're jealous.