Our editors carefully select every product we recommend. We may earn a commission from these links. Learn more

Fly Boy: How To Make A Travel Cocktail Kit

Each and every year millions of us take to the sky for travel purposes, flying both transcontinental and transoceanic flights to our destinations of choice. And for those of us who’ve spent any extended period of time stranded in an airport terminal know how expensive the bar tab can get. Even on the flight itself, a standard highball can oftentimes host the same price tag as a craft cocktail at your local watering hole — but with low-brow booze and nowhere near the ambiance. This is no way to travel, which is why some brands have wised up to the notion of building pre-made cocktail kits with a “just add liquor” element.

Therein lies yet another cost-related dilemma because most of the pre-made cocktail kits aren’t cheap. We’re talking upward of over $20 before you even purchase the airplane bottles of liquor to accompany them — not ideal for those looking to actually save money throughout the trip. The solution? Well, with the right preparation and planning, you can craft a DIY travel cocktail kit with a little know-how. Plus, this method enables you to cater specifically to drinks of your choice with as much, or as little, necessary ingredients as you see fit — and for a fraction of the price. Here’s how it’s done.

The Travel Cocktail Kit

What You'll Need

What’s best about homemade cocktail kits is how easy most of them are to put together. Mainly because the majority of required “barware” in this instance can be found at home or in your local grocery store. It really all just depends on the type of cocktail you’re hoping to craft at 30,000 feet. Sounds great, doesn’t it? So as a brief primer, check out the list of items below for some insight to get yourself started.

Recommended Tools For The Trade

  • Recipe of choice
  • Metal tin to house everything (think Altoid sized)
  • 5ml sized bottle with dropper (for your bitters)
  • Either a 3/16” or 7/16” diameter wooden dowel
  • Citrus and honey packets
  • Sugar in the Raw
  • Salt packets (cocktail depending)

Now obviously, this is just the bare essentials of what’s possible. However, we typically suggest pursuing simplified cocktails as opposed to more elaborate versions. We’d also recommend investing in a miniature shaker if needed, but obviously, less is more in this instance.

We also couldn’t complete this section without a TSA disclaimer. Typically, as we all know at this point, liquids need to be separated into their own bag for security reasons. However, it’s really up to you on whether you choose to separate any and all liquids from your kit in this regard. Has it worked in the past? Of course, but nothing is guaranteed these days in the airport security line.


Putting Everything Together

Now, here’s the relatively simple execution strategy for putting everything together. Of course, the key here is to make sure everything fits neatly in your new carrying case so there are a few precautionary measures to conduct prior to wrapping everything up and stashing it in your trusty carry-on bag. Don’t worry, this doesn’t take long and if you’ve completed the necessary steps to procure all the items needed for your DIY cocktail kit you’re already more than halfway there.

  1. Print out your recipe card for the drink/drinks of your choice (or cut it appropriately) and tape it to the inside of the cocktail kit.

  2. Next, it’s time to fill those 5ml bottles with your bitters. Naturally, we suggest sticking with Angostura bitters as these are the industry standard for cocktails.

  3. After you have the droppers ready, go ahead and cut the wooden dowel to fit comfortably inside your kit, but not too much to where it won’t serve its purpose as a proper muddler.

  4. Finally, take the remaining items (sugar, citrus, and salt packets) and simply place them in the kit along with the other items mentioned. Obviously, the idea here is for everything (minus the booze) to fit in the kit. But when this is not possible, two cases might do the trick.

And that’ll do it. Pretty easy, right? Naturally, you’ll need to procure the ice and mixers from the airport terminal or the flight attendant themselves. But with the right equipment at your disposal, you can transform what would ordinarily be a highball into a crafted delight to help calm the senses while in transit.


5 Compatible Cocktails To Consider

Now that the strategy is clear, we can then adjust the basic ingredients for each DIY travel cocktail kit accordingly to match any one of the handfuls of drinks out there. Again, the key here is simplicity. And while we all like a properly-made whiskey-sour from time to time, no one wants you to be cracking egg whites next to them in coach.

With this in mind, we’ve gone ahead and outlined some of our favorite cocktail staples below along with the required ingredients for each drink.

Old Fashioned: Bulleit Rye

This is a must-have. Not only is it a classic cocktail in its own right, but functions as the perfect travelers drink thanks to its seemingly universally applicable use.

What You’ll Need

  • Bulleit Rye Airplane Bottles
  • Orange Citrus Packet
  • Bitters (in your 5ml bottle)
  • Maraschino Cherries (potentially from the airline)

Gin & Tonic: Bombay Sapphire

A staple in and of itself, the Gin and Tonic can either be deliciously refreshing or horribly boozy. Let’s opt for the former in this instance with some due diligence and the right ingredients — however basic they may be.

What You’ll Need

  • Bombay Sapphire Airplane Bottles
  • Lime Juice Packet
  • Lime Wedges
  • Tonic Water (from the airline)

Moscow Mule: Tito’s

While the odds of you getting handed a copper cup by the Flight Attendant may be slim to none, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the unique combination of ginger beer and vodka (if that’s your liquor of choice). Best to all, we wouldn’t shy away from enjoying one of these on an early flight either thanks to its “boozeless” finish.

What You’ll Need

  • Tito’s Vodka Airplane Bottles
  • Lime Juice Packet
  • Lime Wedges
  • Ginger beer (stored in a couple 50ml bottles)

Margarita: Patron Silver

Better question: who wouldn’t want to enjoy a fresh margarita or two while in flight? Yeah, we thought so. This is a more involved cocktail to make within the limited confines of the airplane but it’s well worth the planning and effort once finalized.

What You’ll Need

  • Margarita: Patron Silver Airplane Bottles
  • Lime Juice Packet
  • Lime Wedges
  • Salt packets (for the rim)
  • Agave nectar (stored in one 50ml bottle)
  • Mini Shaker

Whiskey Ginger: Maker’s Mark

Simple, straight-up and easy to make, here’s your opportunity to turn what would normally be a $12-$15 highball on the airplane into a relaxing easy-to-consume cocktail for a fraction of the price. Can’t go wrong here.

What You’ll Need

  • Maker’s Mark
  • Lime Juice Packet
  • Ginger beer (stored in a 50ml bottle)

Final Thoughts: Worth It?

You Bet

For the rest of the needed ingredients (ice, cups, straws, etc.) we’ll leave it up to you to procure them compliments of your airline of choice. We also realize there are more options than just the ones presented in this roundup. It’s simply our desire to present you with very notion that travel cocktail kits are indeed a possibility for the taking — whether it be a vodka soda or a  well-manicured Negroni.

Also, it’s our obligation to state that this in no way should be used as a means to encourage underage consumption on any airline. The standards on the ground remain the same while in the air so it’s imperative to consume these DIY kits responsibly. When handled responsibly, though, these can be a fun and anecdotal way to make some new acquaintances and even share your knowledge with fellow fans of the dram. Because everyone enjoys meeting a new single-serving friend from time to time.

The 15 Best Travel Pants for Men

Now that you’re mentally comfortable with carrying a DIY cocktail kit, it’s time to get physically comfortable with the right pair of travel pants. Just take a look at this roundup of the 15 best travel pants for men on the market today and scoop up a pair before the next flight.