My friend Jenny Adams, the most deadly of all Jenns, once posted a brilliant piece of logic on Facebook. She defined the odds of our particular tribe of travelling boozehounds running into each other and plying each other with drinks using the tools and extras that we seem to always carry. It was a set of odds approaching unity. It was kind of amazing. However, failing that kind of happy serendipity how about sliding up to an airport bar and getting a drink?
I spend a lot of time in airports, running to airplanes, getting patted down, and hanging out in airport bars. Airports aren’t exactly a haven of great cocktails – though there was a really wonderful bartender at JFK in T5 who went above and beyond and went scavenging for ingredients to make me a rum milk punch last year. However, over the last year or so and in talking to other booze travellers a list of go to drinks has emerged that you can get anywhere and any time that you can assure yourself are pretty much impossible to make badly. After all when your flight has been delayed again, or you find yourself stranded by the Oh God of Missed Connections you really need a drink.
Allow me to digress for a moment. Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series once invented the Oh God of Hangovers. His reasoning for having it being an Oh God was that whenever you have a hangover you invariably say “oh god.” Thus a deity of whatever scale, whose purview is made up of things that are not exactly desirable to encounter will almost always elicit cries of “oh god” or similar sentiments. Therefore, if such a deity were to exist, would it not make sense to call them an oh god instead of a god? Anyhow, tangent over, back to the matter at hand.
What can you rely on to slake your thirst, while away the hours, and please the palate? What drinks will sooth your dire needs for anaesthesia and drive away the ennui of the halls of transportation? Most importantly, what can you get anywhere that will be tasty and satisfying, well at least not bad.
Bloody Mary, Red Snapper, Bloody Caesar, Bloody Maria
It’s pretty hard to screw up a Bloody Whatever, even ones made with a boring pre-mix can be easily doctored with that bottle of Tabasco and Worcestershire at the bar. Even without those options, it’s pretty hard to have a bad Bloody Whatever. Varying it up by adding gin to make it a Red Snapper, or tequila for a Bloody Maria help to keep it from getting monotonous and add options to the list. I won’t deny that a really great Bloody Mary is a wonderful experience. It is blessed to be like cold pizza for breakfast, you have to actively try to make a bad one in order to not be somewhat satisfying.
Gin and Tonic
No matter your views on colonialism, mercantilism, chartered companies, and empire, Great Britain left a few legacies that we can all savour to this day. In order to combat malaria, scurvy, keep crews of their ships complacent, and any other myriad maladies that might befall them in the Fever Islands as the West Indies were sometimes known, Africa, and the Indian Sub-Continent, various spirituous beverages became commonplace and made the taking of medicine easier. One of these was the gin and tonic. Three ingredients, that’s it. Absolutely impossible to screw up, refreshing, and crisp. The gin and tonic is a tribute to simplicity and its benefits. Even when you have nothing but gun tonic and slightly aged lime wedges, it still does the trick.
Another legacy of the Royal Navy and its efforts to combat scurvy the Gimlet makes use of that bottle of Rose’s lime cordial that seems to float around every bar. Whether you prefer it with rum, gin, or vodka it elevates an ingredient that gets sneered at all too often simply by making use of it properly. That and you can help turn that bottle of Rose’s and help your next fellow traveller out.
Photo by Billy Abbott
Gin and Angostura bitters, maybe some ice, if you can find a way to mess that up I bow to the magnificence of your ineptness. That would take some herculean efforts of alcoholic effrontery to accomplish. I mean you would have to be able to screw up opening a beer. I’m not saying that person doesn’t exist, but anyone that inept probably got plucked out of the gene pool a while a ago anyways.
Rum, Coke, lime juice. Even if all they have is sour mix, you can squeeze some of the limes from the garnish tray yourself. What, too lazy to finish making your own drink? Then you deserve your fate sir. Sit there and stew as you contemplate your failings as a human being.
Bloody Mary mix and a lager. Everything you need early in the morning or at the crack of noon. You know what else, it’s also big and cold. In fact, if they have those huge mugs of beer, double win.
Beer and Beer Cocktails
There’s always beer to the rescue. There’s also a shandy, you literally can’t screw up a shandy. Even sour mix is not totally abhorrent in a shandy. You just can’t fuck it up. The level of talent required to screw this up is brobdignagian. (hee hee I got to use brobdignagian) You have to have a PhD is fucking things up to get this wrong. We’re talking full re-tard here.
Now go forth, roam the airport bars of the world and have no fear. Just keep it simple and remember to be grateful that they let you drink in airports. Think about how much it would suck if they didn’t.