‘Crew juice’ & other cocktails you should drink when flying


Written by:

There is a time-honored tradition among flight attendants to create alcoholic concoctions known as crew juice. These are drinks made with whatever can be found aboard the aircraft. We follow all Federal Aviation Authority regulations, of course, but that doesn’t mean we can’t mix up a mean cocktail.

If you’ve flown at all in the past 30 years, you know that the airplane bar cart is not only minimalist, but uninspired as well. Top-notch sommeliers are hired to source the fine wines found in first-class and business-class areas, while those of us who enjoy a mixed drink, whatever cabin we may be flying, are for the most part ignored.

Enter crew juice. The nickname of these crew cocktails hearkens back to a time before I earned my wings, and I have been told that the flight attendants of yore mixed these drinks before deplaning and consumed them en route to their layover hotels. I may have even heard a pilot issue a crew juice challenge: First-class flight attendants vs. coach. May the better drink win.

While such shenanigans were likely to break many airline rules, they did have a silver lining: Flight attendants have pondered the possibilities and come up with cocktails a little more inspired than a vodka soda or rum and Coke.

Then there is the next level of inflight mixology, which means there is actual preparation before flying. Unlike buying tickets and packing, this type of prep is fun. Knowing that you not only know what will be available on your flight but are prepared to upgrade it at 30,000 feet will give you something to look forward to and savor once you are in the air.

The FAA Rules on Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages, as with any liquids in your carry-on bags, must be less than or equal to 3.4 ounces of liquid. Mini bottles of alcohol must fit comfortably in a single quart-sized bag, and you are prohibited from consuming alcohol on board unless it is served by a flight attendant. For more details, the law is here.

Many airlines have no regulations against a flight attendant serving you your own alcohol. This is a little-known workaround to paying the high cost of inflight spirits, as well as a way to enjoy more interesting options than what is available onboard. I have never heard a flight attendant at my airline refuse to serve a passenger their own alcohol. If someone appears intoxicated, then, of course, they are cut off. That, too, is an FAA regulation.

How to Prep Delicious Drinks on a Plane

You know what you like in spirits. If you choose to pack your own minis, all it takes is a trip to a local liquor store. If you like to experiment, this is a good time to try something. I have frequently found mini versions of spirits (I’m talking to you, peanut butter whiskey) that I wanted to try but balked at investing the bucks for a big bottle. 

Next, think about the mixers. 

Simple syrup: Raid an airport restaurant for some sugar packets to mix with water aboard or, if you are bougie, bring your own sugar cubes. Food52 offers a recipe for Angostura sugar cubes for Champagne cocktails if you have the time and inclination to make them. Etsy is an excellent source of flavored sugar cubes and artisanal bitters. Bitters are generally packaged in small bottles, so the 3.4-ounce maximum shouldn’t be an issue.

Another fun find comes from Hail M Cocktails. In addition to seasonal small-batch syrups and bitters for craft cocktails, they offer micro-infusions from all-natural fruits, herbs, and flowers. They are simple to use: Just steep in spirits for a cocktail or sparkling or flat water for a mocktail. Your drink will be ready in five minutes. (You can steep it longer according to your palate.) 

Says owner “Mary”: “Flight attendants love them!  The Old Fashioneds are easy — just add bourbon and then ice. The fruit infusions are great with G&T, Vodka Soda, a Moscow Mule — and even just in water or club soda.” The infusions look like beautiful tea bags, take up little space, and travel well. 

Hail M’s micro infusions, along with a variety of teas, are found frequently in my lunch tote. Numi makes a lovely organic white rose tea. Not only does it taste good, but the faint rose scent gives me a moment of tranquillity when I close my eyes and breathe it in. When I’m flying as a passenger, I sweeten the tea, let it cool, then add ice and a mini of bourbon. 

Consider packing a small fruit salad for your snack or to use as garnishes. Sliced oranges, strawberries, frozen cherries, and blackberries make excellent choices.

Hail M

Some airlines offer lemon and lime wedges on their beverage cart; if yours doesn’t, a few packets of True Lemon and True Lime make excellent travel companions.

Spices are great drink additions too. Consider carrying small amounts of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, five spice powder, turmeric, and star anise.

Bento boxes with small containers for condiments are one storage option, as are day-of-the-week pill containers. Craft and dollar stores usually carry very small bottles as well. 

Have you heard of the snackle box trend, in which you fill a tackle box with treats such as charcuterie and chocolates? Tackle boxes always make great containers. I’d highly recommend packing one with snacks to accompany your inflight cocktail.  

Snackle box

IFKYK: Complimentary Perks

If you know, you know. I love the look on a passenger’s face when they realize they are sitting in one of the seats that come with a free cocktail. Who doesn’t love free stuff? Most frequent flyers are familiar with the perks airlines offer,  but many people aren’t. 

Some passengers have paid extra for an economy seat with more legroom, while others were assigned those seats randomly. Due to luck of the draw, you may find yourself in premium economy. Delta, American, and Alaska Airlines offer complimentary cocktails in these seats. They are most often the first few rows after first or business class. Sometimes they are the window seats as well. If you can’t find the information from your airline’s website, ask a flight attendant. 

A look at the bottom of Southwest’s in-flight drink menu will alert you to their free drink holidays. In past years these days have included New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Southwest’s birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, and the ever important anniversary of Southwest’s credit card.

Beer and wine is free in economy on many international flights. Some airlines offer free spirits during meal service as well. Check your airline’s website to be sure.

Offerings Aboard

In addition to what’s posted on the Web, you can usually find a menu of your airline’s beverage offerings on a card in your seatback pocket. Sometimes there is a QR code you can scan as well. If you’d prefer to test the friendliness of your flight attendants, wait until they are at your row and offer you a drink. Ask them, “What do you have?” After they have rattled off half a dozen items, ask for something like peach juice or pineapple soda.

I’m kidding. Don’t do that!

For years I wondered why occasionally passengers would ask me for peach juice. Then I worked a flight back to the United States from Ecuador, and what do you know? We were catered with peach juice. Occasionally you will find specialty items when traveling out of certain countries, but generally the offerings are far and few between.

Available spirits usually include vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, whiskey, and scotch. Some airlines offer liqueur options such as Bailey’s Irish Cream, Amaretto di Saronno, and Kahlua, and I’ve heard tell that Delta offers Buffalo Trace Distillery Bourbon Cream on select flights. Be still my heart.

On select flights, Delta also offers a Tip Top Old Fashioned Cocktail

Mixers available generally include cola, diet cola, a lemon-lime soda, club soda, tonic, apple, cran-apple, orange, and tomato juice. Flavored sparkling waters are more recent additions to many airline menus, and most include bloody mary mix as well.

Kudos to Delta for its new collaborations with diverse and small suppliers such as the nation’s first Black-owned distillery, Du Nord Social Spirits, and the artisans at Filthy Food. Filthy’s Bloody Mary Mix and Du Nord Foundation Vodka are now available on many Delta flights.

Crew Concoctions

Now for the fun part. While our crew concoctions may have roots in crew juice, they have evolved into drinks that can be enjoyed by all 21-and-over passengers. Be warned: Many flight attendants have little to no knowledge of cocktails or mixology in any form. They may look at you strangely when you ask for an odd combination; just smile, be nice, and say thank you. That (and chocolate) goes a long way. 

French 75

Add half a mini of gin to 3 ounces of Champagne or sparkling wine. Sweeten with a little simple syrup and add a squeeze of lemon or half a packet of True Lemon.

French 75

Rum Punch

Pour rum, orange juice, and cran-apple juice over ice. Give it a good stir. If you’ve prepared, add some orgeat or falernum and a slice of orange. 

Rum Punch

Espresso Martini

Add a packet or two of decaf coffee to a cup of black coffee to strengthen the flavor. Sweeten to taste. Let cool. Add one mini of vodka and one mini of Kahlua to an ice-filled cup. Top with coffee and stir.

Espresso Martini

Bailey’s Milk

Add milk to your cup (or glass, if you’re lucky enough to be in first class) and top with Bailey’s Irish Cream. 

Bailey's Milk


Add one mini of vodka to an ice-filled glass. Top with orange juice and a couple containers of half-and-half. Stir.


Kentucky Coffee

If you want to impress your Insta friends, ask for a few extra napkins and an additional package of Biscoff cookies. Crush one of the cookies in the napkins and rim your cup with the crumbs. Clean up your mess and add one mini of bourbon and half a mini of Kahlua to your coffee. Stir in sweetener to taste and a couple containers of half and half.

Kentucky Coffee

More from MediaFeed:

Like MediaFeed’s content? Be sure to follow us.

This article originally appeared on AlcoholProfessor and was syndicated by MediaFeed

The 10 most popular cocktails in the world

The 10 most popular cocktails in the world

If you like nothing more than working your way through the cocktail list at your local bar, you’ll have strong views on which of the menu’s boozy concoctions are the best. But how do they compare to the official list of the most popular cocktails in the world? According to lingerie and swimwear company Pour Moi, which analyzed more than 100 million Google searches over the past 12 months to compile their Cocktail Report, these are the cocktails people across the globe are searching for the most.

The 2021 Cocktail Report doesn’t only reveal the most popular cocktails in the U.S., breaking down the data analysis by state, but it also reveals the top drinks on the global map. From the minty mojito to the creamy piña colada, here are the top 10 most popular cocktails in the world.

MarianVejcik/ istockphoto

Global searches over 12-month period: 2.8 million

The national cocktail of Cuba is a hit around the world, with fans in France, Japan, Belgium, the U.K. and Australia. With only five ingredients (rum, sparkling water, sugar, lime and fresh mint), the mojito is a simple and beloved summer drink. The origins of this cocktail are a matter of debate. According to Culture Trip, it may have been invented by English pirate Sir Francis Drake in the 1500s or African slaves working in the fields of Cuba.

sveta_zarzamora / iStock

Global searches over 12-month period: 3.8 million

Drinkers in Texas, Louisiana and Missouri can’t get enough of daiquiris, and this rum-based cocktail is also popular in the U.K., Germany, France, Australia and Canada. One of the six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury’s classic “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” it’s one of the world’s most popular cocktails and also one of oldest. According to The Distilled Man, it dates back to the 1900s, when it was believed to have been invented by an American mining engineer living in Cuba.

Although you might picture something bright and fruity when you hear “daiquiri,” the classic recipe consists of just a few basic ingredients: rum, simple syrup, lime juice and ice.

Sanny11 / iStock

Global searches over 12-month period: 4.3 million

The refreshing caipirinha, which essentially means “country little girl” in Portuguese, is considered to be the national cocktail of Brazil and is also popular in Germany, Brazil, France, Italy and Mexico. To a base of cachaça, a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice, you simply add lime, brown sugar and ice. The key to the caipirinha is achieving a perfect balance between the tart citrus, sweet sugar and the alcoholic strength of the spirit, per Difford’s Guide.

Mateusz Gzik / iStock

Global searches over 12-month period: 4.4 million

The Long Island iced tea topped the list for 13 states, including Iowa, Kansas, Montana and Pennsylvania. It also gets high search volume in Australia, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands. This is one for hardcore liquor lovers. With only a small amount of soda as a mixer and a whopping 22% alcohol concentration, it bears little resemblance to its booze-free namesake.

As Culture Trip explains, the origins of the Long Island iced tea are hotly disputed. Was it invented by Old Man Bishop, a native of a Kingsport, Tennessee, community known as Long Island, during the Prohibition era? Or was it first created in a 1972 cocktail competition by a bartender from Long Island, New York, named Robert Butt?

bhofack2/ iStock

Global searches over 12-month period: 5.5 million

The U.K. searched for “espresso martini” more than any other country, but it’s also highly sought-after in Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and Denmark, making it one of the most popular cocktails in the world. This cold, coffee-flavored drink — made with vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso — isn’t a true martini, as it contains neither gin nor vermouth. But lots of other cocktails use “martini” in their names, so why not?

MaximFesenko / iStock

Global searches over 12-month period: 6.9 million

Eight U.S. states are avid “Negroni” Googlers — Maine, Vermont, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California. This Italian cocktail is also popular in the U.K., Brazil, Australia, Argentina and Sweden. Of course, it is well-loved in its birthplace of Italy, too, where it is traditionally made by combining one part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari, and then garnished with orange peel.

CabecaDeMarmore / istockphoto

Global searches over 12-month period: 7.6 million

Idaho, Wisconsin and Maryland are the sangria hot spots of the U.S., but international fans comes from as far afield as Japan, Colombia and the U.K. This cocktail is well known for its Spanish roots, where people concocted a mixture of brandy, red wine and fruit, supposedly to stay hydrated when water wasn’t healthy to drink during the Middle Ages. After the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, it became popular in the U.S.

gorchittza2012 / iStock

Global searches over 12-month period: 8.2 million

With the romantic description “Italian sunset in a glass,” it’s no surprise that the Aperol spritz is one of the most popular cocktails in the world. It originated in the city of Padua and has become the must-drink cocktail in many countries in recent years, including Germany, the U.K., Poland, Australia and Canada. To make an Aperol spritz, fill a wine glass with ice, then add two parts prosecco, two parts Aperol and a dash of soda water. Finish with a slice of orange.

bhofack2/ iStock

Global searches over 12-month period: 10.5 million

Nothing says tropical vacation — or dancing in the rain — quite like the always-popular piña colada. It hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where it was created by bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero at the Caribe Hilton in 1954, per Forbes.

The frothy, fruity blend of rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice is the most Googled cocktail in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Illinois, Virginia, New Jersey and Florida, and its global fan base includes Russia, India and Spain.

Roxiller/ iStock

Global searches over 12-month period: 18.4 million

India and Israel boast the most fans of this cocktail, closely followed by the U.K., South Africa and Pakistan. In the U.S., this passionfruit-flavored cocktail has fans all over the nation, from North Dakota to Alabama. Made with vanilla-flavored vodka, Passoã, passion fruit juice and lime juice, it’s traditionally accompanied by a chilled shot glass of prosecco.


This article
originally appeared on 
SimpleMost.comand was
syndicated by

AlexPro9500/ iStock


Featured Image Credit: Depositphotos.com.