There’s one thing that all travellers tend to do when they arrive at an airport no matter what the time – hitting the bar.

For those who are inclined to enjoy a tipple before boarding, experts at travel and lifestyle brand The Points Guy UK, explain there’s a reason we abandon all the rules about drinking before lunch.

‘The sense of time disappears, and the romance of travel hangs heavy in the air,’ says Nicky Kelvin, director of content.

‘Passengers from around the world converge from different time zones in a safe space, which often means the guilt of drinking or shopping is not present in the same way as it is in the outside world.’

Not only that, but there’s an even better experience to be had with some of your favourite liquors, because the taste changes when you’re up in the air.

Travellers tend to hit the airport bars no matter what the time of day as they throw the usual rules out the window for a tipple

Travellers tend to hit the airport bars no matter what the time of day as they throw the usual rules out the window for a tipple

‘Part of it is physical. The lack of humidity and air pressure interferes with our taste receptors, and engine noise also plays a part in dampening our sense of taste and smell. 

‘Then there’s the psychological side. Unless you’re on an all-work-no-play trip, there is usually a sense of excitement about what’s ahead. You’re on an adventure and it would be rude not to raise a glass to that,’ travel blogger Amanda Woods explains.

American Airlines’ wine sommelier Bobby Stuckey also agrees, explaining: ‘Our daily rhythms change when we enter an airport and get on a plane, so we’re entitled to have a cocktail earlier in the day.’ 

Wine and Champagne moments

When flying high the taste of champagne and wine can change, with Australia’s first master of wine, Michael Hill Smith advising the best ones that work up in the air.

Michael Hill Smith, who tastes wine on the ground and in the air, says wines that are more aromatic and boisterous like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc work best. 

Some research by German airline Lufthansa noticed that the Bloody Mary was more requested up in the air than beer

Some research by German airline Lufthansa noticed that the Bloody Mary was more requested up in the air than beer

‘Wines that have good lively fruit are good in the air, including Australian wines, which are noted for having really lovely intense fruit flavours,’ adds Michael. 

Thanks to the bubbles that bring out their aroma, Champagne and sparkling wines do well in the sky, though they generally won’t seem as aromatic or fulsome in the air. 

The Bloody Mary club

German airline Lufthansa noticed they were serving as much tomato juice as beer in the air and so turned to a Munich-based research organisation, The Fraunhofer Institute, for answers.

Researchers put people in a flight simulator complete with cabin pressure and engine noise and found that the subjects consistently rated tomato juice as tasting fresher and better in the fake plane than in a normal environment.

This flavour-packed cocktail smashes through any dulled sense of taste or smell, is packed with vitamins and minerals and is rich in lycopene, which has been shown to reduce inflammation.

Drinkers looking for the perfect G&T should opt for specialist gins that are perfected for drinking on a plane

 Drinkers looking for the perfect G&T should opt for specialist gins that are perfected for drinking on a plane

Sky-high gins 

British Airways released a gin that specifically designed to be consumed in the sky, so that they could perfect the taste for gin enthusiast travellers.

When it comes to picking a gin from the drinks trolley, Singapore Airlines’ Global Food and Beverage Director Antony McNeil says they look for a spirit with a balanced fresh flavour and light botanical notes. 

‘A little like wine, we look for gins that are less bitter and that work well for in-flight.’

Whiskey a go-go

When it comes to whiskeys, Scotches and bourbons, those with stronger aromatic profiles come out on top. 

Straight, on the rocks and a simple Scotch and soda are all popular choices. 

If you want to mix things up a bit, you can also make an egg-free twist on a Whiskey Sour with the simple ingredients you have to hand on the plane. 

Just add bourbon, sugar from a packet and the juice from some lemon slices and stir.



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