Thursday, May 4, 2017
These Are the Best Airport Bars You'll Actually Want to Drink In
By Alison Datko
Cask & Larder
Because getting a little buzzed before your flight should not have to happen in a soulless, ugly place.
Aside from arriving on time and being fully prepared to go through security, there’s no better way to improve your experience in an airport than getting just a little bit drunk. Unfortunately, accomplishing this usually means one of two things: Pregaming before security (which, for the record, I do not recommend), or squeezing into an uncomfortable seat at one of those stale, fluorescent-lit establishments which could also double as a sad backdrop for tourist-themed stock photography. (You know the kind.)
Sometimes, though, out of the mass-produced monotony, a third option appears. It takes the shape of a shadowy pub, an intimate lounge, or an experimental diner with legitimate local charm. It’s the most cherished discovery of any frequent flyer: the good airport bar, where you can sit and have an overpriced beverage without thinking about how much your surroundings look like an Alien recreated that neon-blue bar from Cocktail but made it way more boring. These are the places that feel like real, non-airport bars—you know, the kind you actually want to visit. Here are a few of the country’s best.
This little Irish pub first opened on Chicago’s South Side in 1976, and its Midway sister—which channels the neighborhood-y vibes of a local watering hole with unpretentious ease—was born in 2002. Most everything in the joint is made of dark,
stained wood, and polaroids of regulars (yes, regulars!) are on display behind the bar. Perhaps most importantly, the staff know how to pour you a proper Guinness.
Louisville Regional Airport Authority
Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen
As the name suggests, this restaurant is designed much like a library (complete with button-tufted leather couches that are actually comfortable) where one can consume a whole lot of
bourbon—over 85 varieties of it. Book & Bourbon offers both standard and rare-label bourbons, a fine selection of Kentucky-brewed beers, and classic craft cocktails—plus a menu featuring distinctly
southern dishes. Because nothing will help induce your in-flight nap like fried green tomatoes and pecan pie paired with a Pappy Van Winkle on the rocks.
Cask & Larder
Cask & Larder
Cask & Larder
As an Orlando resident, I can confidently say it is about damn time MCO treated us regular fliers to a decent bar and sit-down restaurant. (No offense, Chili’s Too.) Cask & Larder, which originally opened in a location just north of the city,
is the creation of James Beard-nominated chefs Julie and James Petrakis. It boasts a spacious, patio-like ambiance (including an actual tree), local brews, craft cocktails, impressive snacks (like a charcuterie board and brisket sliders), and traditional-but-sort-of-fancy
southern plates and fixin’s. You can also—get this—eat a salad here that won’t make you depressed. It is truly great.
Hojeij Branded Foods
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
Gordon Biersch, which is a chain with locations across the country, specializes in serving German lagers and putting slightly gourmet spins on traditional bar food. This spot in SLC features a big ol’ horseshoe bar, multiple TVs, and a game
room with a pool table. What it lacks in local flavor it makes up for in space (which is unusual since we’re talking about airports here) and an absolutely stunning view of Utah’s Wasatch Mountain Range. Like your home sports bar, but with a way better view.
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
Pappadeaux’s is a chain with locations scattered mostly throughout Texas. But this is the one to visit because Houston Hobby Airport is always relatively dark inside and Pappadeaux’s is even darker (stained wood walls, muted lighting). The
experience from start to finish feels like a warm, fuzzy-edged dream. (Or maybe that’s the booze talking.) Anyway, if you really want to do things up right, park yourself at the horseshoe-shaped bar—if you’re lucky enough to snag a seat there—order a long
pour of whatever you please, and enjoy a dozen fresh Gulf Coast oysters, which are flown in daily.
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge
When in Nashville, do as the country music lovers do: Grab a burger and a beer, and listen to some live music. Tootsie’s—it even has a honky tonk-y name!—nearly always has live entertainment, and while it’s really just a simple bar with simple
pleasures, but that’s kinda what makes it so special.