Between long security lines, tiny seats and baggage-check fees, the skies are more frustrating than friendly these days. Flight delays are perhaps the most agonizing part of summer travel, with many airports boasting little more than a Starbucks or sports bar serving watery beer. But don’t tear up your boarding pass just yet. After a nationwide search, we found bars and restaurants in four major airports where you can get a well-made cocktail while killing time. Now that’s what we call an upgrade.
Deep Blue Sushi, JFK International Airport, New York, NY:
A layover at JetBlue’s gleaming Terminal 5, packed with chic restaurants and shops, hardly feels like an inconvenience. Wait out a delay at Deep Blue Sushi (pictured above) drinking Asian-inspired libations, like the Ginfusion (gin, ginger, cilantro, lime juice) or the Shochu Berry Tea (shochu, green tea, cranberry juice, lemon juice).
One Flew South, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta, GA:
The cocktails at One Flew South warrant a stopover. The experienced bartenders here are serious about their drinks, including the refreshing Quetzalcoatl (Partida Blanco Tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, smoked sea salt, Cointreau) and the very drinkable Pisco Fix (pisco, lemon juice, pineapple syrup, egg whites). Hungry? The establishment also offers travelers a menu of gourmet food.
Le Grand Comptoir, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, TX:
Passengers running through George Bush Intercontinental’s hectic Terminal C often do a double take when they spot the classic Parisian bistro Le Grand Comptoir. Grab a stool at its elegant bar and enjoy a Kir Royale or a Bloody Mary. The bustling hangout also has an extensive wine list featuring many conveniently sized half-bottles.
Encounter, LAX, Los Angeles, CA:
The trippy Encounter bar is located in the middle of LAX. Yes, the crater-shaped joint bedecked with lava lamps is gimmicky, but the drinks are good and the 360-degree-view of the airport is impressive. After a few sips of a Jet Set (Bombay Sapphire Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth) you’ll feel like you’re already on your way.
Looking for more great watering holes? Check out our bar guide for the best bars in the world.