[I wrote this awhile back, before the idea ever entered my mind of starting a blog about drinking in airports! I hope you enjoy it...]
Every night in the airport is a party. Airport bars are my favorite. Nervous travelers from all corners of the Earth work to suck down just one more cocktail before it’s time to board, new friends are made for a few minutes – and we try to remember the name of that great bartender we had, but it will soon be forgot. No other place on the planet is it socially acceptable to show up at 8am, and begin drinking straight bourbon – but at the airport, no questions are asked and it’s assumed that you just arrived from somewhere where it was easily 5 O’Clock.
Since I’ve been having to travel a lot for work this year – I’ve come to the conclusion that I really like drinking in airport bars. I’ve liked it so much in the past that I’ve even been know to miss a flight here or there because I’ve been too busy in the bar! From here to Houston, to Seattle, to San Jose to Vegas, to Salt Lake, to Phoenix, to Cancun, back to Denver – I could probably tell you the best place to get your drink on – with much experience under my belt. I dedicate this blog to all the airport bars I’ve drank in this year….
In Denver, I always fly Frontier, so I end up in the terminal which has the “Cowboy Bar”. I’m not too fond of this place, so I’ll occasionally wander upstairs to the “Smokers Lounge” which sucks because it’s filled with smoke and I’m not a smoker, but it’s good because it’s a much nicer bar with a view of the runways – and you can drink in a more “drunk friendly” atmosphere. If you really want to kick things up a notch, you can even order a fancy Cigar from behind the bar, and sit there and smoke it. It’s the last place in the state of Colorado where smoking is allowed indoors. I found a new bar on my way to the plane on the last trip — And I will investigate that more for you when I fly again September 3rd!
In Colorado Springs, you’ll love the small airport atmosphere – the quick security check, and the small bar that you’ll find in the terminal. They are never too crowded, you get a nice view of the runway – bathrooms are nearby, and you can get nicely sloshed before takeoff. There are no gimmicks, but it will get the job done in this otherwise unassuming little airport.
In Houston you can be easily tricked because there is a Mexican restaurant with a bar in it that is the only thing you see when you enter the terminal. My first few trips I missed the fact that there was a hidden bar as you walk down the concourse towards the end of the gates. It’s a cute little hole in the wall that not many people know about, and if you have a gate near the end – You can actually drink a couple more, since you’ll have less area to cover to make your flight! It’s very small and can become crowded during peak flight times, and it’s mostly filled up with suit wearing Houston oil-execs that are drinking straight scotch with no ice. There is also a really nice little sports bar BEFORE you go through security, so if you have some time before your flight – try this one out. It’s upstairs, so you can stare down on the masses and people watch while sipping an array of drinks and watching the game. Not a lot of people know it’s there, so you get a nice secluded feel.
You’d think that Las Vegas would be a virtual treasure trove of bars and fun, but it’s actually not. Sure there are slot machines (Which get old after your first trip), and you are allowed to get “to go” drinks and walk around the terminal with them in a plastic cup which is kind of fun… But the actual bar is just an Fox Sports bar, which is great if there is a game on you want to watch – because they can show any sport you ask for, but that is about it. The atmosphere is not that inviting, and there might be one other bar in the terminal, but it’s not that great either.
San Jose is a tiny airport, which is shoe horned into the center of the Silicon Valley. If land wasn’t so expensive there they would have expanded this airport years ago, but for now it’s maintained it’s small town feel in the center of the sprawling metropolis that generates most of the money in the State of California, outside of Hollywood. Here you will find 1 cute little bar called the “Martini Monkey”, which is dark and serves strong drinks – and has free “Wi-Fi” access for you computer geeks. They also serve a couple of sandwiches if you are hungry, but I don’t go there for the food. The atmosphere is swanky and fun, and I rank it highly.
Salt Lake City is the home of the micro-bar, which means that you will find about 20 people crowded into a room the size of your walk-in closet, sucking down $8 drinks and bitching about the condition of the place. It’s not pretty, it’s not spacious – but if you need a drink and you need one now, you can get one in this normally dry part of the country.
Cancun, Mexico: In Cancun you’ll find Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, along with Bubba Gump, along with a few other chain bars & shops. I’d love to say it’s a special fiesta type atmosphere, but it’s really too Americanized for me, and doesn’t offer you much more than the feeling of getting drunk in a TGIFridays. Watch the dense jungle all around you as you take off, and you’ll have a new appreciation for clear cutting the rain forest.
Out of all the airports I have drank in this year – I have to say that I am leaning towards Seattle as my favorite. This is surprising to me, because Seattle is not my kind of town at all, but their airport is sure my kind of place. You’ll find a huge mall in the terminal with shops, and about 10 different restaurants and bars to choose from. This last trip I tried them all – From the Seattle Microbrewery with the surly bartender to the Vino Collo swanky wine bar, where you can drink wine from across the Klamath Valley (Local) along with wines from around the world. To my shagrin, the prices were not outrageous – and I was able to sit in this place for about 2 hours and drink numerous vinos for a total bill than came to less than $50. If you get bored here you can go and shop for Wild Smoked Salmon to bring home in the nearby shops, and you can get free Wi-Fi access just about anywhere. It’s very technology friendly, and they cater to both the high end, and the low end drunk. The view of the huge mountains when you climb out above the clouds is also pretty amazing.