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Airport Bars Worth a Layover

Outside of One Flew South in the Atlanta airport.

Charlotte Voisey is one of the cocktail world’s most seasoned travelers. She grew up in London, has lived in Spain and Argentina, and now calls New York City home. As the director of brand advocacy for William Grant & Sons—the company behind spirits brands including Hendricks Gin and Glenfiddich—half of her time is spent traveling the globe. So when she’s ready to find a good drink in airport terminals spanning from the Midwestern U.S. to Western Europe, Voisey knows where to turn. Here are some of her favorite stopovers for imbibing en route.

One Flew South at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
“One Flew South is what every airport bar should aspire to be,” says Voisey. “Once through the doors you forget you’re in terminal E—it feels like you’re enjoying the service, drinks and spirits of a world-class cocktail bar.” Since 2008, the restaurant and bar, elegantly outfitted in native Georgian pink marble and heart pine, has been serving “Southernational” cuisine and some of the best cocktails to be found in an airport concourse. The drinks menu offers classics and creative originals like the Midnight Train and the Simmering Effect, a combo of tequila, lime and grapefruit juices, serrano pepper syrup, soda water and grapefruit liqueur.

Root Down at Denver International Airport
Root Down, whose flagship location is in Denver’s Highland neighborhood, extends its ethos of local, seasonal and sustainable food to its beverage program. A handful of colorful cocktails—like the Beet Down, with gin, Aperol, beets, lemon and mint—accompany biodynamic wines and a stellar lineup of Colorado beers from makers like Odell, Great Divide and Upslope. “A great, all-around beverage program, lively décor and phone-charging sockets at every seat make this spot worthy of a cross-terminal trek when connecting in Denver,” Voisey says.

Tortas Frontera at O’Hare International Airport
The Frontera restaurants from Chicago chef Rick Bayless are known for fresh, modern Mexican cuisine, with ingredients sourced from local farms. The Tortas locations in O’Hare are no exception, and their sandwiches and salads are easily the airport’s best bet for food—along with a solid Margarita. “The cozy bar is beloved for friendly service from the bartenders, whose agave-spirit selection is wider than the bar itself,” says Voisey. If your layover doesn’t permit time to sip a Mezcal Margarita or Michelada, the housemade agua frescas are equally refreshing.

The Bird at Copenhagen Airport
With three locations in Copenhagen proper, The Bird is known as a haven for beer lovers and gin aficionados, boasting an impressive selection of each. In addition to a seasonal “GT of the Month,” the offerings range from the Puppy Passion, with passion fruit and elderflower tonic, to the Spanish Ginquisition, with olive, rosemary and fresh lemon. The beers, primarily from Danish brewer Kissmeyer, include the Stockholm Syndrome double IPA and the Young Lust Belgian Blonde. Complete the experience with one of their signature Britain-meets-Scandinavia toasty sandwiches.

Airbräu at Munich Airport
If there was ever any doubt that Germans take their beer seriously, consider Airbräu—Europe’s only airport brewery. The beer is brewed on-site under the helm of master brewer René Jacobsen, with tours and tastings available, and a full lineup of aviation-themed brews such as the Jetstream Pilsner. Even more impressive is the full, open-air beer garden located in the sprawling Munich Airport Center. “An actual alfresco beer garden inside the airport is a bit of a luxury!” says Voisey. “It’s great for getting some fresh air before the flight, not to mention the killer beer selection.”

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