Doug Draper has what many would think was a great job: the drinks expert overseeing adult beverage operations and menus for HMSHost, an airport concessions food/beverage company based outside of Washington, D.C. He works with the company’s culinary team to stay ahead of drinking and dining trends.
As passengers spend more time in airports, they pass it in different ways. One of the biggest ways is on food and beverage, according to Airports Council International-North America's 2015 Concessions Benchmarking Survey.
The median amount per enplanement spent at airports was $6.30 compared with $5.38 the previous year, said the survey. Broken down, alcohol made up 10.8 percent of sales in the good and beverage category.
Draper and his team of four mixologists are constantly working on ideas to bring to bars and restaurants in the roughly 80 North American airports served by HMSHost. The team comes up with about 100 new drinks per year.
They balance offering travelers the classic cocktails they know and love with creating new drinks under the craft cocktail banner. Below are Draper’s top 10 list of cocktails being served in the HMSHost family of bars right now. Cheers!
Angels & Demons
This provocative beverage is made with Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Combier, Aperol, Hellfire Shrub and orange peel. It has a classic nod, but with a modern interpretation, given the use of on trend vinegar-based flavoring ingredients. Available at Book & Bourbon in the main terminal at Kentucky's Louisville International Airport.
This drink is made with 7-year-old Campari, pineapple, lime, and mint. It pairs perfectly with sushi or just as a pre-flight drink. Find it at Umaizushi in the center point of Concourse C at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Terminal C near Gate C45.
This all-time favorite refresher stays true to its roots while also being a contemporary option since at HMSHost bars it’s made by including the Paloma Tequila as the chief ingredient, highlighting the fresh citrus flavors. It is prepared classically with fresh lime juice, rocks and a salted rim. Find it at most HMSHost bars across the continent.
HMSHost makes this classic tropical cocktail with Flor de Caňa 7-year Rum, Myers’s Dark Rum, fresh lime juice, orgeat syrup and Cointreau. Enjoy this drink at 1897 Market, located at the Atrium, near Concourse A/B at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Preparation for this cocktail starts days in advance with jalapeno-infused Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which is then combined with passionfruit puree, cane sugar and fresh cilantro. Fresh lemon rinds finish it off just before being served. It can be found on the Bebidas los Clasicos menu at Lorena Garcia Tapas y Cocina in Terminal A at Gate A33 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
This is HMSHost’s take on the familiar Moscow Mule. It features Tito’s Handmade Vodka, ginger beer, lime juice and ice. Indulge at Mockingbird Distillery & Café in Terminal A near Gate A12 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and most HMSHost bars in North America.
Ytsukukushi Budo is Japanese for beautiful grapes. This cocktail is made with Junmai Sake, Cocchi Apertivo Americano, Conundrum red wine, grapefruit bitters, and Llamar Sugar. It all comes together for an intriguing wine-based cocktail that will be hard to forget, said Draper. The drink is served at ICE Dishes and Drinks at Gate 47 at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
HMSHost’s version of this indispensable mainstay to cocktail culture calls for rye whiskey rather than the more typical bourbon. This slight deviation imparts a less sweet depth of flavor – welcome to travelers looking for something straightforward, strong, and agreeable before taking to the sky, said Draper. Find it at most HMSHost bars across North America.
HMSHost knows that travelers drink a lot of these cocktails during their trips. Draper’s team worked with American Beverage Marketers to create Elements, a proprietary Bloody Mary mix. Find it at most HMSHost bars across North America.
Beer cocktails have taken off, said Draper. This one is made with lime juice, tomato, pepper spice, and Golden Road’s 329 Lager, although it can be made with any beer on draught. But for a unique presentation of multiple flavors, Draper recommends trying it with Golden Road Brewing’s Get Up Offa That Brown ale. This cocktail is served at Point The Way Café, Los Angeles International Airport.