airport bars

Miss the airport bar? Now you can belly up to SEA’s Shot Bar

The Shot Bar at SEA

Here’s a fun, new airport amenity that goes right on the list for Airport Amenity of the Week.

At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) – as in a lot of other airports right now – there’s limited seating in bars and restaurants due to social distancing requirements.

That means you may not feel comfortable ordering a cocktail at an airport bar and hanging around nursing that drink a while at a table or on a barstool before your next flight.

Seattle’s celebrity chef Kathy Casey thought about that travel challenge and came up with a creative solution. She’s opened a pop-up concept at SEA airport called the Shot Bar in her existing Rel’Lish Burger Lounge on Concourse B.

The bar is a quick-serve counter with ‘grab ‘n go’ shots of alcohol served in the tiny two-ounce version of the familiar red Solo cup. That makes it easy to “Just order, shoot your shot and go,” according to an announcement declaring the Shot Bar the first concept like this to open in a U.S. airport.

Shots are $7 for a single. $10 for a double.

Here’s the menu. Let us know if you think this will – or should – catch on.

Denver Int’l Airport gets an on-site brewery and its own beer

Like beer? Or just a cool place to grab something to eat when you’re stuck at the airport?

There’s now a brew-pub restaurant at Denver International Airport (DEN) with its own on-site brewery.

The new venue is called Tom’s Urban Kitchen and Tivoli Brewery and its located at the Westin Denver International Airport, just off the airport’s outdoor plaza.

The brewery portion of the restaurant is franchised by the Denver-based Tivoli Brewing Company, which has roots reaching back to 1859.  At DEN, Tivoli will brew Jet Indian pale ale as an airport exclusive.

As a nice touch, students from Metropolitan State University of Denver who are pursuing degrees or certificates in brewery and brewpub operations will be working in the airport brewery.

While this is the first restaurant with a brewery at DEN airport, Tom’s Urban Kitchen and Tivoli Brewery is a well-known  brand wih four other locations, including Portland, Los Angeles, Connecticut, and Las Vegas.

“Colorado is a paradise for craft beer lovers, and we wanted this amazing, signature space within the Westin Denver International Airport to reflect the Colorado experience with a brewpub that offers exclusive homegrown beverages and a taste of local Denver fare,” said airport CEO Kim Day.

This DEN-brewed beer and brewery will no doubt be a great addition to the “Beer Flights” beer garden the airport hosts each September out on plaza between the Westin and south entrance to the Jeppesen Terminal. That event coincides with worldwide Oktoberfest celebrations and features some of Colorado’s top micro-breweries and brew masters.

Year-round, there are plenty of other places at DEN airport to grab a craft beer, including New  Belgium Hub, the Boulder Beer House Tap House and in many restaurants and bars, including Root Down.

Have a favorite place to drink beer at Denver International Airport? Let us know.

Which airport boasts one of world’s largest tequila bars?

Today – July 24 – is National Tequila Day and if you happen to be passing through Newark Liberty International Airport today you can celebrate in United Terminal C at the bar appropriately named Tacquila – which claims to be one of the largest and most exclusive tequila bars in the world.

Operated by OTG – the folks who brought tablet-ordering to airports – Tacquila features over 150 tequila bottles, including rare and ultra-luxury brands such as Clase Azul Ultra Anejo and Casa Dragones Joven.

Several other airports, including Charlotte Douglas International (which has a Tequileria in the artrium), have tequila-themed bars, but you’ll find tequila on the shelf at most every airport bar.

So drink up – but be responsible about it.


Where to find great craft beer at airports

Did you know that Orlando International Airport once had an on-site brewery – where you could play darts?

My “At the Airport” column on USA TODAY this month is all about the history of craft beer at airports – and some good choices for where to find it.

In the past, grabbing a beer at the airport meant something generic, sudsy and over-priced. But as the craft beer industry has boomed in towns and cities around the country, it’s now possible to find locally-made brews in just about every airport.

Boston-based Samuel Adams may have started the airport brewpub trend back in 1993, when it opened a branch at Boston Logan International Airport. The company now has 12 airport brewpubs around the country, in Atlanta; Boston, Cincinnati (2); Richmond, VA; Miami, St. Petersburg, and West Palm Beach, FL; Fort Wayne, IN; Charleston, S.C.; Flint, MI; and at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

“As a brewer, I travel a lot and knowing that I can have a taste of home at most airports across the country is something I’ll never take for granted,” said Jim Koch, Found and Brewer of Samuel Adams, “It makes my travels a lot more fun.”

Today, brew pubs such as Cask & Larder offer  up a wide variety of local and regionally-made beer at Orlando International Airport, but in the late 1990s the airport was the first to have a working brewery.

In April, 1997 the Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland, Maine opened a 20-barrel, 5,000-square-foot microbrewery in the airport’s main terminal. Passengers could look thorough 6-foot glass windows, watch beer being produced, and take a self-guided tour along the perimeter of the facility to learn about the workings of the brewery.

There were also two nautically-themed Shipyard Brew Pubs in the airport, offering pub food and games, such as checkers, backgammon and darts (!), along with a half dozen fresh-brewed beers.

“Back then, finding good beer anywhere was difficult and there no security matters at the airport to worry about, so I had no reservations about making the trip from Tampa to Orlando to experience the coolness of a brewery inside of an airport,” said Gregg Rottler, creator of the Flights from Hell website.

But the brewery didn’t last that long.

“Our 5 year lease ended just after 9/11 and the [airport] administration at the time decided that they would rather move in the direction of a food court instead of a brewery due to the times we were in,” said Fred Forsley, Shipyard Brewing Company owner and CEO, “We were replaced by a Quiznos, and we are still bummed about it.”

Modern day airport brewpubs  

Today, it’s a rare airport that doesn’t have a brewpub on site or a few restaurants and bars with a good selection of local beers on tap – or in cans. And not all beers have to be consumed on site: in Memphis International, Nashville International and a handful of other airports, travelers can get a craft beer (or other adult beverage) in a to-go cup to drink it as they walk through the concourses or hang out at the gate. And at Nashville airport’s Yazoo Beer Cart and some other airport brewpubs, passengers can purchase six-packs and, in some cases, fresh-filled growlers of local craft beer to take home.

While far from complete, here are some airport brewpubs where a delay offers a great excuse to order up a pint.

At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the Flying Dog Tap House  on Concourse A not only offers a variety of what it calls a “life-changing” selection of beers, but a menu where some of the dishes incorporate signature Flying Dog beers.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the Goose Island Bar (Terminal 1, Concourse B; there are two others as well) is a horseshoe gathering spot in the middle of the concourse. Beers on tap focus on brews that reflect the local region, such as the Chicago-inspired 312 Urban Wheat Ale and the Green Line Pale Ale.

Year-round, there’s plenty of Colorado craft beer served at the New Belgium Hub (Concourse B), the Boulder Beer Tap House (Jeppesen Terminal) and many other pubs and restaurants in Denver International Airport, but from September 28 to October 9 the airport will be hosting its fourth annual “Beer Flights” beer garden from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in the outdoor plaza between the Jeppesen Terminal and Westin Denver International Airport.  10 Colorado breweries will be represented with two beers each. A $10 beer garden ticket includes a souvenir glass and ten, 2-ounce samples of beer.


In Leinenkugel’s Leinie Lodge on Concourse D at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport there are self-serve beer taps where travelers can pour their own beer from Wisconsin’s Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company.

There are more on the way, but currently more than a half dozen venues, including the Country Cat and Rouge Ales (which sells bottles and growlers to go) pour local craft beers at Portland International Airport.

Elsewhere, you’ll find Core Brewery represented at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, Caps Beer Garden in United’s Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport, the just-opened Germantown Biergarten at Philadelphia International Airport and, at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, plenty of local beers served up at Landry’s, The Local, Ember, the American Craft Tavern and Mockingbird Distillery.

In October, Southbound Brewing Company will open a pre-security taproom at Georgia’s Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.

And by the end this year, Cigar City Brewing Company will reopen in its new location at Florida’s Tampa International Airport and regain the title of the country’s only in-airport brewery, with several exclusive-to-the-airport beers alongside the Tampa-style Cuban food on the menu.

Have some favorite spots to grab a beer at the airport? Add it in the comments section below.




Oktoberfest at Frankfurt Airport

It’s Oktoberfest season and a good time to check out pubs and tap rooms in airports.

I’m making a list of some travelers’ favorites – so send in y our suggestions, please.

In the meantime, if you’ve got a layover coming up this month at Frankfurt Airport, you can grab a beer in the airport’s traditional beer tent and be entertained daily by Bavarian brass bands.  There’s evidently even a ‘high striker’ on site where guests can test their strength.

Restaurants and bistros throughout the airport are serving special Bavarian specialties, including white sausage, giant soft pretzels and one-liter mugs of fresh tap beer and there are some Oktoberfest-themed items in the shops, including this Minnie Mouse in a dirndl and Mickey Mouse in leather trousers.