Flying in the economy cabin is never much fun. So when the flight attendants stop by with the service cart, many of us are tempted to order an adult beverage. Beer, wine, cocktails, sodas, juices, coffee, tea — most airlines have numerous options on their menus. But did you know that frequent fliers and flight attendants alike agree that there’s one beverage that you should always order on a plane?
Read on to discover which beverage trumps the rest.
The best drink to order isn’t a bloody mary, or even plain tomato juice
Travel + Leisure reports that many people go for a bloody mary or just plain tomato juice at 35,000 feet. (However, some researchers argue that those drinks are only popular on planes because of the way the atmospheric pressure and the oxygen levels changes your sensitivity to certain flavors.) Yet neither of those drinks, though popular, is actually the best beverage to order on a plane.
You should actually ask for water when the beverage cart arrives
Surprised? Travel + Leisure reports that water is the best drink to order on a plane. (But if you were looking for cocktail recommendations, don’t worry! There are a few on the upcoming pages!) Travel + Leisure explains, “As tempting as a free soda or in-flight cocktail may be, water is unsurprisingly the best option for battling dehydration, dry skin, and headaches from the cabin pressure and circulating air.
Just make sure that you get bottled water
If you opt to follow insiders’ recommendations and ask the flight attendants for water, keep this advice in mind. You’ll want to make sure that you drink bottled water, not the tap water from the plane. Airlines clean the water tanks on their planes only sporadically.
Plus, a recent study from the Environmental Protection Agency reported that one out of every eight planes in the United States doesn’t meet the agency’s standards for water tank cleanliness. No wonder flight attendants rarely drink the tap water!
Or, order this mocktail for some hydration and vitamin C
Is bottled water just too boring? Then Southern Living recommends ordering a hydrating mocktail of seltzer water and cranberry juice. Dehydration can be a real problem on planes. It makes you more prone to air sickness. Dehydration also increases your chances of experiencing jet lag. Plus, it leaves you prone to altitude headaches. And it even makes you more likely to get sick in the days after your flight.
The combination of seltzer water and cranberry juice is hydrating and gives you some vitamin C, but still tastes delicious. Still not satisfied with the idea of a mocktail? Read on for our pick of the best hydrating cocktails you can likely order (or mix yourself) on your next flight.
Choose a hydrating cocktail — or at least one that won’t dehydrate you too badly
Let’s get this disclaimer out of the way. When it comes to alcoholic beverages, no combination that you pick will be truly hydrating. But some will be less dehydrating than others. As Food & Wine explains, it basically works out so that the lower the alcohol content of your beverage, the less dehydrating it proves. A beer is the least dehydrating, so long as you drink it slowly.
But a mixed drink will be more hydrating — or, more accurately, less dehydrating — than a shot of liquor because you’ll drink it more slowly, and because it contains some water. As Food & Wine notes, the fewer boozy beverages you consume, the more hydrated you’ll be. Adding ice to your mixed drink won’t hurt, either.
Mix up one of these cocktails on your next flight
There are a couple of different approaches to making a cocktail on a flight. Either you use whatever ingredients the airline offers, or you do some scavenging at home or the airport so you board prepared. You can successfully mix up a hydrating cocktail — or a minimally dehydrating one — either way. Tasting Table recommends adding tequila or mescal to a cold-pressed juice (which you can find at many airports).
Brit + Co advises mixing up a cocktail that contains coconut water for an extra dose of hydration. Supercall concurs, but also proposes using low-alcohol spirits like dry vermouth and Bénédictine. And Hipmunk’s list of recommended cocktails to mix on a plane includes the Shandygaff, which uses beer instead of liquor for a lower dose of alcohol.
Always alternate alcohol and water
If you do opt to order an adult beverage on your next flight — wine, beer, or liquor — Food & Wine has one final tip for you. Always alternate alcohol and water. As Food & Wine explains, “There’s no substitute for just plain old water (and a little self-control).” Drinking a glass of water between drinks will give you some extra fluids to replace the ones you lose. That’s important when you drink on the ground, but even more so when you’re imbibing at 35,000 feet.
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