L.A. Landmark makes
make it past security

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Three and a half out of Four

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…it has a great pedigree. Cole’s is one of Bar Flyer’s favorite landside bars in Los Angeles.

…they stock decent spirits, simple syrup, fresh citrus juices, and Fever Tree Ginger Beer!

…HMS Host employees but Cole’s trained them well.

…Ramiro (from the morning shift) peels the best lemon twist I’ve ever seen. Not a bit of pith!

…Cute design that recreates the ambience of the historic downtown original. If you’re an original Cole’s regular, look for the homages: stained glass pane, signs, etc.

…it’s open at 5:30am for the eye-opener you need before your 6am flight.

…it’s right next door to Kogi BBQ! …

Great Smiles and Service Almost
Make Up for Disappointing Drinks — Stick to the Wine…

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Two and Half out of Four


…better than average selection of wines.

…but the cocktails are, how do I say this, really bad.

…serves me right for ordering cocktails at a wine bar. You’ll definitely want to stick to wine here.

…champagne flutes are sanitized in something that kills the bubbles — ironic for a place called Bubbles. This has happened all three times I’ve been here.

…bartenders are incredibly nice and want to make you happy.

…they do have a full bar of spirits and will try to make you what you want.

…small plates are prepackaged and presented unappetizingly in their plastic trays. …

A real bar with real cocktails and a host of other nice touches raises the bar for airplane clubs…

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Three and a Half out of Four


…Real cocktails designed by Jim Meehan who’s a pretty famous mixologist (from PDT in NYC for you true cocktail mavens.)

…Everything is free! (Don’t forget to tip!)

…Great selection of geeky spirits and mixers: Frenet Branca, Falernum, Carpano Antica, Bittermens Shrub.

…hand crushed ice for some of the drinks!

…Buffet is pretty good (designed by Chef Dean Fearing.)

…Free facials, massages and mani/pedi in spa (book in advance)

…Adorable vintage design elements hearkening to the glory days of American Express travel

…bar seats are pretty uncomfortable. Tables are incrementally better

…the cocktails are a bit on the sweet side. I’m thinking they mixed for what they think the palate of most Americans demands (Disney does the same thing.) A good cocktail is about balance tho’ and I wish they had a bit…

Finally a decent option for
cocktails in Terminal 3 (and
not just vodka!)

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Three (and a wing tip) out of Four

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…the drinks were good! Well balanced and made with reasonably good spirits.

…fresh juices and garnishes.

…the menu has some nice boozy options, not just fruit juice with Sky Vodka thrown in…

…the bartender, Josesseu, is wonderful! His mixology skill is largely responsible for the high rating.

…But he rotates among all the HMS bars at ORD so you never know if he’ll be there.

…appetizers included tasty deviled eggs and potato chips! (That’s what the wing tip in the rating is for!)

…food was clearly made ahead of time and had been standing around for a while

…If you like vodka, this is your place (see…

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To paraphrase Napoleon: Booze. In victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it.

Travel is war these days. As seats become smaller, planes become more crowded, TSA becomes more baroque and mercurial, the only way to remain sane is to partake in one of the few cherished traditions that remain from the golden age of travel — the pre-flight cocktail.

Craft cocktails, artisan cocktails, good cocktails, whatever you call the current movement, has been one of the most positive developments of humanity in the new millennium, It’s time we take advantage of it in the one place where we really need it — airports. …

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DIY cocktails and the unexpected make this an amusing MacGyver-like mixology challenge

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Two and a half out of Four

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…Yes, that’s Carpano Antica you see there.

…And yes, that’s Cherry Heering!

…But there’s also Rose’s :-(.

…The spirits are always different — you never know what’ll be there.

…But its fun MacGyvering your own cocktail!

…It’s never crowded.

…The food is uneven.

…It’s free! (with your 1st class international ticket.)

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Paul of Paul’s New Bar Cart accepting the challenge!

What Did I Drink (and Mix, remember this is a DIY bar)?

1st round: Classic French 75 with Bombay Sapphire Gin, lemon juice, sugar and sparkling wine (Gloria Ferrer Brut.)

2nd round: Sidecar with brandy, Cointreau, lemon juice, ango and a sugared rim.

3rd round: Singapore Sling - A pleasant shock was realizing that most of the ingredients for this relatively complex drink (made from our favorite recipe) were there! We had to use bottled orange juice but were able to squeeze fresh juice from the sliced lemons provided for a garnish. …

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The most acclaimed airport bar in the world lives up to its reputation

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Four out of Four


…Tiffanie Barriere, master mixologist, crushes her own ice with a wooden mallet and Lewis bag…

…She also has a real swizzle stick (from the Quararibea turbinata)…

…She paired my Pimento Cheese & Pickled Cauliflower appetizer perfectly…

…She smacks her rosemary and mint…

…She’s not afraid of bitters…

…She and her trusty sidekick, Norm, handle a full bar of rushed travelers with true southern hospitality…

…The bar stools have backs (but no purse hooks — boo!)…

…The food, if my single dish was any indication, is amazing…

…Stellar selection of spirits — run independent of HMS Host!

What Did I Drink?

1st round: Bartenders Choice to be drunk with the most challenging appetizer I could find, Pimento Cheese and Pickled Cauliflower — Tiffanie’s unflappable response: Bulleit Rye, vermouth, ango, Spanish cherry, apricot. …


Bar Flyer

Airport Bar Reviews for the Drinking Traveler

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