Duty Free has its place. When you have local currency to burn, for example. But you deserve better than the overpriced blended Scotch and gleaming bottles of coconut rum that line many airports’ oddly abbreviated Dufry shelves. That’s why we’re giving you the heads up on the world’s best airport wine and spirits shops. Whether you’re jonesing for a post-flight tipple in the City of Sin, or looking to complete your Chateau Margaux collection during a Middle Eastern layover, we’ve got your back (and your bottle).
Portland International Airport: House Spirits Distillery
Last summer, Portland’s House Spirits Distillery, best known as producer of cult favorite Aviation Gin, opened a branch in PDX’s Concourse D. The airport’s first liquor retailer sells made-in-Portland spirits a few doors down from Laurelwood Public House and Brewery, another local favorite with Southeast (and Northeast) street cred.
Dubai International Airport: Le Clos
Rub shoulders with Chinese collectors, Emirates-based bankers and a world of wine enthusiasts at Le Clos’ year-old flagship in DXB’s A380 concourse. The luxury wine and spirits shop stocks the world’s oldest Chateau Petrus (pop that Instagram!), a vertical collection of Chateau Margaux and limited edition, Lalique-bottled 57- and 60-year-old Macallan. Best of all, helpful staffers are happy to suggest judgment-free tastings at any hour.
McCarren International Airport: Liquor Library
For those looking to booze on arrival in Las Vegas (i.e. every single ticketholder ever), the Liquor Library provides the ultimate welcome. The smartly stocked, 1,400-square-foot liquor closet is just next to the baggage claim at Terminal 1, making it the country’s only airport spirits store located outside of security clearance. Obviously you have to stock the hotel room. The store also hosts daily tastings from labels like Moet & Chandon and Patron.
San Francisco International Airport: Napa Farms Market
Including SFO in a list of food-friendly airports is akin to Beyoncé sweeping the VMA nominations: it’s neither undeserved nor particularly surprising. But, like “Drunk in Love,” Terminal 2’s Napa Farms Market cannot be denied. Pick up Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, Equator coffee and bottles from northern California vintners like Schug Winery and Silver Oak Cellars, or pause for an $8-15 flight at the adjoining wine bar.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport: Surdyk’s Flights
Northeast Minneapolis’ Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese, an institution since 1937, runs this bar and shop with an impressive list of European and South American wines in Terminals 1 and 2. Fortify yourself pre-flight with locally made sandwiches and snacks – Andrew Zimmern is a fan of the grub – before picking up a to-go tipple from the Buy & Fly list of over 100 bottles.
Singapore Changi Airport: The Entire Airport
SIN is in the midst of an $85 million overhaul to four terminals’ worth of wine and spirits. Highlights to include 85,000+ square feet of retail space, Asia’s largest single-malt Scotch collection and the first-ever airport outpost of Raffles’ iconic Long Bar, serving Singapore Slings and more with a smile. Renovations will start rolling out by end of 2014, and should be complete by 2016.
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