Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of the country’s busiest airports, and the people traveling through it are even busier. Many can’t leave the airport to explore all the Queen City has to offer, taking time only to recharge their phones and belly up to a bar between flights.
Fortunately, whether you’re flying in or you’re a local heading out, you’ll find plenty of local beers, well-curated wines and creative cocktails to make your trip all the more bearable.
Here are the top 7 places to get tipsy at the airport before your next flight:
While you can find beer and cocktails here, Beaudevin — roughly translated as “beauty of wine” — is all about the vino. It’s a modern and elegant space, a respite from the hustle and bustle of the airport. Relax with more than 30 wines, which you can pair with small plates like salad and charcuterie.
What to order: With more than 30 wines available, choosing just one can be difficult. Enter the wine flight. More than an aviation pun, these flights allow you to enjoy small pours of three wines.
Uptown Bar and Lounge
Uptown Bar and Lounge has been located on Concourse A since that concourse was built. What keeps flyers coming back year after year? Manager Michael Lawrence says it’s a combination of quick service and restaurant atmosphere. The food menu includes breakfast as well as pub food (starters, flatbreads, wings and sandwiches), while the drinks menu offers cocktails, wine, and beer in bottles, cans and on tap.
What to order: The Uptown Rob Roy is made with sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters, and Rua single malt whiskey from Charlotte’s Great Wagon Road Distilling Co.
Phillips Famous Seafood
This Maryland-based seafood chain boasts fried fish, shrimp and crab cakes, along with bottles of wine and beer and a dozen drafts. It even has its own house amber ale, produced by Heavy Seas Beer out of Baltimore.
What to order: Is there a more fitting airport cocktail than a Bloody Mary? While you can find them throughout the airport, folks rave about the Phillips Famous Signature Bloody Mary. Prepared with Absolut Peppar vodka and rimmed with Phillips seafood seasoning, the cocktail once earned the title of Best Bloody Mary in the City Paper’s Best of Baltimore.
Captain Jack’s Tavern
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery has had its beers in bars in the airport for six years, but this past June the brewery upped its presence in a big way with Captain Jack’s Tavern. The bar, like the brewery’s pilsner, is named after Captain James Jack, who delivered the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence to Philadelphia in May 20, 1775.
You’ll find four year-round beers (Copper, Captain Jack Pilsner, Hornet’s Nest Hefeweizen and Fat Boy Baltic Porter) as well as a seasonal. Sandwiches and salads are also available.
What to drink: Despite the tavern’s name and the brewery’s delicious Captain Jack Pilsner, I’d reach instead for a pint of Mecktoberfest, the brewery’s popular fall seasonal. No matter where you’re flying, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Marzen as satisfying. And that might even include Germany, where Mecktoberfest won a gold medal at the European Beer Star competition in 2015.
NoDa Brewing Tap Room
Concourse A North
Before opening NoDa Brewing Co. with his wife, Suzie, Todd Ford was a pilot. The Fords will have a homecoming of sorts when they open a taproom at Charlotte Douglas International Airport this Tuesday, Oct. 30. The new taproom will boast 11 taps pouring the brewery’s year-round beers as well as seasonals, with most available in four-packs. The new taproom, which seats about 48, will also serve up “elevated casual” food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What to order: NoDa Brewing Co. recently debuted Layover Lager, a crisp and clean beer brewed with flaked rice and German malts. It’s an obvious choice if you want something on the lighter side, but with more flavor than the other light lagers you might find throughout the airport.
Farm-to-table food isn’t a phrase often heard in airports, but you’ll find it at 1897 Market. Grab a pre-made sandwich from the deli, or settle in with something from the kitchen (and watch it all being prepared right behind the glass). There are craft cans in the cooler, but top-shelf spirits and small-batch bourbons are the focus here.
What to order: The Old Fashioned is made with Knob Creek Rye, Angostura bitters, simple syrup, brandied cherries and an orange slice — a classy cocktail for a classy bar.
A Taste of Carolina
Before Charlotte’s breweries ever thought about airport taprooms, A Taste of Carolina was introducing flyers to a rotating selection of beers from North Carolina. Grab a 20-ounce glass or order a flight of four five-ounce samples. If you’re hungry, you can order a pizza from the California Pizza Kitchen.
What to order: Prepare for your flight out of CLT with Catawba Brewing Co.’s CLT IPA. The West Coast IPA was first brewed to celebrate the brewery’s move to the Queen City, and last year it won a gold medal at the World Beer Awards.