Review: The Carry-On Cocktail Kit

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Recently I had the chance to use The Private Suite LAX (which I’ll be writing a full review of soon), and each suite basically has what looks like a CVS in it, with all kinds of food, drinks, toiletries, etc. This is so that you can get whatever you’d like with minimal human interaction, and you’re free to take anything.

While looking through the selection I saw something called “The Carry-On Cocktail Kit.” This is a kit that’s supposed to help you elevate your inflight cocktails. I remember seeing this at some point online, but never really put much thought into it. So I grabbed it, and figured I’d give it a try on a flight and share my thoughts.

Let me start by saying that I think this is such a cute concept, and my first thought was what a great gift this makes for any frequent flyer.

The company that produces the kits makes them for seven different cocktails (though two are sold out at the moment), with the ingredients varying. The kit doesn’t include alcohol (since you’re not allowed to serve your own alcohol onboard a flight), but rather includes everything else that’s supposed to take your inflight cocktail to the next level. Each kit is supposed to be enough for two cocktails.

I got the gin & tonic “kit,” though the other options include the old fashioned, the moscow mule, the champagne cocktail, the bloody mary, the hot toddy, and the margarita.

The presentation of these kits is adorable, as they come in little metal tins. When you open them there’s a small card with directions for making your drinks, and then a pouch that has the contents.

For the gin & tonic kit, there’s tonic syrup, a half ounce jigger, a bar spoon, and a linen coaster.

For the purpose of making the gin & tonic you’ll need a mini of gin, a can of club soda (rather than tonic, since you’re using the tonic syrup instead), and a fresh lime or lemon.

Again, the presentation is super cute, and you can’t help but say “awww” when you open the kit and lay it all out.

So I had the flight attendant bring me a glass of club soda with ice, and then asked for a mini (though she just poured the mini into a glass), and then I mixed them.

I then poured the half ounce of tonic syrup into the glass.

Voilà!

So, did it taste different than a regular gin & tonic? It definitely had more of a lemongrass and orange peel flavor than usual (which personally isn’t my preference with gin & tonics), though it wasn’t overpowering. For what it’s worth, the half ounce of syrup has 25 calories.

I guess to really share my thoughts we should look at the price. One kit costs $24. You can buy all five cocktail kits for $100, or multiple of the same ones for $20 each. The kits are also available through Amazon, should you prefer to purchase them there in order to maximize your points.

Okay, that’s just crazy. In the case of the gin & tonic, you’re essentially paying $24 for an ounce of flavored tonic. While the bar spoon, the half ounce jigger, and the linen coaster are cute, they’re not actually useful. An airline provided straw does the job mixing things as well, and I can eyeball what half of the one ounce bottle looks like, and don’t need a jigger for that.

So the pricing is ridiculous to me. Maybe the degree to which the drink is improved differs for the other drinks. For example, the bloody mary kit comes with rimming salt and mini-pickles. However, personally paying $24 an ounce of tonic syrup that doesn’t (in my opinion) improve the flavor of a drink is a bit much.

However, there’s a part of me that still thinks this makes a really cute gift for any frequent flyer. Often gift giving is about buying things you wouldn’t buy for yourself, and this is definitely one of those things. I just wish the price point were more reasonable.

Have you ever used a Carry-On Cocktail Kit? What was your experience like?

Comments

  1. Probably worth mentioning that BYOB is illegal in the US (14 CFR 121.575), and there are similar rules in many other countries as well….

  2. @Brendan if you read the label in the photos above it clearly states: “Alcohol is not included”. These kits contain mixers for drinks but no alcohol. LOL at the statute you cite.

  3. @Brendan: alcohol is not supplied in the kit. You still need to get the gin from the crew which makes this way overpriced!!!

  4. Yes, I got one of the Moscow Mule ones for a laugh at a Sur La Table earlier in the year and used it on an AA transcon flight a few weeks later. I figured since it included the ginger syrup I was able to replicate something an FA couldn’t whip up in 2 seconds.

    Your summary is pretty on point. Way overpriced but now I’ve got a semi useful tin keepsake thing….

    IMO, if it were $10 it’d make a fun stocking filler type thing

  5. I have to agree with everything you say here Ben — it’s a cute idea, but the price is prohibitive. I had thought of getting these as part of wedding gift bags when I got married but the price was way too high.

    That said, the gin & tonic does seem like the least value add of any of them. The ingredients of the old fashioned kit, for example, probably don’t cost much more than those of the G&T kit, but at least the back end of the metal spoon is supposed to be used to crush the sugar (included in the kit) as part of making the cocktail, which I guess adds a tiny bit of incremental value over just getting a straw from the FA.

  6. Someone gave me the old fashion kit a couple of years ago and I got a kick out of it. More useful as more ingredients were included. Makes a great gift.

  7. Ridiculously overpriced, but I like the concept. So easy to bring your own stuff though. The travel-size bitters included in the Old Fashioned kit almost made me buy one a couple years back, but then I came across Seattle based Scrappy’s Bitters in a .5 oz size at a PDX kiosk for about $8. Now it’s a fixture in my carry on, and let’s me make a proper Manhattan in the Sky Club too, where they have vermouth — but never bitters.

  8. They’re basically stocking stuffers for frequent fliers — not intended to be an everyday sort of thing. Got one for my birthday a couple of years back as a nice addition to a weekend trip to New Orleans. The old-fashioned kit made a nice cocktail. Made the Jack Daniel’s more palatble. And, for what it’s worth, B6 does let you BYOB as long as it’s just beer or wine — the FAs will be happy to open it and pour it for you. Don’t know if they’ll chill a bottle of bubbly you get in duty-free before an international flight, but I haven’t asked yet.

  9. My wife and I have always talked about making our own kit (flavored simple syrup, bitters, sliced lemons/limes, etc.), but also bringing a cocktail shaker on board. Not sure how that would go over with the flight crew, but I think that some passengers might appreciate if somebody could make a proper shaken cocktail in the air.

  10. Aww.. … here I was, for a moment, thinking this might be a cute work-around for use on those tiresome dry airlines! But alas, no. What a pity.

  11. I received one of these as a gift a few years ago, and thought it was super cute too. Then I found out how much they cost, and I still haven’t brought myself to use it yet. Absolutely ridiculous.

  12. Syrup is the sticky flavouring put into what is essentially and simply just soda water or soda-wasser (or what the Yanks bizarrely call ‘club soda’) then mixed together to create your soft drink of choice – tonic, Pepsi et al.

  13. I have the same gin and tonic kit, and after using the syrup I refilled the little bottle with my own tonic syrup (with a tiny funnel) that I use at home. That way I can continue using my cute kit but with the tonic syrup that I prefer!

  14. As Craig mentioned, I just fly with the small scrappys bitters, a refillable 1oz bottle of vermouth, and sugar cubes to make old fashions or Manhattans on the plane.

  15. a $24 carry on drink kit in a personal lounge that costs 1000s.

    This doesnt sound like anything middle class america would encounter.
    How do you get this private lounge ? by getting the right $450 fee credit card?

    It sounds outrageously ostentatious.

  16. @ray did you read Lucky’s review of the lounge? It was comped, and he was pretty clear about the price and how he got to experience it.

    As for the kits, I’ve seen them before and glad to read a review confirming my theory that they are a cool idea but horrifically overpriced.

  17. How utterly ridiculous. What next, a selection of 5 different canned airs to breathe on the plane, for only $100? Maui, Bali, Kilimanjaro, Eyjafjallajokull and, I dunno, Mumbai.

  18. I bought the Blood Mary kit for my mother-in-law’s Christmas Stocking last year – it came from Amazon and the Bloody Mary mix had leaked in transit all over the cotton bag. The Mini pickles were microscopic (but wrapped in their own plastic bag). The whole kit was sticky and smelled like tomatoes and pepper (from the mix leak). The seller refunded my money and did send a new kit that arrived after Christmas. The price was about $24.00 — I think it is a novelty that should be around $10.00.

  19. I picked up some of these at a TJMaxx earlier this year on the clearance section in mens departments – Looks the same and the contents are identical but is called The Traveler’s Cocktail Kit. Paid $1 each!

  20. They’re horribly overpriced, but it’s a great idea to steal for some DIY holiday gifts. Most of my friends will never get status, nor fly in anything other than economy, so I’m re-gifting amenity kits and augmenting them with mini-bottles of whiskey and some homemade orange bitters syrup so they can make old-fashioneds.

  21. It seems like a lot of the “over priced” commenters and past users are ignoring the fact that these kits are designed to make “two drinks per kit” (per the description on amazon).

    Still a decent price for an inflight drink but ~$10 for someone who can get the Booz in business or with status isn’t bad for a cocktail…

    @Lucky – might be worth pointing out in the review

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