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Transporting homemade cocktails on a plane

I'm flying across the country (USA domestic) to visit my parents next week, and I'd like to take a bottled cocktail to share with them since their liquor cabinet contains a 20 year old bottle of Mount Gay and that's it (they're wine people). It would go in a checked bag, obviously, and I would probably put it in an old screwtop liquor bottle, rather than in the smaller-size swingtops I generally use- I don't think I could trust those with a pressure change. Has anyone done this? I'm worried that 1) the bottle will break/become unscrewed and spill liquor all over my suitcase- wrap in plastic? and 2) the TSA will search my bag and take it away since the bottle has clearly been opened and refilled. Tips/reassurances/suggestions?


PS- I'm planning to bring a martinez, in case anyone is wondering. Ideally I'd like to bring two different cocktails in small swingtop bottles, but I don't think the seal would survive the pressure change..

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  1. This is NOT being snarky -- but I genuinely believe it would be easier to just buy the ingredients and make the cocktail once you get there.

    I'd use plumber's tape to seal the bottle, wrap it in plastic, then cushion it like crazy...but it just sounds like way too much trouble.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      Good point. I might go through multiple steps to get liquor to my seat to help put up with being treated like a feedlot cow. Not so much just to have it available on arrival.

      1. re: sunshine842

        The thing is I don't really even have the budget to stock my liquor cabinet at home- I can't stock my parents's as well! Especially with ingredients like maraschino that cost a bunch and never really get used up- although I suppose that would be easier to transport in a really small bottle which would be less likely to break- I could probably handle purchasing gin and vermouth out there. California liquor prices are so great though that it hurts to see prices in the rest of the country:)

      2. I have transported liquor and wine in my checked luggage before with no problems. I usually put the bottle into the leg of a pair of sweat pants or yoga pants, then roll the bottle up in the pant legs. I place the bottle in the middle of a lot of clothes. The bottles didn't budge even a bit the last time I flew.

        You can buy special wraps to put your bottles in, for safe travel, too. They are about $20, and will absorb the entire contents of a bottle should the bottle break.

        1. Use a screw-top liquor bottle and fill to the very, very brim, eliminating the air that would expand in response to reduced atmospheric pressure. I do the same for toiletries (squeeze out the air or fill to brim). Prevents ugly leaks. Wrap in plastic for insurance and pack appropriately.

          But I'd just buy the ingredients there.


          3 Replies
          1. re: EvergreenDan

            If you were going somewhere that there was some esoteric ingredient that you knew wasn't available...maybe...but I'd still lean toward just taking the missing ingredient and buying the rest when you get there.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Yeah I might end up just doing this with the maraschino. I wish I could just pop the little bottle into my carryon but I don't want to get in trouble.. maybe refill a couple of nips/minis and just hope they don't question me? They are definitely under 3oz although I'm not sure if that is actually marked on the bottle.

              1. re: tinnywatty

                Just put them in your checked luggage - -if it's a smaller bottle, then it's less likely to break, anyway.

          2. Not up on TSA regs for open bottles of liquor but Wine Sleeves are custom bubble wrapped sleeves that have strong seals so if there was a breakage the contents would most likely be retained in the bag.

            1. I don't see why you can't do this. Just fill any bottles that you use to the brim and pad well. If you are really concerned, use sturdy plastic bottles, or even metal flasks.

              From my reading of the TSA restrictions, bringing alcohol in your checked baggage is fine. From the TSA site on restricted items: "You may take up to five liters of alcohol with an alcohol content that is between 24% and 70% per person as checked luggage if it’s packaged in a sealable bottle or flask." if it is under 24% alcohol there is no limit on the amount.

              I have taken wine in my checked bags before no problem.

              Also, it appears to be okay to take containers of alcohol smaller than 3 oz on board as long as you don't drink them on board. These days most TSA reps hardly look as long as everything is in the required plastic bag.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nickls

                I have a mini of Highland Park 18 that I'm planning to drink and refill with maraschino:)

              2. I'd just put the bottle in one of these, seal it and then put it in your checked luggage:


                Note that they sell them in various wine shops/liquor stores in LA and there is a store locator on the website. I've bought a 2 pack for $6 from K&L when I was transporting wine.

                1. Just be aware that TSA WILL steal your alcohol. It's happened to me.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Meann

                    Happens to me too. I have bottles in my checked baggage all the time because of work. I had my bags opened every flight for around 6 years, and had a bottle snagged about half the time. It hasn't happened for 2-3 years now.

                    1. re: JMF

                      Need to print up "Feline urine specimen, Puma concolor" labels for those bottles. ;)

                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        Or use actual feline urine and keep the Galliano label.

                  2. I've put opened bottles in my checked luggage with no problems. Last year, I took a train from MSP to Seattle/Tacoma (so no checked luggage) with a small bottle of gin for train cocktails. (Mmmmm!) Due to unscheduled floods in Montana and the Dakotas, I had to fly home. My pint of gin was still half full, and I didn't want to leave it behind. So I double-bagged it in ziploc bags (I always travel with extras), then wrapped it in a pair of jeans. It was perfectly fine when I got home. There was nary a leak, so the ziploc bags probably weren't necessary, but I'm a cautious person.

                    If I were you, I'd decant a reasonable amount of Luxardo into an airplane-sized bottle, or a spare club soda bottle with a plastic screwtop (if you're worried about TSA agents casting aspersions on your liqueur selection). Be sure to double-plastic-bag it, just in case. If you leave a bit of air in the plastic bags, you won't need to wrap it in your clothes. Those fancy special-purpose bottle bags really aren't necessary - save your $$ for booze.

                    Have a great trip! And please let us know what your parents think about a Martinez instead of their usual wine.