You might find it hard to believe now in this age of the Knee Defender, but during the ’50s and ’60s flying was actually a luxurious experience that only the well-heeled could afford. (An airline ticket then would have been 40 percent more than what you would pay today.) West Hollywood cocktail lounge Now Boarding, which opened last month, aims to transport drinkers back to that Golden Age of Flying. Sure, it’s a theme bar, but it’s one done well, from thoughtful details like packaged peanuts and a passport-style cocktail menu to the mid-century first-class airport lounge vibe by local designer Sayre Ziskin.
The cocktail menu, created by Roger Room alum Wil Figueroa, doesn’t feature the classic drinks that were favored by the likes of jet-setter Howard Hughes or inspired by the heydays of Havana’s Tropicana, but rather ones the barman’s been carrying in his back pocket for five years. “I just came up with things that I liked over the years. You kind of get stuck if you do it on a destination basis, I didn’t want to limit myself that way,” Figueroa explains.
The bar also gives you three other stylish ways to enjoy imbibing that would have been Don Draper-approved.
A VIP frequent-flyer club: The Fifty50 Club provides regulars–at least those who are willing to spend $600 for a year of membership– several benefits like priority entry on weekends, quarterly members-only parties, and a private bottle locker in which to store their favorite booze. The first bottle is free while subsequent bottles are half off the list price. Keep in mind that there are only 50 bottle lockers. So far, four lockers have been bought, with members choosing Johnnie Walker Gold and Willett Rye as the bottles they’d love to have waiting for them at the bar.
Suitcase punch service: Instead of a vintage cocktail punch bowl, the bar serves large-format cocktails out of specially made mini suitcases. Order a suitcase ($75, serves 10 drinkers) and get a setup of glassware, fruit, and a trough of drink. The menu currently offers two cocktails, but guests can also have something made to order.
“First-class” booze upgrades: If you want to “upgrade” the Atlantico rum to Zaya 12 in the Continental cocktail, or the Bombay Dry to the Hendricks in the Jetsetter cocktail, it’ll cost you $2. You’ll have this premium option for the vodka, whiskey, and tequila cocktails as well.
Now Boarding is open daily from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Starting tonight, happy hour runs all night on Mondays, with $9 specialty cocktails, $6 well drinks, and $3 PBR.