How to Stay Sane During the Holidays

Blame it on the weather, but the holidays can be stressful (like when you plan a dinner for 10 and it turns into 16…or your flight gets delayed AGAIN…or you have to make 60 cookies for the holiday class party). But remember: every day (even the trying ones) is an adventure! Here are 7 tips for how to stay sane during the holidays—and beyond. 

Checkbox HYDRATE 

Staying hydrated will do wonders for your mind and body. Keep a reusable bottle on hand and never forget the party rule: for every libation, chug a glass of water. 

Checkbox PEOPLE WATCH 

Stuck at the airport or standing in the longest check-out line of your life? Avoid the temptation to look at your phone and watch your fellow human beings. It’ll restore your faith in humanity…or at least be entertaining. 

Checkbox  BREATHE

You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. When you’ve just about had it to HERE, close your eyes and take 3 or 4 deep, slow breaths. The rush of oxygen triggers a dopamine release in your brain which makes you calmer. 

Checkbox FORGET THE PRESENTS 

Ah, gift anxiety—not knowing what size to get, dealing with shipping, dealing with timing, spending lots of money—just don’t do it. Instead you can donate to causes in people’s names, write poems or heartfelt letters, or commit to an adventure in the spring. It really is the thought that counts. 

Checkbox RE-GIFT

Okay okay, we just said don’t do presents. But if you must, feel free to re-gift wine you’ve gotten, jewelry you’ve never worn, your own personal copy of a book that you love… no shame in taking the sustainable route (PS—if you need to wrap, here’s how to avoid the wrapping paper)! 

Checkbox WALK IT OFF  

We can’t stress this enough: Exercise makes you happy. Get your blood pumping at least a few times a week and you’ll be happy every day (trust us, we are scientists). Stuck inside? Turn on your favorite tunes and dance it out.  If you need a playlist, here’s our Rock the Holidays playlist

Checkbox PRACTICE GRATITUDE   

The key word is PRACTICE. It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well. It’s when things have fallen apart—the pies burned, the traffic is horrendous, you’re on your second hour of the annual Smith Family political debate—that’s when you practice gratitude and find something (ANYTHING!) to be grateful for. You’ll find that it is, indeed, an imperfect but happy holiday! 

Happy Environmentally Friendly Holidays!

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to break out the decorations, fill your favorite reusable mug with egg nog and spiked cider, and hang up the LED twinkle lights! That’s right, this year, consider taking an eco-friendly route to your holiday routine; make your gift-giving and personal wish lists, holiday decor and (new) traditions a little more environmentally friendly with these 5 tips. 

Organic Foods_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo_1066x696

1) Make it from scratch and keep it organic

Hosting a holiday party? Joining in on the office potluck? Prepping for the annual family holiday dinner? Consider going organic and making (most of) your dishes from scratch with those tasty organic ingredients. 

I love food and I love to cook, but I didn’t always buy organic or make meals from the ground up. For years, as Thanksgiving and Christmas approached, I would make it a point to grab a few cans of that wiggly, cylinder-molded, gelatinous so-called cranberry sauce from the grocery store shelves because it was my family’s tradition; it’s what I knew to be “cranberry sauce”. It didn’t know what I was missing until riding the bus one day, a fellow commuter told me about her family’s “famous” cranberry sauce. Authenticity is hard to beat and a homemade dish is a testament to that fact. While that gelatinous sauce is tasty, a heaping spoonful of made-with-love, slightly-sweet-yet-deliciously-tart cranberry sauce hits the spot every time.

And while not all your ingredients and food choices need to be organic, transitioning to organically grown/raised foods is a sustainable, environmentally-friendly choice. Thanks to growing consumer interest, we have more organic options than ever before right at our fingertips. Vegetables, meats, wines, beers, breads…the list goes on. Organic foods are free of synthetic-based fertilizers/pesticides, so eating and drinking organic means fewer pollutants in your system and more nutrients remaining in the land/water, keeping you and the planet a little happier and healthier.

Christmas Tree Hunting 3_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo_1066x696

Christmas Tree Hunting 2_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo_1066x696

2) Skip the plastic; go natural with holiday decor

Plastics are a big part of our culture. We find them everywhere: plastic bottles, plastic utensils, plastic packaging, plastic this and plastic that. If you’ve already transitioned your everyday items (bottles, utensils, etc.) to reusable, why not do it with your holiday decor? No matter what holiday you and your friends and family celebrate, if you love to decorate, there are a plethora of natural options. 

For those of you celebrating Hanukkah, consider natural, beeswax candles for the menorah. Often, they’re handmade and they always smell lovely. If Christmas is your holiday of choice, picking a real one is your best choice for an eco friendly Christmas tree. “Friendly fur” trees are softer to the touch while spruce tree needles are a little less forgiving. Of course, whatever species of tree you find, keep it watered and indulge in the natural piney fragrance!

You can also decorate your space with pine bows, grapevine wreaths, pine cones and dried flowers. If you go the dried flower or pine cone route, make them especially festive by spraying them silver and gold with a non-toxic paint. 

3) Buy local, share sustainability-minded gifts and skip the wrapping paper

A lot of factors go into calculating our carbon, including where our food and goods come from. If you have the option, shop locally for gifts this year. Ride your bike, walk or take public transit to local stores – and don’t forget to bring your own bag!

If you can’t find what you want locally (and even if you do), choose to buy sustainably-made gifts. Meaning, look for natural materials and fibers (wood, wool) and ethically-sourced materials in the goodies you’re gifting. 

And finally, if you’ve checked out the shipping practices at Toad&Co, you might be surprised to read that “roughly 165 billion packages are shipped in the U.S. each year, which equals more than 1 billion trees and 140 billion gallons of water used”. There’s no denying it, that’s a lot of resources being used. So whether you order online or purchase gifts at stores, choose companies that offer recycled, no-plastic packaging and skip the wrapping paper altogether. To wrap smaller items, consider using a bonus gift, like a scarf or organic cotton tea towel to keep the surprise alive (here’s a step by step tutorial for wrapping gifts in cloth). For bigger items, larger colorful towels, paper bags, and even foldable maps are great repurposed resources!

Get Outside and Ski_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo_1066x696.jpg

4) Gift experiences

If you want to take a different approach to gift-giving this year, consider gifting experiences, rather than stuff. How many pairs of socks does your partner really need? For the cocktail lover, gift a “mixologist 101” class. Wildlife enthusiast? Take them birding at the nearby refuge or city park! Lover of all things snow? Sounds like a backcountry hut trip would be a perfect option! 

Experiences create memories and make great eco friendly gifts, especially for the people on your list that are difficult to shop for or seem to already have everything.

Get Outside_Image by Ryan Michelle Scavo

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5) Celebrate outside

Just because it’s getting cooler outside, doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself up inside. ‘But how is getting outside eco-friendly’, you ask? Easy! 

First, let’s start with saving energy. Throwing a layer on and getting out of the house or apartment means you don’t have to turn the heat (i.e., your thermostat) up in your home. By keeping your energy use down, you’re saving resources and money. 

Second, staying connected to the outdoors by going for walks around town, longer hikes at parks and on trails or skiing (among other activities) reminds us how important outdoor spaces really are to ourselves and hopefully to others. If you care about a space, you tend to want to protect it! Making and maintaining a connection to the outdoors is a great way to live a more environmentally conscious life all year long.

It might be the end of the year, but the holidays are a great time to start new traditions to carry into the new year. These 5 eco friendly holiday tips are just the start – try them and then find your own ways to celebrate and live more sustainably!

Get Outside_Image by Sam Scavo_1066x696.jpg

A Pennsylvania native and Colorado transplant, Ryan is a proud mountain mama to two wild outdoors-loving kiddos and a couple of equally wild cattle dogs. She’s also a photographer, writer and outdoorswoman. When she and her husband aren’t wrangling the pack – and more often, when they are – you’ll find them fly fishing, skiing or biking somewhere around their home in southern Colorado.

Photography by Ryan Scavo and Sam Scavo.

Bring These Wines to Every Party

Come November 1st, “Pick up a bottle of wine” is a constant on our to-do lists and we’re always on the lookout for wineries with a commitment to sustainability (because a happy planet produces great wine). Here are our picks for best wines to drink for the holidays—all fellow members of 1% for the Planet, committed to donating 1% of sales to environmental causes. We’ll toast to that! 

Paradigm Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon 

This long standing partner of 1%FTP is based in the Napa Valley and makes some mighty good vino. This family-owned operation maintains a hands-on, eco-friendly approach to all winemaking—nothing is outsourced! Every bottle you uncork was grown, crushed, fermented, barrel aged, bottled and stored on site. WE LOVE: The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, a black raspberry colored Cabernet with aromatics of black cherry, berry, and plum layered with a perfect balance of new and used French Oak.

 Spottswoode Estate – Cabernet Sauvignon

Another long-standing 1%FTP member in Napa, Spottswoode was one of the first wineries in California to be certified organic. They enrich their soil with cover crops every fall, and re-establishing native California grasses in the vineyard, and use natural insect and weed management (no toxic synthetics). They also happen to made damn good wine. WE LOVE: The 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – it’s big and rich without being overwrought.

Hobo Wine Co. –  Zinfandel 

Newer to the 1% network, Hobo Wines is churning out some delicious varietals from Sonoma County grapes. Fueled by a steady stream of Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen jams, the folks at Hobo Wine infuse each bottle with good vibes and delicious notes. WE LOVE: The 2017 Rockpile Zinfandel, a co-fermentation of old vine Zin and newer Petite Syrah grapes. 

WINC – Pacificana Chardonnay 

Part of the Winc wine club powerhouse, the Pacificana label maybe be a new member of the 1%FTP family but this is some seriously seasoned Chard. WE LOVE: The 2018 Chardonnay with its tasting notes of buttered popcorn, butterscotch, candied lemon, and oak. You had us at butter. 

Bandit Wines – Pinot Grigio 

Another newbie to 1% FTP, this BOXED wine (yes yes yes) is great to bring when your holidays find you outside of the box (see what we did there?). Packaged in renewable paper packaging that is surprisingly more eco-friendly than glass (their website has a great breakdown), the brand is also committed to supporting the preservation of trails and rivers in our National Park. WE LOVE: The Pinot Grigio with its aromas of zesty citrus, pear and peach. Tart, sweet, crisp and best paired with sweeping views of Yosemite’s Half Dome. 

For more 1% for the Planet member products we love, check out our blog on 1% coffee roasters

7 Eco-Friendly Holiday Tips

We love the holidays (gathering, eating, appreciating) and Planet Earth (mountains, water, trees, life as we know it…). So this year we’re on a mission to make our favorite traditions a little more earth-friendly. Here are our 7 tips to help you have a waste-free holiday season and score some extra points on the Nice List.

 

Checkbox USE THE LEFTOVERS 

Leftovers are the ultimate holiday magic. Make turkey scrap soup, toss the last veggies in a quiche, turn old rolls into croutons… sky’s the limit.  

Checkbox LESS IS MORE 

The less stuff, the more sustainable your holidays. Forget individual presents and organize a White Elephant gift exchange or Secret Santas, or give experiences instead of things.  

Checkbox  GIFT SUSTAINABLY 

If you’re gonna gift, make it a sustainable gift. Look for brands that give back (check the 1% for the Planet directory), items that are durable and useful, and things made responsibly (ahem, we happen to do all three). 

Checkbox USE YOUR DISHWASHER 

Fill it up and run it. Most dishwashers use about 3 gallons of water, while washing the same amount by hand could use 10x that amount. Save water, drink whiskey… We mean, use a dishwasher. 

Checkbox DITCH THE WRAPPING PAPER 

Sad fact: Wrapping paper isn’t recyclable. So do whatever you have to do to avoid it. Here’s a nifty guide to Furoshiki, the Japanese art of fabric gift wrapping. 

Checkbox RE-GIFT IT

Yeah, we said it. We’re totally okay with re-gifting and you should be too. Think of it as a circular holiday economy. 

Checkbox SHOP LOCAL 

Buying local is a gift to all. It supports the community, cuts back on packaging, and keeps your carbon footprint low. Find a Toad&Co retailer in your neck of the woods and have a happy, environmentally friendly holiday!

Watch This, Drink That: Holiday Movie Drinking Games

Nothing gets us in the holiday spirit like a festive cocktail and a good holiday flick (and maybe a Cashmoore Blanket). Gather your bar cart, light a fire, and curl up – we’ve got your holiday couch agenda covered with our favorite drinking games for Christmas and holiday movies. As always, drink responsibly and refrain from operating sleighs after consumption.

Watch: Elf – Released over 15 years ago (Yikes, we know – take a drink for that), this cheery comedy is one of our Yuletide faves. Will Ferrell as the tallest, most enthusiastic elf-slash-human, can do no wrong.

Drink: Spiked egg nog, with a dash of maple syrup. Drink every time Buddy the Elf refers to himself in the third person, every time sugar is referenced, and every time you hear a holiday-friendly alternative to a swear or an insult.

New Line Cinema, via Giphy

Watch: The Santa Clause – Despite the fact that things start out a little dark (Let’s not forget this movie begins with Santa’s traumatic fall off the roof), things quickly turn around and The Santa Clause is a true holiday classic.

Drink: Hot cocoa (with peppermint schnapps). Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred. Drink every time Tim Allen raises his eyebrows, every time Neil rocks an awful (but also kind of awesome) sweater, and every time someone mentions The North Pole.

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Watch: The Holiday – Filled with adorable (and OK, totally unrealistic) meet cutes, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet’s life swap turned love story gets us in the spirit to celebrate “being young and being alive” year after year.

Drink: A champagne toast. Drink every time you catch yourself staring at Jude Law, every time someone cries, and finish your drink when you get on Airbnb to look for holiday homes.

Watch: Home Alone – Kevin McAllister, master of booby traps, makes a left-home-alone-holiday look equal parts amazing and terrifying.

Drink: Pepsi with a shot of whiskey. For the Home Alone drinking game, drink every time Kevin McAllister talks to himself (can’t say we blame him), every time Harry’s (aka Joe Pesci) gold tooth sparkles, and every time someone runs panicked through an airport.

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Watch: Bridget Jones’s Diary – A hilarious adaptation of the novel, Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones makes us all feel a little bit better about our own lives during the holidays.

Drink: A bottle of whatever is in the fridge. No time for judgment here. Drink every time there’s an expletive, every time Bridget drops some shade, and every time you see your favorite reindeer jumper.

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Watch: Die Hard – This 1988 action thriller was voted the greatest Christmas movie by readers of British film magazine Empire in 2015. Enough said.

Drink: Straight Vodka. Drink every time someone says, “This isn’t a Christmas movie,” every time there’s a reference to Christmas (to prove your point), and take a shot in Alan Rickman’s honor whenever you feel like it.

Watch: Love Actually – Nine stories intertwine to bring us a watch-every-year-and-it-never-gets-old holiday favorite. Plus, Hugh Grant dancing.

Drink: Mulled Wine (a favorite, easy recipe here). Drink every time you hear the smash-hit “Christmas is All Around,” every time someone orchestrates a big romantic gesture, and every time Sarah’s (Laura Linney) phone rings. When you’re through with the Love Actually drinking game, you’ll likely be dancing along.

Universal Pictures, via Giphy

Watch: A Very Murray Christmas – Because there’s never a bad moment for some quality time with Mr. Murray, and this eclectic musical comedy includes a lengthy list of guest appearances (George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman, Miley Cyrus, Maya Rudolph, the list goes on…)

Drink: A strong martini. Bonus points if you’ve got a white piano to sit atop. Drink every time a new celeb makes a cameo (don’t plan on driving anywhere after this game).

Watch: How the Grinch Stole Christmas – The first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a full-length feature film, this unexpectedly heartwarming holiday favorite reminds us that Christmas “doesn’t come from a store,” and that The Grinch drinking game is always a good idea.

Drink: The Santa Shot. 1 part grenadine syrup, 1 part green creme de menthe, 1 part peppermint schnapps (recipe here). Drink every time The Grinch accidentally rhymes, has a fleeting moment of feeling, and every time Cindy Lou Who visits Mount Crumpit. Finish your drink when The Grinch’s heart grows.

Universal Pictures, via Giphy

A Noble Game of Kings Cup

Stuck in a cabin or need to break the ice with your sister’s new beau? Kings Cup is the great unifier. It’s the trick up your sleeve that can turn strangers into friends and a quiet night in into a jolly holiday. Great for groups of 4 or more and doesn’t require a lot of movement. All you need is a deck of cards, adult beverages and a bit of humor. Bottom’s up!

How to Play:

To start, fan out a deck of cards face down around an empty vessel (preferably a large one.) Make sure that all players have a beverage of some sort. (Note: Lighter beer is ideal for this game since you’ll drink a fair amount. Cocktails beware.) Whoever’s birthday is next goes first. Player 1 draws a card from the table and everyone must follow the “rule”. Each card has a corresponding rule/activity (see below). When the rule has been carried out, the person to the left picks a card. Continue in this fashion until the final King card is drawn or there are no more cards on the table, the choice is yours. Remember, there are no losers in King’s Cup!

 

Card – Meaning – What to do.

Ace – Waterfall – Everyone starts chugging their drink. A player cannot stop drinking until the player to their right has stopped drinking.

2 – You – The player who draws can choose another player who must drink.

3 – Me – The player who draws must drink.

4 – Floor – Everyone at the table must reach down and touch the floor. The last player to do so must drink.

5 – Guys – All of the male players must drink.

6 – Chicks – All of the female players must drink.

7 – Heaven – Everyone at the table must put their hands in the air. The last player to do so must drink.

8 – Mate – The player who draws picks another player to be their “mate.” The mate must drink every time the original player does. This keeps going until another 8 is drawn.

9 – Rhyme – The player who draws must say phrase (“There’s so much holiday cheer”). Going to the left, players have to make up a rhyming phrase to stay in the noun (“I like to drink beer” or “the weather’s been clear”). The first player who fails to think of a rhyme must drink.

10 – Never Have I Ever – Everyone at the table must put up three fingers. Start a game of never have I ever (You say, “Never have I ever….” and if someone has done that, they put a finger down). The first player to lower all three fingers must drink.

Jack – Make A Rule – The player who draws can make a rule that must be followed for the rest of the game. Any player who breaks the rule must drink. Any player who draws a jack can overturn the rule. (ex: No pointing, must speak in an accent, must refer to all players as “sir and/or madam.”)

Queen – Question Master – The player who draws a Queen can ask questions throughout the game, but whoever answers the question must drink. Continue until another queen is drawn and a new question master is crowned.

King – King’s Cup – The player who draws must pour the remnants of their drink into the King’s Cup. When the last king is drawn, that player has to drink the King’s Cup and the game is over! Huzzah!

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“Best I’ve Ever Had” Pumpkin Pie

There’s no denying that the right pumpkin pie can be life changing. With a dollop of whipped cream and pinch of spice, a slice of pie can transform a so-so day into the highlight of the month. So this holiday season, brighten the lives of your holiday guests with a slice of “Best I’ve Ever Had” Pumpkin Pie.

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Rest assured, this recipe comes from a bona-pied baker: Norma, one of Toad&Co’s amazing Product Developers, has mastered every pie in the book (and then some).  She’s SO good, in fact, that her apple pie medaled at last year’s county fair! Norma is also an accomplished swing dancer and one helluva product developer (you can thank her for perfect arm-holes and  inseams). Turn on some tunes, round up your ingredients and get to work on your masterpiece.

Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Pie

Combine the following in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer (10-15 minutes). Make sure to mashing the yams nice and good.

1 can pumpkin (15oz.)
1 cup drained canned yams
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Whisk the following together then add to pumpkin mixture:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 eggs and 2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Strain and pour into pie crust. Bake 350° until done, about 45 minutes.

Bourbon Whipped Cream

No slice of pumpkin pie is complete without a dollop of whipped cream. Try whippin’ up some Bourbon Whipped Cream to really get the party started.

1 cup heavy cream, well-chilled
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
4 teaspoons bourbon (and 2 oz. for sipping…)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a chilled bowl and beat until soft peaks form and cream is billowy. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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Need a delicious cocktail for your holiday party? Or just something to keep warm? These delicious drinks should do the trick!

Day 24 Advent: Santa Tracker

 

It’s Christmas Eve which means two things: Tomorrow is the last day of our 25 Days of Toad Advent Calendar AND it’s finally Christmas Day! So for our Day 24 treat, we figured we’d pass only something useful… We already gave you the best places to see Santa, but check the NORAD Santa Tracker to see when he’ll be in you neck of the woods.

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And though there are a lot of Santa Trackers out there, we trust the NORAD program – it’s been around since 1955 and is based out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado (primo spot with all those dark skies out there). NORAD, or The North American Aerospace Defense Command, is a bi-national organization tasked with monitoring the skies of North America.  Or perhaps it’s Santa’s elves. We’re really not entirely sure… Check back tomorrow for the final Advent goody and have a wonderful Christmas Eve with your loved ones.

http://www.noradsanta.org/embed.html

Day 23 Advent: Best Airport Bars

 

December 23rd is the busiest travel day of the year. If you’re traveling by air, then you need a drink. Mini bottles aside, for Day 23 of our 25 Days of Toad Advent, here’s our list of the Best Airport Bars in North America. Sit back with a cold one and marvel at the wonders of flight, count your blessings, and keep an ear out for last call – boarding, not bar service. Traveling for the holidays sure does have its perks.

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LAX: Vino Volo

Located in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, Vino Volo is the place to get an amazing glass of wine. With a sommelier on staff, sidle up to the bar and ask the som’ what’s new and what’s good. Or better yet, do a sampling. No Two-Buck-Chuck here. Best part about it? You’ll find Vino Volo in a handful of airports around the country.

Atlanta International Airport : One Flew South

Make your way to Terminal E for the best southern cocktail east of the Mississippi. After a couple of drinks at One Flew South you wont even remember that you’re in an airport. Get an Old Fashioned and the Pulled Duck Sliders for some good southern cookin’, right on the concourse.

San Diego International Airport: Stone Brewing

Wander over to Terminal 2 for Stone Brewing, a scaled-down version of San Diego’s beloved farm-to-table craft brewery. Sit at the bar and order a cold one from one of their 12 taps (10 from Stone Brewing, 2 rotating beers from other craft breweries). We like their IPAs, but you really can’t go wrong.

PDX: Rogue’s Public House

Portland is known for it’s killer food trucks and unrivaled craft beers, so it’s no surprise that the Portland International Airport would continue the tradition. Grab a beer at Rogue’s Public House in Concourse D. They start serving booze at 6:30am, so if you’re on London time then you’re just in time for a lunch beer. Grab a local ale, charge your phone and watch whatever game is on. Bring on the layovers.

SFO: SF Uncork’d

If you’re into cozy wine bars, you can’t beat SF Uncork’d located in Terminal 3. It’s sleek, has views of the runway, and will leave you niiiiiiice and relaxed before your flight. Get a flight of local California wines then buy a bottle of your favorite for the plane (actually opening it is between you and the flight attendant).

Charlotte Douglas International Airport: Whiskey River

Modeled after the popular nightclub in Uptown Charlotte, Whiskey River is a little slice of Charlotte smack dab in the middle of Concourse E. Good beer, live music and tater tots with pulled pork. Better re-route through Charlotte.

Chicago Midway: Reilly’s Daughter Irish Pub

Only in Chicago can you find a traditional, Southside neighborhood tavern in the back of Concourse B. Belly up to the bar for a pint of Guinness or an Irish coffee – better make it a double if it’s a long layover. They don’t serve food but you can bring your own, and if you ask nicely, the bartender may make you a “to-go” cup when you’re off to catch a flight. This may just be the best bar ever.