Summer travel season is in full swing. And while that means beaches and family reunions, luxury resorts and cruises, it can also bring long layovers in the world’s busiest airport: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Whether passengers are waiting through planned breaks between flights or dealing with unexpected delays in ATL, it’s only natural that they crave a well-crafted cold drink to stay refreshed and relaxed. And the place to get that drink? One Flew South, the fine-dining spot in Hartsfield-Jackson’s Concourse E. We caught up with bartender Tiffanie Barriere to find out what all the buzz is about.
What are your goals with developing the cocktail program?
The craft behind classics has always interested me. I’m smitten by the past, and I wanted to bring that into One Flew South. We opened five years ago, and we’ve focused on cocktails of the past, on bringing them forward. They’re strong yet classy, and that’s what people like these days — something that can serve a point and still have some history to it. So that’s how we do it at One Flew South, with lots of integrity and respect for the past cocktails.
I’m an energy girl, so I go with the seasons. As my chef [Duane Nutter] does farm-to-table, I do farm-to-bar — what’s in season, what’s looking fresh. We incorporate a lot of teas into our cocktails; we do lots of fresh ginger, fresh basil and mint.
What are the worst things to drink before a long flight?
Straight spirits — drinking them neat — can sometimes be a little rough because of the sugar inside. I think a cocktail is much better, something with effervescence, or a glass of champagne. Too much sugar can make you dehydrated, especially when you get up in the air and the altitude changes.
What’s the best cocktail to drink before getting on the plane?
Something you can stretch. People think that when you travel, you have to slam a bunch of drinks before you go, but we just like to make a nice, solid cocktail. Anything with fresh juice inside, something that smells really good and can work with your senses as well as keeping you awake and alert — to watch the time, to stay aware of any changes that might occur. I’d order something light and fragrant with juice or maybe champagne or soda.
As a guest, your flight, where you’re going and your mission means a lot to us. We only have 10 seats at the bar, and we’re very in tune with every individual. We look at things like whether or not you ate before your flight, if you’re nervous, if you want to relax — all of that helps us find you the perfect drink.
What should stressed or nervous flyers drink?
When I’m stressed, something that helps me is effervescence. A glass of champagne is thirst-quenching and elegant. It speaks character, and after a long day, it’s kind of deserved. Try champagne first, or a really bold glass of wine — something white. If you’re really nervous, a really good red wine. I like malbecs.
And for people who are used to flying or may have to work through the flight?That’s where the classics come in, those craft cocktails with a story that can add to a travel experience. When I say classic, I mean 1850s to 1930s. We try to take the business travelers out of their business mode and give them some history and a good drink, like the Classic 1895, with bitters, sugar, and bourbon. We do our Old Fashioned the old-fashioned way.
What do you recommend pairing with drinks?
We have a great sushi bar. It’s healthy yet there are still some carbs around. If you’re starving and you’ve had a few drinks, I recommend a salad and two sushi rolls. There are eight bites to a roll, so it’s good and hearty.
For protein, we have an amazing Kobe burger with goat cheese and shiitake mushrooms, and our No. 1 dish is the pork belly. It sits on parsnip purée, black-eyed peas and caramelized onions. I’ve seen people cry for this dish. There’s also a pulled duck sandwich with duck confit on a bun. There are so many ways we can get you full; it’s just a matter of how full you want to get.
How do you make sure people stay hydrated?
We keep an eye on people, especially because people get frustrated and angry, and when you feel like that, you want to drink. We keep a lot of water around; it’s a constant service. And we course out cocktails. If someone says, “Give me three of those,” we’re going to put a pause on it. We take our time. We start them off with beer, move to wine and then maybe a cocktail. The sugar content in wine keeps people stagnant; if you’re on wine, you’re in a good zone.
Spirits, alcohol, cocktails — that brings energy and gets people a little rowdy, so we’re careful with that.
Have you learned any good travel tips?
Water is the key. And carry salty snacks — just stay logical.
Would you ever consider opening a non-airport restaurant?
It’s totally been a thought. I think it’s possible — if people request it, if people want to back it up. But fine dining in travel is kind of unheard of in America, so it’s cool that we’re in this niche.
So you’re happy where you are.
We have great loyalty with our guests. We bring in a really cool society of frequent travelers, and they don’t get enough great service and great food and drink in airports, so we love to surprise them with a great meal, some good conversation, and a cool cocktail.
People do like to say that we have “the most expensive valet ever,” since you can’t get in without a ticket. We are trying to bring One Flew South into the city more with events and dinners, trying to hit some folks that we’ve missed and show people who we are and what we do, that we’re one of the best restaurants even though we’re tucked away in the airport.
Chef [Nutter] and I love the community, and we love to show people what we have whenever we can.