The One Drink You Should Always Order On A Flight

If you haven't tried ginger ale on a flight, you haven't lived...

The One Drink You Should Always Order On A Flight

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From showing off your guns mid-air to blocking the aisle for a spot of tandem yoga to giving yourself a tattoo, there are many things you should never do on a flight. But there’s one thing that many people think you should always do, and that’s drink ginger ale.

There’s many schools of thought when it comes to what you should drink whilst you fly. Business class bandits swear by smashing as much champagne as you can from takeoff to landing. Others say Bloody Marys taste better at 40,000ft. But ginger ale? Let’s dive on in and work out why it’s supposed to be so good.

History time. The refreshing soft drink known as ginger ale first started off as ginger beer – an alcoholic Victorian-era beverage invented in Yorkshire, England. The first evolution of the drink occurred in about 1851 when the first ginger ales were created in Ireland (ironically, given this is the Irish we’re talking about, with no alcohol).

The next stage in the drink’s evolution came in 1907, when John McLaughlin, a Canadian pharmacist, invented the modern Canada Dry version of ginger ale. McLaughlin sold his product to local drugstores that used carbonated water to mix with juices and flavouring to create soft drinks to sell to their soda fountain customers.

According to Thought Co, “By 1907, John McLaughlin had refined his recipe by lightening the dark colour and improving the sharp taste of his first ginger ale. The result was Canada Dry Pale Dry Ginger Ale, which John McLaughlin patented.”

“This ‘pale’ style of ginger ale made a fine, flavorful substitute for club soda, especially during the Prohibition era in the U.S., when the spice of the ginger ale covered up the less-than-refined illegal alcoholic spirits available,” they explain.

WATCH a seasoned flight attendant discuss what your in-flight drink order says about you below.

This brings us back to you. Why should you reach for ginger ale on a flight rather than beer or gin or wine, or even fruit juice?

The main reason is taste – allegedly, ginger ale tastes better at altitude than it does on the ground.

This is because our taste buds act differently when we fly, thanks to the combination of drier air and cabin pressure, which inhibit our sense of taste and smell. To put this into perspective, the air inside your plane’s cabin is about as dry as it is on top of a mountain peak that’s 7,000 feet above sea level.

Sweetness and saltiness are the sensations that are dulled the most, so drinks like a Bloody Mary – which are a bit hectic on the ground – taste fresher and more moreish up in the air. In other words: the satiating flavours punch through, and the sickly sweet ones don’t.

Travel + Leisure explains that “when you’re in a plane, a ginger ale’s extra sweetness may not register on your taste buds, making your ginger drink extra-dry and sharp.”

Reach for the Bundy ginger beer rather than the rum next time you fly.

They also report that the ginger itself (in the ginger ales that actually contain ginger, which is not all of them) can make you feel good, due to its medicinal benefits and anti-inflammatory properties. They also point out that its bubbles dissipate quicker than other drinks like Diet Coke, which means it’s better for flight attendants (as they can serve it more quickly).

Ginger is also recommended by some to help you cope with travel sickness, as it can reduce the feeling of nausea. But again, that only works with ginger ales that actually have ginger in them, like Australia’s very own Bundaberg Ginger Beer. (Products called ‘ginger beer’ as opposed to ‘ginger ale’ are more likely to have more real ginger in them, by the way.)

For example, the aforementioned Canada Dry these days only has an estimated ginger compound content of around two parts per million – far below the threshold for human taste, and far lower than any amount that could have health benefits, Canada’s National Post reports.

Still – medicinal benefits aside, ginger ale just tastes bloody good up in the clouds. Give it a go next time you fly.

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