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Chicago airport drinking spots up their class

New wine bars open in O'Hare International Airport

February 15, 2012|By Katie Karpowicz, for RedEye

Flying makes a lot of people a little nervous and a few people really nervous. So, the need to take the edge off before a flight is understandable. Lately, O’Hare International Airport has been making it a lot easier—and classier—for pre-boarders to tip back a couple drinks before takeoff.

The airport opened its first two wine bars –Bubbles and Beaudevin Wine Bars—over the weekend of Feb. 11. The bars are located in Terminal 3 and 1 of the airport, respectively. This follows the rising popularity of wine bars in European airports and a 14 percent increase in U.S. wine sales last year, according to Steve Douglas, vice president of business development for HMSHost. HMSHost manages many of the restaurants and bars in O'Hare.

"People find wine today to be a fun and approachable beverage," Douglas said. "Both men and women enjoy it, and with the more unique tastes and flavors on the market today, wine is no longer just for special occasions; what we’re seeing in our restaurants bears that out."

This points to a trend the uptick of the quality of airport drinking spots. With Spring Break journeys quickly approaching, travelers need not settle for a spot at the Chili’s Express bar anymore. O'Hare's new wine bars even offer sushi menus and periodic live piano music.

The focus of quantity to quality concerning airport bars has shifted so far that review websites like are beginning to pop up online.

Even Chicago’s own fine dining aficionado Rick Bayless has extended his restaurants to the sky-bound crowd. Bayless opened two locations of Fronteras Tortas in O’Hare last year. The Mexican-themed restaurants are known for their namesake tortas and margaritas.

So whether you’re in need a little relaxation-inducing libation or a warm-up for a trip south of the border, O’Hare has what your liver desires.

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