The specialty drinks are part of a larger push to get passengers to pay for a little in-flight luxury. Fliers can now opt for more legroom, Internet access or even shorter security lines, all for an extra fee. Those perks and others -- along with baggage fees -- now account for nearly 7 percent of U.S. airlines' revenue. That's up from just 2 percent five years ago. The government doesn't require airlines to break out specific data on alcohol sales.
But airlines are clearly doing everything they can to drive liquor sales. And it's not just by putting fancy drinks on the menu.
Want to buy a drink for that lovely lady across the aisle? Virgin America will soon launch a "send a drink" feature. Passengers can use the plane's seatback entertainment system to buy their neighbors a margarita, merlot or maybe a shot of tequila.
When people fly is a significant factor in how much they'll drink, according to GuestLogix, which processes about 90 percent of onboard credit card transactions for North American airlines.
Fliers drink more on Thursdays than any other day of the week, with alcohol sales in the past year averaging $62 per flight, according to GuestLogix. For many consultants, salesmen and other frequent fliers, Thursday marks the end of their week away from home.
"That's when I let loose and wind down," says Oscar Rondon, a road warrior and director of cable network sales systems for WideOrbit. "After a long week, it's a nice reward ... even if it's in a little tiny plastic cup."
Fliers drink the least on Mondays -- average liquor sales per flight are 44 percent below Thursdays.
Time of year and the destination also determine how many Bloody Marys, vodka tonics and beers are poured.
The week of March 8 -- spring break -- had the highest overall liquor sales in the past 12 months at nearly $58 a flight. The slowest time of year is right after Christmas and New Year's, when passengers have already had plenty to drink and many are traveling with their families.
Alcohol sales on flights heading to Las Vegas average $99, nearly double the industry average. The trip home isn't as happy; only $49 in liquor is sold per flight.
"Vegas passengers are big drinkers," says Betty Thesky, a flight attendant with a major U.S. airline and author of "Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase: Hilarious Stories of Air Travel by the World's Favorite Flight Attendant." Those are the same folks "who sat in the 'smoking section' back in the day."