Shoot from the Hip

The dos and don'ts of flask drinking


"Smuggling" is an ugly word, so let's just say the flask is the gentlemanly way of transporting alcohol into situations where it might not be otherwise available. Made from stainless steel and curved to hug your hip or thigh, the flask has remained largely unchanged since Prohibition, and continues to be all things to all drinkers. It's equally at home on tailgates and bleachers, at boring weddings and bonfires; you can slip it inside a cowboy boot, a suit pocket, or even a sturdy garter.

If you've yet to enter the world of flask drinking, here are a few things to remember that will help you get the most out of what could be a long, beautiful relationship with the world's coolest drinking vessel.
1.) Do give them as gifts.

The flask is as close as you can come to a foolproof gift. There's one in nearly every price category, they're easy to engrave, and even tee-totalers can fill them with a non-alcoholic beverage. Anybody who has one can always use another, and anybody who doesn't want one is lying, or is someone who should come off of your gift list. Permanently.

2.) Do fill it with whiskey.

There's no way this can go wrong. It's great at room temperature, great if you want to splash it over ice, and great in whatever you come across that you might want to spike (up to and including ribs). Now, that said ...

3.) Don't underestimate the portability of cocktails.

The classic choice is to fill your flask with a single, swiggable spirit, or something you can use to subtly amp up your own coffee or punch. But don't overlook the joys of carrying a perfectly-mixed Sidecar, Manhattan, or Old-Fashioned in your pocket -- just make sure to avoid cocktails with cream, soda, or egg whites or anything else you don't want coddled or flattened by your body heat. If it's something that will work best cold (a gimlet, say), and you'll be drinking it rather quickly, mix it and stick it in the freezer before heading out the door.

4.) Do expect to share.

You're going to carry a flask and not share it with your friends / fellow parishoners / other people standing in line at 5AM for discounted TVs on Black Friday? Don't be that guy. The flask is not for germophobes.

5.) Do mind your liquor laws.

Yep, even when it's screwed shut, that flask in your hand or your jacket or glove compartment is an open container. Those are illegal most places. Know before you go. (Don't even think about getting a full one through airport security, unless you enjoy long days in small rooms with the TSA.)

6.) Don't get precious about it.

It's a flask, not a thermos, a bra or a tea set. Don't do anything that would make Humphrey Bogart roll his eyes at you: No leather paneling, no tiny matching cups in your bag, and for the love of all that's cool and holy? No Ed Hardy.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: raeson8
    176355 3

    No Ed Hardy!!! Hahaha, complete agreement.

    Nov 05, 2010 at 7:44 PM

  • Snooth User: LostNCove
    419655 2

    I totally got mine through airport security. Don't even ask me how--I forgot it was full. But mmmm Bailey's on the plane. Don't try this at home, kids.

    Nov 06, 2010 at 2:30 AM

  • Snooth User: rlchrist
    624625 11

    Flasks are the norm at Renaissance Faires. And yup, we have them "paneled in leather" so we can attach them to our belts. Also makes it better not to slip out of the hand.

    Nov 06, 2010 at 7:29 AM

  • Snooth User: gsmantell
    440628 2

    What happened to my earlier comment? Where's the point explaining how stainless steel flasks taint the spirit, but titanium does not??

    Nov 06, 2010 at 5:14 PM

  • Snooth User: mrchili
    420561 7

    Might want to be careful about those highly acidic drinks (lemon, lime juice, etc.) because of what a previous poster hit on....tainting the flavor. For those type of drinks, go with a (heaven forbid) a plastic model.

    Nov 07, 2010 at 7:55 PM

  • Nice article, though I have a couple of vintage flasks that do have partial leather coverings (and are actually pewter, not stainless steel). Their authenticity and wear makes the leather a nice part of their appeal, not some cheesy add-on.

    Nov 11, 2010 at 10:20 AM

  • Snooth User: MrKofATV
    640092 1

    How long can you leave straight booze (say 21yr Jura Scotch) in a stainless flask?

    Nov 14, 2010 at 6:13 PM

  • Snooth User: McMickey
    247567 2

    I have a nice one, inherited from my father : It is made of glass and covered with metal. My whisky can stay in there indefinitely (but, surely enough, does not !).

    Nov 19, 2010 at 11:22 AM

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