It’s true that food is the star of tailgating, but what is game day without quenching the thirst of loyal fans? From sweet treats for kids to adult beverages, here are a few tips and tricks for making the beverage portion of your day easier.
Keep it cold
Plan ahead by checking the forecast for game day. If temps are set to soar above 80 degrees, you’ll want to stock up early on ice and plan for truly thirst-quenching recipes. Or, freeze water bottles to mix in the cooler. They’ll keep the beer cold and everyone hydrated by the time they melt. If serving cocktails, consider freezing some of your cocktail mix or wine in ice cube trays. Bring extra, unfrozen drinks to pour over the cubes. Label your coolers so friends know where to look for beer, wine, water or sodas. They’ll spend less time with the cooler open, keeping things cold longer.
Keep it hot
For those chilly, fall days when the coats and scarves come out, hot chocolate can truly warm your soul. Turn a cooler into a warmer by lining the cooler with foil and using hot foil-wrapped bricks. Or invest in a few thermos bottles. You can even find a stainless steel vacuum insulated bottle that promises to keep beverages hot for up to 12 hours.
Don’t forget the kids
If your tailgate includes children, let them join in the fun safely by designating a cooler with beverages just for them. If serving a signature cocktail, consider a non-alcoholic version for the kids. Just be sure to carefully mark containers and monitor consumption. Sometimes it is just fun for the kids to have their own special team logo cup.
Make your job easier
Stocking a full bar isn’t out of the question, but a lot of work. Stick to what you know your guests will enjoy most. If you’re serving cocktails, mix up a pitcher or two ahead of time. Then just add ice or those frozen cubes when serving.
Pick a beverage theme
If everyone enjoys cold beer, you can have some fun by trying new brands each week. Serve all Georgia-brewed beers one week and all imports the next. Playing an Irish team, look for all the Irish import brews. You can have the same fun with wine and spritzers. When your game-day theme calls for Mexican food, plan on a pitcher of sangria.
Or consider tying a recipe that reflects your opposing team. For this week’s UGA game against Alabama, we recommend a Bloody Mary Bar. Bulldog fans can literally wash down the Crimson Tide (see recipe below).
Don’t ruin your fun by over-indulging. Rule of thumb: Drink one bottle of water between every alcoholic beverage. You’ll stay hydrated and avoid becoming the “did you see that” story the next day.
Crimson Tide Bloody Mary Bar
Prepare your basic ingredients the night before: vodka (don’t be cheap) and a high-quality Bloody Mary mix. We like Zing Zang. The flavors will merge and everyone will rave.
Serve up this list of choices in individual bowls along with long toothpicks or skewers (and anything else that strikes your fancy). Your guests can then pick and choose how they want to dress up their Mary.
Kosher pickle spears
Pimento or cheese stuffed green olives
Pickled beans and asparagus
Pickled beets, cauliflower or carrots
Pepperocinis, peppadews or other peppers
Large caper berries
Marinated artichoke hearts
Marinated pearl onions
Have plenty of ice on hand. Bloody Marys are best when refreshingly cold, so top glasses to the rim and serve with cold Mary mix.
Secret: Put Old Bay spices on a plate. Guests can dip their cup on a wet plate, then twist around in the Old Bay for a spicy rim before preparing their Bloody Mary.