Game Day Cocktail Recipes: For the Perfect Pre-Game Party

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One of the most important seasons is upon us: tailgating. I believe football has also started.

I’ve never turned down a beer served from the bed of a pickup truck, but I think it’s not a bad idea to serve a beverage that’ll set your pre-stadium experience above the rest. With that in mind, here are five fan-tastic drink recipes for pre-game parties.

Football Punch
My favorite football-watching beverage, this can turn a run-of-the-mill pigskin wing-ding into a memorable evening. It’s easy to make, super tasty, and serves a bunch of fellow fans. Heck, I like it so much I made a Football Punch video. This recipe is from Dark Spirits and serves about 10: Fill a large punch bowl halfway full with ice cubes. Add a 750-milliliter bottle of dark rum, 10 ounces sweet vermouth, 5 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice, 5 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice, and 16 ounces apple juice. Stir with a pennant from your team of choice. Add two 25-1/2 ounce bottles sparkling apple cider, carefully, and then 2 apples cut into slices. Stir well. Serve in punch glasses, mugs, or little plastic footballs.

The Kick Off
This cocktail is a little more adventuresome than most drinks served alongside hotdogs; you may get a look when you first strain this for a fellow football freak. But once they taste its layers of awesomeness, you’ll be the champion (thanks to Good Spirits, where this recipe is from): Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add 1-1/2 ounces gin (Sound Spirits Ebb+Flow gin would be a score here), 1/2 ounce dry vermouth, 1/2 ounce Benedictine, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, and two dashes Angostura bitters. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a lemon twist over the glass and then drop it in like the ball dropping through the uprights with no time left on the clock.

Heirloom Tomato G&T
This is sort-of a hybrid between the Bloody Mary and the plain old Gin & Tonic. To me, it seems pretty ideal for a Seattle sports fan, one who screams loud at the game, but only after visiting a farmer’s market on their way to the stadium. The recipe’s from the wonderful book Organic, Shaken and Stirred: Add 3 ounces chopped organic heirloom tomatoes, a big handful organic herb leaves (basil, dill, thyme, tarragon, or whatever looks good at the market) and half an organic lime, quartered, to a pint glass or mixing glass. Muddle well. Add 1-1/2 ounces gin (here, I’d go with Sun Liquor Hedge Trimmer gin), a generous splash of tonic water, and a large handful of ice cubes and stir. Serve in a cocktail glass, chilled if possible, and rimmed with salt and pepper if you want.

Cameron’s Kick
I’m not sure which Cameron was being celebrated with the creation of this drink, but he must have been quite a kicker. If needed, feel free to change the name in honor of your favorite field-goal-er. The recipe here, also from Dark Spirits, carries a big kick itself, so I wouldn’t have too many if you want to see the final snap: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add 1-1/2 ounces Scotch (I suggest a blended variety, like the Famous Grouse), 1-1/2 ounce Irish whiskey (Powers would be nice), 3/4 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 3/4 ounces orgeat syrup. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

The Frank Booth
At least one beer cocktail is needed here, and this one is friendlier than the name might suggest. The drink’s featured in the cheers-worthy book Beer Cocktails: 50 Superbly Crafted Cocktails that Liven Up Your Lagers and Ales, in which the drink is described as “a sort-of classic from the seedy underbelly of the Pacific Northwest.” To make, fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add 2 ounces whiskey (I’d go with bourbon) and 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice and shake well. Strain equally into two old-fashioned glasses. Top each with 5 ounces chilled Pabst Blue Ribbon and garnish with a lime wedge. 

Looking for food ideas? I suggest sourcing Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home. 

All recipes copyright Harvard Common Press