Setting up a Tailgate Bar

Setting up a Tailgate Bar

January 28, 2017 0 By Aaron Goldfarb

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics MN TAILGATEMASTER.COM Admiral BigGun

Setting up a Tailgate Bar

Sporting events are now all-day operations in North America, thanks mainly to the tailgate. Whether before or after the game, whether operating on a literal truck tailgate in the stadium parking lot or comfortably at home and in front of the big-screen television – or perhaps some other place altogether (see below) – the tailgate is a perfect combination of pageantry and indulgence.

But what to indulge in, drinks-wise?

Bringing a big cooler of beer is easy enough, but you aren’t going to win any points from fellow fans. And don’t you want to be the guy or gal that makes everyone else jealous? If you really want to amp up your ’gate, you’re going to need a cocktail program. No, you’re not going to need, or want, to start whipping up boozy Manhattans and martinis (although that could be fun). Instead, you’ll probably want to master a mix of simple daytime drinks – long, light, and easy to make – that can come in the form of everything from spritzes to beer cocktails to punches and pre-batched libations. Tailgating is a marathon, not a sprint, and these drinks will be the perfect sippers to get you from that expected early morning arrival all the way to game time – with still enough lucidity left to actually root your favorite team on.

What to Bring to the Big Game
Now is not the time to bring that bottle of 30-year-old single-malt Scotch (save that for when your team finally wins a championship). Likewise, you aren’t going to need to lug 100 bottles around with you just to ensure you can make any drink possible. A massive number of cocktails can be made with less than a dozen bottles on hand.

what you need for a tailgating bar

Setting up a do it yourself tailgate bar


Start with the base spirits, all of which can be grabbed for $20 to $30 at most for a decent bottle. Your must-haves include: a vodka (recommended: Deep Eddy or Stoli), a gin (Beefeater or Tanqueray), a light rum (Wray & Nephew White Overproof), a silver tequila (Espolón), and a bourbon (Old Grand-Dad, Wild Turkey 101, or Maker’s Mark). A spiced rum (Gosling’s or Appleton Special Reserve) and reposado/añejo tequila would be nice, but not necessary.

As for alcoholic mixers, opt for a sweet and dry vermouth (Dolin, in both cases), one versatile amaro (Campari or Aperol), as well as some aromatic bitters (Angostura). For non-alcoholic mixers, grab some tonic water and soda water (Schweppes or Canada Dry is fine). The night before the party, squeeze a good quantity of both lemon and lime juice [NOTE: one lemon/lime is equal to about 1.5 ounces of juice]. Fresh juice will really up your cocktail game.

Additionally, lug along some more lemons and limes for wedges and swaths, along with oranges and cherries (skip those neon-red “Maraschino” cherries and instead go for ones a little higher-end). Bring a shaker or two, something to stir with, and a paring knife for cutting garnishes. You can also never have enough ice.

Tailgate Drinks that ‘Work’
Tailgates are all-day affairs, often starting before noon and ending after the game, when it’s already dark. Thus, if you want to be sipping on cocktails all day long, it’s going to have to be something light. “Spirit-forward” cocktails – as they’re called in the industry – may be delicious, but they’re not appropriate for tailgating festivities. What you’ll want to make so-called “long” cocktails – yes, that actually refers to length of the glass – made with a touch of spirits but mostly composed of fruit juices, tonic and soda waters, and, of course, plenty of ice.

five daytime coctails

Thank You to our friends at FIX.COM for allowing us to share these methods with you! I’m sure you will find them useful at your next tailgate. 😀



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