It’s football season again. Part of the thrill, in addition to the touchdowns and cheering for your team, is the tailgating experience. Whether your gathering is in the backyard or is an elaborate parking lot bash, game day is best when the host is well prepped and ready. The ease of popping open a cold beer is not the only game in town. Without playing bartender, you can deliver a spot-on cocktail by mixing up a batch in advance. So, pull out the cornhole and color-coordinated plastic cups, and add to your pregame parking lot ritual with these suggestions from the experts. You even can change the recipe’s name to fit your team.
Garden and Gun Club recently introduced a new fall cocktail menu with a woodsy drink that has a hint of Georgia pines (or perhaps hedges?). “The well-balanced cocktail is simple to assemble and can be batched ahead of game day, making it perfect for tailgating,” said bartender Michael Gann. With this one, you will be set for a crowd.
Into the Woods, courtesy of Garden and Gun Club’s Michael Gann
9 1/3 cups Rittenhouse rye whiskey
9 1/3 cups Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
9 1/3 cups Luxardo maraschino cherry liqueur
4¾ cups fresh lemon juice, divided
Fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Add the whiskey, liqueurs and lemon juice to a large beverage cooler with a spigot. Stir well. Serve over ice. Garnish with rosemary sprig, if desired.
Garden and Gun Club. 2605 Circle 75 Parkway, Atlanta. 770-726-0925, gardenandgunclub.com.
Wayne Curtis, author of “And a Bottle of Rum,” may be a rum expert, but his game day go-to is a stiffer drink he likes to batch. “The Rebbenack, created by Chris Hannah, is the perfect fall cocktail, with lots of rich, lingering notes and a touch of citrus. Nothing fussy about it — as solid as a stadium and as dark as an early fall sunset,” he said. “It’s best to break it out in the second half, as the proof is pretty high-caliber.”
The Rebbenack, courtesy of Wayne Curtis
15 ounces rye whiskey
7½ ounces Averna Italian liqueur
2½ ounces Creole Shrubb or other orange liqueur
2½ teaspoons Peychaud’s bitters
Add all the ingredients to an empty 750-milliliter bottle or other serving vessel. Serve over ice.
Jerry Slater’s restaurant and bar, The Expat, is right in the heart of Georgia Bulldog country. He suggests a refreshing mixer with citrus and herbal notes that can be made with either vodka or gin. This one comes straight out of “The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails,” which he co-wrote with Sara Camp Milam.
Ruby Slipper, courtesy of The Expat’s Jerry Slater
1 cup sugar
3 rosemary sprigs
1 750-milliliter bottle vodka
4 cups ruby red grapefruit juice
4 cups sparkling water, divided
Make the rosemary syrup: Add the sugar and one cup water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the rosemary sprigs, cover, and let steep 30 minutes. Strain and discard the rosemary. Refrigerate the syrup until cool.
Combine the vodka, grapefruit juice and syrup in a large pitcher. Serve over ice, topping each serving with sparkling water.
The Expat. 1680 Lumpkin St., Athens. 706-521-5041, theexpatathen.com.
Everyone at Leon’s Full Service in Decatur knows bartender Zach Cable as a fantasy football nerd. As the trees start to bring forth fall colors, he likes to sip warm bourbon. “Having a cocktail to warm me up reminds me of the feeling of running my first laps of football practice as a kid. This variation of a hot toddy is a favorite of mine to pack up in a thermos and take to a tailgate,” he said.
Hot Tin Roof, courtesy of Leon’s Full Service’s Zach Cable
1½ cups honey
5½ cups water, divided
5 cups bourbon (such as ASW Fiddler brand) or brandy (such as ASW Armour and Oak brand)
2/3 cup ginger syrup
6¼ teaspoons Angostura bitters
2½ cups fresh lemon juice
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg, for garnish (optional)
Make the honey syrup: In a small bowl, combine the honey and ½ cup water. Stir until the honey is diluted.
To a large saucepan, add the honey syrup, the remaining 5 cups water, bourbon, ginger syrup and bitters. Heat over low heat. Once the mixture has warmed, remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to an insulated thermos to keep the drink warm. Agitate the thermos before pouring into mugs. Garnish each serving with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired.
Leon’s Full Service. 131 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-678-0500, leonsfullservice.com.
If your school doesn’t have a football team, as is the case with Emory University, mix up a batch of something a little boozy and bitter. We’ll call it an Undefeated Since 1836.
1 cup dry gin
¾ cup water
2/3 cup vermouth
2/3 cup Campari
All all the ingredients to a large pitcher. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve over ice.