Bartenders Tell Us The Best Spirits To Bring To A Tailgate


Fall has arrived and tailgating season is in full swing. It’s late enough in the NFL and college football seasons that you already know whether or not to completely give up on your favorite team (looking at you Buffalo), but it’s still warm enough for some outdoor pre-gaming.

Last week, we wrote about bartender’s favorite beers to bring to a tailgate. All of their choices paired well with the classic football pregame foods we know and love (burgers, wings, and dips galore). This week, we looked to our favorite bartenders for even more tailgating advice. We asked them what spirits to bring to your next tailgate to enjoy after (or during) your meal.

You can check out all of their liquor picks below.

Garrison Brothers Bourbon

Tim Weigel, chief mixologist at The Hakkasan Group

“Garrison Brothers bourbon – It has bold oak notes that dance with the smoked and roasted flavors of BBQ. It also gets you warmed up for the game, especially in colder climates.”

Powers Irish Whiskey

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Time for whiskey, coffee and brownies!

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Dave Gray, bar manager at Independence Brewing Co. in Austin, Texas

“What’s my favorite spirit to bring to a tailgate? Powers Irish Whiskey. Do other spirits even exist once you’ve had that?”

Illegal Mezcal

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#illegalmezcal #mezcal #tequila #mohegansun

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Will Benedetto, cocktail curator at In Good Company Hospitality in New York City

“Oh, that’s easy. Everyone brings bourbon to a tailgate, so I say ‘dare to be different.’ I always pack a bottle of Ilegal Mezcal. Ilegal puts out a remarkable product that is responsibly sourced and consistently delicious. I don’t mix it with anything, chill it, or even look for some ice. If we are being honest, I don’t even think it requires a cup. Just pass around the bottle.”

Tito’s Vodka

Camilo Tavera, Lead Bartender at Hakkasan located inside Fontainebleau Miami Beach

“What’s my favorite spirit to bring to a tailgate? A chilled bottle of Tito’s Vodka.”

Simple Vodka

Paul Kolbe, partner and mixologist at MIDNIGHTS in Brooklyn

“Simple Vodka is my go to. It mixes with everything, especially fresh fruits, and even tastes great iced and neat. It is also great because they donate 20 meals to hunger relief organizations for every bottle sold.”

Crown Royal

Melissa Forgea, bar manager at Giordano’s in Las Vegas

“For a tailgate, you need a complimentary spirit to wash down all the burgers and hotdogs! My pick would be Crown Royal or Bulleit Rye whiskey.”

Highwest Campfire

Kaitlyn Chiletti, beverage director at Public School on Tap

“I would have to say Whiskey for tailgating. A nice shot of Highwest Double Rye or Campfire (blend of Scotch, rye, and bourbon) to ease the tension when stakes are high.”

Casa Noble Tequila

Zach Sasser, head bartender at Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar in Austin, Texas

“Tequila! Although I’m a whiskey guy, tequila is better for a long game. If I’m not sharing, I pack Casa Noble single barrel Reposado or Anejo. If I’m being generous, I like Espolon’s reposado or bourbon barrel añejo. Killer pours for a great price.”

Eagle Rare

Brice Peressini, bar lead at The Victor at Parq Vancouver

“Bourbon and BBQ were made for each other. I love the sweet smoothness of Eagle Rare. Great in an old-fashioned, or on its own. Please don’t put coke in it.”

Wild Turkey

Josh Cameron head bartender, Boulton & Watt in New York City

“I love having a secret flask of Wild Turkey or Russell’s Reserve on hand (the Ten Year Bourbon is my favorite right now). If it’s cold enough (and it usually is), I won’t need the layers, and I can sip and stay warm all day.”

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey

Corey Wilson, Brewmaster at Crazy Uncle Mike’s in Boca Raton, Florida

“Old Overholt Rye Whiskey. It packs a punch and is budget priced. It’s a great rye that mixes well.”

Hendrick’s Gin

Aura Perrone, head bartender at UVA in Miami

“What’s my favorite spirit to bring to a tailgate? A Hendricks with a slice of cucumber.”

Elijah Craig Bourbon

Spencer Elliot, head bartender at Mondrian Terrace in New York City

“The best spirit for a tailgate is hands down an approachable bourbon. Pairs with any mixer. I’d go with an Elijah Craig or Larceny bourbon out of Bardstown, KY, depending on your budget. The mash bill of rye, barley, and corn make for a great highball or, if someone scores, and smooth celebratory shot.”

Michter’s Whiskey

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Hello Autumn.

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Michael Przybyl, beverage manager at Hilton Orlando

“Michter’s American whiskey is my favorite spirit of choice to bring to a game on a cool night. While Orlando doesn’t get too cold, a glass of American whiskey is the perfect warming companion for a game under the lights.”

Miami Club Rum

Jennifer Arroyo, Bartender at Aloft Miami Aventura in Miami

“Miami Club Rum is a must have in South Florida. The brand is ‘infused with music’ to ultimately create a smooth ultimately mixable flavor profile.”