When you go to an NFL or NCAA football game, the play on the field is theoretically the most important aspect of your day. But we know the truth. It’s the pre-party where the fun is had — hanging with friends, gorging yourself on brats and burgers, and tipping back a few drinks. Even football mega-fans will tell you it’s the tailgating that makes going to a game better than watching it on TV.
But if you’re going big on game day, you have to make a few solid calls. What to eat, who to party with, and what to drink.
“Nobody wants to hang out with the belligerent guy who decided it was a good idea to slug Jack Daniel’s,” says David Bliszcz, bartender at The Franklin in New Orleans. In fact, his tailgate doesn’t include any brown alcohol at all. “Vodka is the best bet. Wasted on vodka is a less frequent, friendlier condition than wasted on gin, tequila, or whiskey.”
Of course, there are plenty who would disagree with that thesis. Which is why we asked 19 of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to tailgating bottles of booze. A few picked brown liquor, against Bliszcz advice — just assume they’re caveating it with “but you have to keep your sh*t together.”