Food & Drink

The Best College Football Tailgate Drinking Traditions

Whether you’re a diehard college football fan with a painted face and a full hand of foam fingers, or someone who will never understand the rules of football no matter how many times you watch Remember the Titans, there’s one thing everyone has in common come football season: a love of tailgating, the most socially acceptable way to start drinking at 6 a.m.

While you can find team-colored Jungle Juice at most college pre-games, some schools have gone above and beyond with signature cocktails and sacred drinking rituals. Here, a few of our favorites.

Gallettes’ Yellowhammer

University of Alabama  

Alabama Crimson Tide fans begin and end the day with a bright yellow cocktail called the Yellowhammer. Local Tuscaloosa bar Gallettes has been serving up the iconic, fruity drink in collectible plastic cups for generations. Roll Tiders are pretty sure the drink is a mixture of vodka, rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and amaretto, but the exact recipe remains a mystery.

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Elk Creek Water

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Whether they’re celebrating a win or mourning a loss, you’ll find Nebraskans sipping Elk Creek Water directly from the pitcher at Sandy’s bar after a big game. The Screwdriver-esque cocktail is a mix of vodka, gin, orange juice, Sprite and either triple sec or sour mix (no one but Sandy knows for sure). Cornhuskers do their best to replicate Sandy’s recipe at tailgates with a mix called “Husker Punch,” but even they admit it doesn’t come close to the real deal.

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Razorbacks

University of Arkansas

The Razorback is a beloved cocktail down South, but it’s especially popular amongst the fans of its namesake team. Hit up a U of A tailgate and you’ll find fans serving up a dark red mixture of rum, vodka, amaretto and Kahlua, shouting “Woo pig sooie!” as they raise their red Solo cups high and get hyped for the game.  

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Golden Bears Drinking Song

University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s football team may not have a signature cocktail, but it does have a hilarious, long-winded drinking song, which fans frequently break out at tailgates. The song is extensive, but our favorite line has to be, “And when the game is over, we will buy a keg of booze, and drink to California ‘till we wobble in our shoes.”  

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The World’s Largest Cocktail Party

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Florida Gators

The University of Georgia and the University of Florida rivalry is intense. The teams have faced off on the field every year since 1915 (except for one war-time year in the 1940s). Over 100,000 fans come out to tailgate this annual game in Jacksonville, and the only way the clashing fanatics coexist is with lots and lots of booze. The nickname “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party” was coined by sports editor Bill Kastelz in the 1950s when he wrote about witnessing a drunken fan offer a drink to a police officer. The city has tried to shake the name, but if there’s one thing college football fans are known for, it’s holding tight to tradition.

Luau Tailgate

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. San Jose Spartans

Hawaii makes up for its somewhat lacking college football scene by throwing one heck of a party. When the University of Hawai’i plays San Jose State in California, over 1,000 fans from both teams come out for a tiki-themed celebration before the game, hosted by the Hawai’i Chamber of Commerce of Northern California. The event features Hawaiian music, food and drinks. A tailgate with Mai Tais? Where do we buy our facepaint?