States' Weird Drinking Habits: The Alabama Yellowhammer

When you think Alabama cocktail, you probably think Alabama Slammer. But the sweet, 1980s classic isn’t the only drink claimed by the Heart of Dixie. In Tuscaloosa on gameday, Crimson Tide fans come out by the thousands to slurp down a bumblebee yellow concoction served unpretentiously in tailgate-friendly plastic cups. Its name? The Yellowhammer.

The cocktail is synonymous with University of Alabama football and can only be found at one establishment: Gallettes. Not only does the bar not advertise its signature cocktail anywhere outside of the establishment, it doesn’t even advertise itself. It’s marked only by a sign reading “Campus Party Store.” But that doesn’t matter. There isn’t a self-respecting Tuscaloosan who doesn’t know his or her way to the local haunt and what to order there.

Gallettes serves close to 5,000 of the fruity, rum-based Yellowhammers (named after Alabama’s state bird) every home game. Bartenders dispense the brightly colored mix from large tubs into equally bright yellow collectable plastic cups.

The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret that’s been passed down between bar managers since the bar first opened in 1976. And the wildly differing attempts at cracking the code that have been published online are evidence that the flavors are pretty tricky to pin down. The most commonly accepted recipe cites two ounces of vodka, two ounces of rum, one ounce of amaretto, four ounces of orange juice, four ounces of pineapple juice and one ounce of water. But even fans who swear by this recipe in the off-season admit it’s missing something.

Until someone figures out exactly what that something is, we’ll have to accept the copy-cat version and do our best to replicate an authentic Gallettes experience by yelling “ROLL TIDE!” as we slam our cup down and demand another Yellowhammer.