Real talk: Football is only a small part of what makes game day so great. There’s the glitzy and glamorous half-time show, the parties filled with family and friends, the commercials, but most of all, there’s the salty, saucy and boozy refreshments.
Whether you’re making a batch of your famous hot wings or going all in with spicy jalapeño poppers, you’ll need something to wash it all down, and sometimes beer just doesn’t cut it. So to make sure you get the most out of your game day feast, here are five cocktails that will pair perfectly with everything on your spread.
Pairing: Hot Wings
If you’re counting down the minutes until you get to stuff your face with a couple dozen hot wings, make you’re washing down that saucy goodness with just the right cocktail. Made with gin or vodka, a Martini will cut through the fat and salt to cleanse your palate and prime your mind for insults to sling at the opposing team. Go ahead and throw a blue cheese-stuffed olive in for good measure, too.
Whether you’re going in for a simple plate of cheesy chips or a platter topped with meat, bean, cheese, sour cream, olives, salsa and guac, you need a cocktail that’s citrusy and smooth. Skip the usual Margarita and go for a Rum Punch instead. The balanced blend of lime juice, dark rum and bitters is just what a plate of nachos needs.
Pairing: Baked Potato Bar
If you’re setting up a baked potato bar with sour cream, bacon bits, scallions and chives, then you should also set up a Shandy bar. The tall, light and ridiculously refreshing beertail cuts through the richness of the dish and, thanks to its relatively low ABV, will keep you going strong all game long. Typically a light beer topped with lemonade or ginger ale, there are plenty of ways to dress up this easy drinker. We suggest spiking yours with moonshine and a hot pepper shrub, Italian amaro or ginger syrup to bring it up to loaded baked potato levels.
Match hearty chili with something equally dark and flavorful: a Black Velvet. Sweet, malty Guinness cut with airy Champagne, the spritzy cocktail might seem too fancy to pair with a humble bowl of stewy goodness, but rest assured, it’s not. The two complement each other so well, it might become a new game day tradition.
Pairing: Jalapeño Poppers
No game day is complete without a bite-sized jalapeño stuffed with gooey cheese. Whether you pack yours with cheddar or American, serve it alongside a Pimm’s Cup to ensure that your taste buds don’t get too scorched. This British refresher melds Pimm’s No. 1 with lemonade, cucumber and mint—a fresh, cooling combination that’s particularly handy for those with a low Scoville scale tolerance.