Spicy apricot wings with wheat beer / © Marcus Nilsson
Forget the field, the real action during football season is in the parking lots where die-hard fans of barbecue and other pregame foods gather to eat and drink before the game. Many tailgate enthusiasts own tricked-out grills, portable smokers and outdoor living room setups with televisions that put most people’s home sets to shame—like these dedicated superfans. But when it comes to beverages, a cooler full of generic six-packs is sadly common. Tailgaters who pay as much attention to drinks as they do to chili warrant legend status.
For those wanting to take the next step toward tailgating greatness, we offer fantastic pitcher cocktails, like refreshing ginger shandies made with citrusy Hoegaarden and warming apple-brandy hot toddies for hard-alcohol drinkers, such as those at the beer-free Ole Miss tailgates. Plain beer shouldn't be discounted, as long as it's a terrific, flavorful brew like Saint Arnold's malty amber ale, which is superb with short-rib chili. Oenphilia and sports obsessions do go together as well. Excellent boxed and screw-capped wines are the ultimate pairings for some classic tailgate dishes like a jammy Shiraz with grilled pork ribs.
Check out the complete selection of tailgate-perfect pairings.