~ Fall is tailgating season, and we welcome the change of season with drinks, friends, and sports. ~
What is it? If you aren't a sports fan, or just moved to the U.S., or choose to live with 20 cats and don't get out often the activity of tailgating might be foreign to you. Tailgating is a pre-game celebration and get-together outside a sporting event that encompasses food and drink alongside friends. Often recreational sports are part of the tailgating experience whether throwing a football around, or washer toss. Here's a list of popular tailgate sports. Maybe I should put sports in quotes. There are exceptions to the rule. The Santa Fe Opera House has a tradition of pre-event tailgating as featured on the Travel Channel.
"According to the American Tailgaters Association, the first occurrence of tailgating occurred in mid-summer of 1861—a full eight years before the first football game". The sport was fighting. Not boxing, or wrestling, but war. It's said that "civilians arrived at the battlefield in wagons loaded with wines, whiskeys, and food" in Virginia. There you have it, America.
Where does the drinking part come in? Food and drink really makes the tailgating experience what it is. It typically defines the teams that are playing by the local and regional spread brought to the game. I grew up in Kansas City, and moved back a decade ago after a stint on the East Coast. KC is often ranked as one of the best tailgate cities. Here BBQ and grilling meats is king, and surrounds the air in pre-game parties. The beverages vary, but beer is traditional, with cocktails gaining momentum. In some cities that might be odd, and that's the beauty of it, especially when you have a good division of groups from opposing teams that represent different regions. In parts of the South in SEC country you'll find caldo (stew) and turnip greens with shots of bourbon and various moonshines. Head north to the Canadian border and you'll find Northern Pike fish boils, fried cheese and local, craft stouts in their proper glassware. Concoctions even become inventions like Palmetto Cheese, a brand of pimento cheese, that got it's start at Atlanta Braves tailgate parties.
What to drink? If this is new to you, it's important to know you are rooting for, who you are around, and what your company likes. It's a lot like meeting the parents for the first time of someone you are seeing. Yes, it's that serious. Beer is the easy go-to, and even more accessible with more craft breweries switching to cans. We suggest a variety of local breweries represented in what you bring with various styles. Cocktails are more popular now, and quality libations at that. Finally! Bloody Marys with creative garnishes (bacon, peppers, pork rinds, etc.) complement early game times. We recommend pre-batching and bottling your cocktails. You can see one we did in our last Top 10 Tuesday post. Some people even go with bottles of wine. For the non-boozers coffee is a smart option with a specialty roaster in every corner now. Pick up a bag of beans, take a hand grinder, a kettle, filters, Clever or French Press and you are good to go.
From your attire to the location your drink was produced, in some stadium parking lots this will determine whether or not you will make friends or enemies. Good luck, eat and drink well, and take in the local fare. - Jason