Let us just say this. We do not think you can rank a tailgate beverage in the traditional sense of 1 through 10. But if you had to twist our arm, obviously bloody marys are last. And it is common knowledge that Miller Lite should be wiped off the face of this planet. But at the end of the day, what and how you choose to drink at a tailgate depends on a wide variety of factors. College vs NFL. Morning kick-off vs evening. Age demographic. Did you go out the night before. In each of these scenarios, your go-to-beverage is probably going to change. With that said, here is a list of game type atmospheres where we see what beverage reins supreme when tailgating.
1pm Sunday NFL Kick-Off (did not go out the before)
- Bud Light -
Standard. Reliable. Stereotypical. Kudos to BL for literally making every male (and shout out to my beer drinking females) 21-35 go into auto-pilot mode when walking into a liquor store or sticking their hand in cooler and grabbing one of those beautiful big blue cans. There is no thinking involved in this type of situation. Bud Light is the original security blanket. You know you need a drink. Something needs to be in your hand. And 99% of time it is a Bud Light. Like do you really think you are going to have a nice craft IPA with citrus notes @ 7% APV? The answer is no. It simply gets the job done and has the extreme upside of not tasting like metal (cough Coors Light cough cough). All that said, it makes BL the obvious choice for a 1pm kickoff.
1pm Sunday NFL Kick-Off (went out the night before)
- Mimosa -
This is one of the first scenarios where factoring in outside logic plays an import role in the drink of choice. So you go out for a fun Saturday night with your friends. Maybe they are in town for said Sunday tailgate. You head out and tell yourself you will have only one or two drinks. But next thing you know its 2am, many drinks deep, and trying to order Dominos on your phone. You wake up the next morning and the realization hits that putting alcohol back in your body is the last thing you want to do.
But alas - the power of OJ and Andre. The evil twin of Advil and pedialyte. You show up to the tailgate, grab that red solo cup, take two sips and next thing you know you are right back to neutral and ready to pounce on the first Italian sausage that gets off the grill.
12pm or 3pm College Football Kickoffs (no Friday activities)
- Natural Light -
12pm college football games are rough. There are no ways around that. Even more so when your living that central timezone life and those become 11am kick-offs. It is rough and completely unfair. But somehow, someway, you wake up as the sun is rising and you feel like you've been up for hours. You show up to your respective tailgate spot with your thirty rack...
and you get your day started. Now being just slightly a notch above canned water, natty light (or busch light if that floats your boat) is the perfect drink which is not only easy on the stomach but most importantly... keeps you at that sweet spot for pretty much the entire length of the afternoon. Of curse if you start doing shot guns and what not, then you may break the equilibrium. However, a beer here, with a hamburger there mixed in over there and you are sitting pretty.
12pm College Football Kickoff (went out the night before)
- Gatorade, Red Bull, Shot -
The holy trinity. Very similar use case of the "Sunday - going out the night before" scenario. But knowing the potential environment of the night before... you are probably able to handle the the above. Some may call it a heart attack but others may call it a liquid defibrillator. You wake up and are dying of thirst. You grab a glacier ice and it tastes like nirvana. But while you feel some life returning back to your body, you realize a little caffeine is a must to kick start the morning. With two of the three fluids down the hatch and now realizing you have a day of tailgating ahead, you have two options. You can take the mimosa approach from above, or there is the more immediate way of getting back to neutral. So here is where you find something "harmless"...
which probably consists of left over 12 dollar lime Burnetts and you ice that sucker up, plug your nose and close your eyes and bingo bango you are as good as new.
Any game where your parents attend (not big party people)
- Craft beer -
Goose Island. Sam Adams. Blue Moon. Not really craft beer but fancy beer. You get my drift. Literally, you cannot tell me you have been to a tailgate with a bunch of 45-60 year olds in September and there not be a Sammy Adams Otoberfest. Or if you are lucky enough to come across one of these guys...
...watch out. Sure the beers are heavier, but in this environment they seem to go down smooth and the only ones left at the bottom of the cooler are those toasted caramel lagers.
Any game where your parents attend (bigger party people than you)
- Anything -
You know who you are. And I am talking to both you mom and dad. These are the parents who let you have some friends over in high school and split a 6 pack. These are the parents who had one too many the night before your college graduation. No judgement here. Every once in a while you need these type of people. As long as they know how to handle themselves, these are usually the life of the party and the first people always invited back.
High class tailgate (older demographic)
- Wine & Scotch -
These are the best tailgates. Pure class all around. You are usually at a booster or alumni spot just steps away from the stadium on a gravel or paved lot. They have a few full body reds with a mix of white's and maybe a nice chilled rose. All of which are accompanied by a nice charcuterie platter. Then prior to heading into the stadium, the host breaks out a nice aged Scotch that makes you think you have a chimney full of smoke in your mouth. Nothing better.
Late Saturday Kickoff
- Whatever is left in the cooler -
At this point in time, the cooler has become a communal fleamarket of beverages. Whiteclaws, ciders, diet coke, one bush light, three random pale ales and a half drunk bottle of water. Beggars cannot be chooser and more thank likely, at the point of the tailgate you are at, any of those beverages will taste just fine.
Late Sunday Kickoff
- Water -
No real need for explanation here. You will thank yourself the following morning when walking into the office.