NFL-Inspired Game Day Drinks: Cheers to the Raiders, Bears, and 49er

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18th October 2023

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Watching sports often goes hand in hand with comfort foods and beverages, whether you’re grabbing a hot dog at a game or serving yourself while taking in the action at home. While beer seems to have cornered the market among sports fans, with the ads for brews like Bud Light or Stella Artois a dime a dozen when you’re watching a game on TV, that’s not to say that suds are the only option this NFL season.

Cocktails are always a fun option because of their unique character. With all due respect to the diverse world of beer, from IPAs to stouts, there’s a lot more that you can do with cocktails given the various liquors, garnishes, and other component parts that you mix together to make one. Here’s a list of some gameday classics if you’re looking for a cocktail to sip this season, as well as which NFL team it fits best given its characteristics.

Dark and Stormy - Las Vegas Raiders

You can’t go wrong with a classic, and this delicious combination of dark rum, ginger beer and lime is hard to top.

Often considered in the same breath as the beloved Moscow Mule because of the ginger beer base they share, it’s unclear which of the two came first.

That’s because the Dark and Stormy has a history as convoluted as that of the Margarita — which famously has dozens of bars, restaurants and bartenders claiming to have created the definitive first beverage. The Gosling Brothers rum company claims that the beverage was invented in Bermuda in the 1910s, which would date it as the Mule’s older sibling, but other reports tell the story in opposite fashion, with the Mule as the predecessor.

Traditionally served in a highball glass, a Dark and Stormy goes perfectly hand in hand with the high rollers of the sports betting world, making it an excellent choice if you are looking to wager on the games with some of the best sportsbooks. That its nautical theme fits in well with the budding sporting culture of Sin City, long famous for its relationship to the casino industry, is a pleasant surprise.

The inclusion of rum and the naval theme make this a perfect beverage for fans of the Raiders… or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for that matter, and you can imagine you are on the high seas as you take in the action with a Dark and Stormy in hand.

Hot Toddy - Chicago Bears

While this homestyle cocktail actually hails from British India, it’s often associated with the Emerald Isle when prepared using Irish Whiskey, making it a perfect companion for the city of Chicago’s proud Irish heritage, including the city’s world-famous St. Patrick’s Day parade each spring.

Pardon the interruption

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I’m a sucker for comfort, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with the hot toddy, prepared using hot water and a dash of whiskey, prepared to taste using add-ins like sugar, honey, and spice. The hot toddy can take many forms, and I typically like to use something like Jameson’s to prepare it, given the more neutral flavor profile, so that it meshes well with a tea bag or herbal infusion of choice… I wouldn’t go mixing Fireball with Earl Grey, for instance.

Often cited as a remedy for a cold, you don’t have to be feeling under the weather to treat yourself. As the days start to get shorter and temperatures begin to drop, a hot toddy is the perfect accessory to watching football while bundled up cozily in the living room: and doubly so if you live in a chilly region like the Upper Midwest or the Northeast.

Tequila Sunset - San Francisco 49ers

There are a number of reasons why I love visiting the West Coast: temperate climates, beautiful scenery and plenty of things to do and see. Sports fanatic that I am, though, one of my favorite things about being out west is that you get to see the games end at a much more reasonable hour.

With Sunday Night Football wrapping up around 8 p.m instead of 11, you won’t have to worry about staying up half the night watching the games and following the postgame reactions: you can still go to bed at a reasonable hour.

As such, this twist on the classic Tequila Sunrise, made by substituting blackberry brandy instead of grenadine in order to achieve the dusky colors of sunset, is the best way to say goodnight to a busy weekend with the games on in the background.

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Bartender's top tip

Incorporating fresh herbs like mint, basil, or rosemary can add a new dimension to your cocktails. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or even black pepper can also create intriguing and complex flavors. Muddle the herbs gently to release their oils without turning them bitter, or infuse them into simple syrups.

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