A few years ago, as the Philadelphia Eagles prepared to challenge the New Orleans Saints, I witnessed a hot tub that had been retrofitted with wheels and a trailer hitch parked in the stadium lot. You see, in Philadelphia, my hometown, tailgating is raised to high art, taken every bit as seriously as cheesesteaks and Rocky. The guys in the hot tub—bravely shirtless in the sub-freezing temperature—were keeping warm with some sort of whisky cocktail.
Smart fans. Whisky, after all, is perfect for tailgating: It’s easy to pack, makes you feel warm, can be mixed into tasty drinks, both hot and cold, and pairs well with the big flavors of the important pre-game meal. Plus, no other tipple gets fans into the game-day spirit quite like it.
“The NFL has the best fans of any sport in the world,” says John DeFilippo, former quarterback coach for the Philadelphia Eagles who now serves as offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. “The passion fans have for their city, team, and players is second to none. Tailgating in the right way totally adds to the mood of the stadium.”
What is the right way? “Obviously, someone in your group needs to take the reins and be the designated driver,” says DeFilippo. “Everyone just wants to go to the game and have a great time,” he says. And the recipe for a great time includes lots of food, a favorite whisky, and the right attitude. “The fun about tailgating is the camaraderie you have for your team, and that naturally brings people together,” DeFilippo says. “All of a sudden you have a lot of like-minded people around your tailgate and you want to be a great host.” So forget the hot dogs. With perfectly-prepped gourmet food, eye-catching gear, and the right whisky cocktails, your little piece of the parking lot will be the place to be—hot tub optional.
What to Eat
This slow-cooker dish is easy to prep in advance, and rewarding to enjoy on game day.
This simple restaurant-quality recipe will raise your tailgate game.
Sweet, spiced, and packing a slight punch, this sauce is perfect for grilled meats and more.
Add a little green to your meal with this make-ahead recipe.
What to Drink
A rye-based variation on the classic, it also includes Grand Marnier and Luxardo cherry juice.
Combine bourbon, sherry, and spiced herbal liqueurs to create an undefeatable drink.
Warm up at a chilly tailgate with this bourbon-based hot toddy.
And don’t forget the gear
Make sure you have all the essentials for the perfect parking lot party.