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Top food and drink pairings for the perfect tailgate

SPONSORED — A good tailgate is a delicate balance between food and drink. Think of food as the anchor, the foundation that keeps you from getting too carried away while the drinks are the perfect accelerant for game-day enthusiasm.

Here’s our playbook for achieving that balance with three classic pairings followed by a recipe for the only barbecue sauce that you’ll find that’s as sweet as Heritage Distilling Co.’s BSB, Brown Sugar Bourbon:

Gameday brunch

The noon kickoff has become a rarity in today’s college football world where television schedules and the accompanying national exposure have pushed everything later and later.

A 12:30 p.m. kickoff is like a gift. A chance to flex your morning menu options at the tailgate, which is both a challenge and an opportunity. Ever thought of breakfast sandwiches? They sound way trickier than they are.

Bring a muffin pan, one you won’t mind singing, blackening and otherwise befouling.

Apply a copious amount of non-stick cooking spray.

Crack an egg per muffin cup and top with onions, peppers or other veggies.

Place that muffin tin on top of the grill and cook eggs to desired firmness, removing once done with a spatula or if necessary a spoon. Do not remove by hand unless you want to clap with singed fingers.

Score extra presentation points by browning the bread on the grill

Add some cheese, ketchup if you desire or some salsa if you’re feeling exotic

Paired cocktail: The greyhound

2 ounces Batch No. 12 Vodka

5 ounces grapefruit juice

If you want to get fancy, add ½ ounce rosemary syrup with a sprig of rosemary for garnish

Paired cocktail: Autumn spice

1.5 ounces Elk Rider Vodka

Topped with sparkling cider and garnished with a cinnamon stick

Oysters and a martini

You know what the fall has lots of? Months that end in ‘R’ which are the months that oyster enthusiasts enjoy most. Get a couple dozen fresh, local oysters whether they’re Shugoku, Kumamoto, Olympia or better yet, ask the clerk for suggestions and bring a shucking knife or three.

A good, dry martini is the perfect pairing for the raw oysters, which is why it’s included here despite the fact that it violates the primary rule for a good tailgate cocktail because it requires a cocktail shaker. Anyone who has made cocktails at a tailgate knows that the use of the shaker exponentially increases the mess potential not to mention the likelihood for the shaker to be used without being washed. However, the raw oyster is so simple, so dignified we’re making an exception here.

Paired cocktail: Herbert Hoover’s good dry martini

2 oz. Elk Rider Crisp Gin

½ oz. Dry Vermouth

Lemon peel


You combine the gin and vermouth in a shaker with ice, pour through the strainer into a glass and garnish with the lemon peel and olives.

Wings and a prayer

Nothing beats wings when it comes to a tailgate. Not when you consider all the factors from taste to convenience to cooking time. They are quite simply the most efficient food for a tailgate made all the moreso because they don’t require silverware or condiments or assembly. Finding the right recipe takes time, though, and while beer is the classic accompaniment, whiskey and ginger can pack its own punch:

Spicy wings(From

3 pounds of chicken wings

½ cup Dijon mustard

2 tsp olive oil

¼ cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for the gluten-averse)

4 garlic cloves, smashed

1 teaspoon ginger grated

2 green onions, chopped and separated into white and green parts

Make marinade by combining mustard, olive oil, soy sauce (or liquid aminos), garlic and ginger along with white parts of the scallions.

Marinate: chicken wings for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Grill wings: Starting off at a higher temperature to sear the skin and then lowering temperature to cook through.

Garnish with green onions and serve

Paired cocktail: Whiskey ginger

1.5 oz Batch No. 12 Bourbon

Ginger Ale

Lime to garnish

The final recommendation isn’t so much a pairing as the perfect sauce as Heritage Distilling’s Brown Sugar Bourbon will sweeten any barbecue with this barbecue sauce:

Sweet as BSB BBQ

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1.5 cups ketchup

1 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp dry mustard

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup BSB Brown Sugar Bourbon

Saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil until tender before adding remaining ingredients and bringing to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes and it’s ready to serve, baste or be added to any tailgate dish.

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