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How to tailgate in Seattle, even if you’re not going to the game

Photo courtesy of Hawk Alley Tailgate & Steve Mahler Photography

SPONSORED — Being home is only a figure of speech when it comes to football.

That’s because being at home is one way to watch the game and not necessarily the best way at that.

Seattle’s home-field advantage has been years in the making, and you don’t have to be in the stadium for a game-day experience that is uniquely Seattle.

We’ll start with the fortifications because like every football team, you need to have a plan going in. And here’s a bright, crisp Game Day Punch that is great because it can be made ahead of time and the proportions are so simple that it’s as easy to make a jug as it is a tumbler:

Game Day Punch

1 part cranberry juice

1 part orange juice

1 part grapefruit juice

1 part Heritage Distilling Batch No. 12 Vodka

Pour over ice and serve with a cherry

All right, now that’s settled, we’ve got a road map sketched out in which you start low and work your way up. In other words head south to Utah Avenue, which is about 10 blocks south of CenturyLink Stadium (or 1.5 miles if you prefer distance).

It’s better known as Hawk Alley and on game days this otherwise forgotten corner of a waterfront industrial zone becomes the signature pre-game function in the city. To say that Seattle isn’t known for its tailgating isn’t exactly true. We just tend to tailgate a little bit differently, which is a good thing.

Whether it’s the game-day recreational vehicles that draw you there or the sights and sounds of NFL games being played, it’s the best starting point.

When you get within about 90 minutes of game time, start the migration north toward the stadium. After the baseball stadium, you’ll hit Occidental Avenue, which is tucked right along the stadium and is the commercial hub for a Seattle game day whether you’re looking for team gear or trying to find meal in which case LT’s Mobile Barbecue comes highly recommended not just because of the smoked hamburger, but the game-day tunes.

Now that you’ve got your game-day flavor, it’s time to make sure you catch the game so continue your walk north into Pioneer Square and all of the different choices you’ll have.

Here are two selections, which rest at the opposite ends of the historical continuum. The J&M Café and Cardroom is one of the city’s oldest bars, and over the course of its history it has been a Gold Rush flophouse, an illegal brothel and a speakeasy. It’s also a great space with a long bar, an open kitchen and beautiful glasswork.

While Quality Athletics doesn’t have the longevity of the J&M, it does have some history. Seattle sports history that is. The cocktail list has a nod to sporting things Seattle, the game-day menu is loaded with modern comfort food and the flatscreens are plentiful.

And while watching at a bar isn’t going to replace the feeling of being in the stadium, there are benefits. Namely, sipping (and savoring) a cocktail isn’t just possible, it’s encouraged. So settle up to the rail and order a Manhattan made with Heritage Distilling’s Elk Rider Rye Whiskey!

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