That statement rings true no matter where your team allegiance lies. At various moment these last few months, it was not certain we would see Football this fall and Winter. Alas, it is here and God willing it will bring us all a little taste of normalcy and a whole lot of fun!

Whether you love watching football or not, gathering with family and friends around a little gridiron action is always a great time. This year, more than ever, we need a little fellowship to toast the many blessings we still have. And Football counts! So, bring on the tailgates and the gameday festivities…even from your living room.

As much as I love a fresh crafted cocktail, I enjoy low stress gamedays even more. The surest way to accomplish that is by keeping things simple. From the food to the drinks, make it easy on yourself. That is why I stick to cocktails that can be batched in larger quantities, refrigerated, and ready-to-serve. Guests can even help themselves!

Below are a few crowd pleasers that provide options for everyone. Whether you are a bourbon drinker or prefer something lighter, these will have you covered!

The Cocktails:

Pimm’s Cup

The Brits may not play American Football, but they have created one of the best day-drinking sippers in the universe with the Pimm’s Cup. Gameday is a marathon, not a sprint, and the Pimm’s Cup is lower in alcohol and light. That makes it perfect for early gatherings. Change up the garnishes during the seasons. In the Fall, pears, apples, and oranges make an appearance. In the Spring, fresh berries and cucumber brighten things up. Keep this one in your year-round entertaining repertoire.

Ingredients:

20oz Pimm’s No.1 Cup

22oz prepared lemonade (Simply Lemonade is a good choice)

22oz ginger ale

1 orange – sliced (reserve half for garnish)

1 pear – sliced (reserve half for garnish)

1 apple – sliced (reserve half for garnish)

Directions:

Pour the Pimm’s No. 1, lemonade, and ginger ale in a two-quart serving pitcher (preferably glass so you can see the fruit). Stir to combine, add half the fruit garnishes, and refrigerate the mixture. Be sure to assemble hours in advance so the fruit has time to marry with the beverage. Even overnight works great. In a highball glass, pour over ice, garnish with orange slice, pear slice, and apple slice. Prefer a different fruit garnish? Use whatever you have on hand!

Bourbon Orange Tea

The South loves football and sweet tea………and bourbon too! Gameday and this cocktail are a match made in heaven, and the zip of orange makes the drink livelier.

Ingredients:

8 ounces bourbon

32 ounces fresh brewed tea (use your favorite)

6 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice

6 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ratio)

8 dashes Orange Bitters (Angostura cocktail bitters works also)

Orange Slices for garnish

Directions:

Pour bourbon, tea, orange juice, simple syrup, and bitters in a two-quart serving pitcher. Stir well to combine, and taste for desired sweetness. Feel free to add more simple syrup if you prefer a sweeter end-result. Once adjusted for sweetness, place container in the refrigerator and chill a few hours ahead of time. To serve, simply pour in an old-fashioned rocks glass over plenty of ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Dark ‘n’ Stormy

Consider this drink a forecast for your team’s opposition on gameday. DnS’s are so easy and delicious – a rum variation of the Moscow Mule if you will. Though not pre-batched, with just 3 ingredients it is a 20-second assembly for guests.

Ingredients:

2 ounces Cruzan Dark Rum (Gosling’s is great too)

4 ounces Gosling’s Ginger Beer

1 lime wedge

Directions:

Feel free to set up a drink station with the rum, ginger beer, and a bar jigger. In a rocks or highball glass, pour rum and ginger beer over plenty of ice, squeeze a lime wedge and you are done!

The Beer Crowd

Some guests just prefer beer and bless them for it – it is even easier on the host. Offer a lighter and a medium bodied option and you will cover all your bases. Some favorites include:

• Little Harpeth Chicken Scratch Pilsner

• Wiseacre Tiny Bomb Pilsner

• Bearded Iris Homestyle IPA

• Jackalope Bearwalker

Have fun tailgating and watching football this fall and winter!

Jason Pyle is a Franklin resident and President of Latitude 36, Inc. (www.lat36.com), an Information Technology Staffing and Consulting firm headquartered in the area. For nearly 10 years Jason ran a blog called Sour Mash Manifesto (www.sourmashmanifesto.com).

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