There’s probably not a football fan in America who hasn’t gone to a tailgate.
If you are headed to a football game, what beats the tailgate beforehand? Between the food, the drinks and the camaraderie, they’re tough to top.
But as Bears fans, we Chicagoans know that those tailgates become a little tougher to enjoy when the wind is whipping in your face with a wind chill of 10 below while you’re huddled around the grill fighting for warmth trying to prevent your beer from freezing.
With plenty of Bears games left on the docket, but the good weather behind us, perhaps it’s time for fans to focus on the home tailgate. Just because you aren’t at the stadium, doesn’t mean the fun has to decrease!
There are three ingredients to a good home tailgate: friends, food and drinks.
First step, figure out who’s coming to your watch party. The best thing about home tailgates? The tailgating continues during the game! So rally your friends and tell them to be at your house at 10 a.m. for the noon kickoff. That’ll give them plenty of time to get settled and socialize before you settle in around the big screen television and the recliner sofa.
Second, you need to figure out the menu. If you are going to tailgate right, you can’t set out a few bags of chip and some random French onion dip you found on clearance because the expiration date is tomorrow. But you also need to know your audience.
Are your friends the steak tartar and caviar types? I’m guessing probably not if they are coming over to watch football and eat and drink on a Sunday morning. Make sure you have some good food that can sit out all day: meats and cheeses are always a good place to start, and some soft pretzel sticks with some beer cheese will certainly set the right mood.
Get some dips but get some good dips: Buffalo chicken dip, loaded baked potato dip, plenty of good options there. Chicken biscuits or anything with bacon certainly is an option that just about any football fan will endorse.
And finally for the menu, what’s the main course? Will you brave the elements and head out to your patio to fire up the grill or are you going to focus on indoor items? Your main course needs to be meat. Personally, I think red meat needs to be an option at all tailgates. Sliders are an elite option. Skirt steak is another outstanding option. And of course, a nice assortment of sausages, peppers and onions will be a welcome addition to the spread.
Once you have your menu set, it’s time to secure the alcohol. Sure, have some water and some soda options available, but beer is an essential. A nice assortment of large brand beers and some good microbrews will keep the whole crowd pleased with their options.
Finally, the essential drink item at any tailgate is the Bloody Mary. You can simply go out and get a basic Bloody Mary mix, but elite Bloody Mary’s should be mixed at home and not from a bottle. It’s always a good option to let each individual put their desired amount of hot sauce in their drink.
For the perfect Bloody Mary, you need to make sure you have the right vodka to go in it. Maybe you want a traditional vodka, maybe you like one of the newer cucumber or lime-infused vodkas (or both!), perhaps you want a variety, but either way the proper selection on the vodka can make or break your Bloody Mary.
You’ve got your friends, you’ve got your food, and now, you’ve got the drinks. You are set to have the perfect home tailgate and viewing party perfect for any given Sunday!