July 15, 2024

The Only 5 Drinks You Need This Football Season

Football season is just as much about the game day experience and people you are around as it is about the game itself. For many people, that includes enjoying a nice adult beverage whether it be in the tailgating lots, at the bar, or on the couch. But with so many options, it can be hard to choose the perfect drink for the weekend, let alone the occasion.

As made popular on Reddit, one poster claimed you only ever need five bourbons at a time. And while that claim may or may not be true, we at the Tailgate Society wanted to put our own spin on it — what are the only five drinks you need to enjoy football this fall? We gathered feedback from some of our most experienced drinkers writers and came up with the criteria:

  1. Weekend Warrior: Your go-to drink in any setting on game day
  2. Can or Bottle: A must-have canned or bottled beverage
  3. Shot or Bomb: Your shot of choice for tailgating punishments, touchdown celebrations, or just to catch a buzz
  4. Mixed Drink: A favorite red solo cup concoction
  5. Wildcard: A drink you have on hand for a variety of reasons, whether it be a special occasion, punishment, superstition, or just for fun

With these five categories, you should never need another drink when perusing the tailgating lots or hosting your own at-home football party. Let us know which TGS member has the best five drinks and share your own list with us.

Weekend Warrior

Your go-to drink in any setting on game day

Old Forester: Whiskey is the perfect game day drink — a little goes a long way, which means less to carry around and less porta-potty visits in the tailgating lots. Old Forester is just a delicious, affordable, and versatile whiskey for any game day situation. – Alex Gookin

Corona Extra: Cheap, crisp, easy to drink. I sound like an ad but this is just a simple beer that gets the job done while you’re watching Iowa State barely scrape by in a win versus an FCS team in early September. Find your beach or whatever Snoop says. – Arnold Woods

Screwdriver: Game day settings come in a variety of forms (living so far away from Ames, it’s a lot of couch for me these days), but nothing travels better than vodka and orange juice. Good any time of day, but especially as College GameDay fades to black at 10:59:59. – Austin Narber

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: My most drank beer and it’s not even close. Game day, home, shower, doesn’t matter. HAS to be a can, though. – J.T. Nutt

Crown and Coke: Basic? Yes. But the perfect kind of basic — sippable, shareable, hideable, easy to find the mixer for when I’m carrying around a flask of whiskey in the lots, and lovely in a giant cup on the couch. – Tami Dooley

Black Velvet, lots of water, splash of seven: I can hear the booing from the crowd. Not only does this get you drunk, but also hydrates for tomorrow. And yes, this is an acquired taste. But honestly the Cyclones are gonna hurt us enough without the hangover tomorrow. – Ted Flint

Can or Bottle

A must-have canned or bottled beverage

Shiner Cheer: As I’ve gotten older, acid reflux has taken the joy out of drinking beer for me. But when Shiner Cheer hits shelves mid-fall, there’s nothing that tastes more like the holidays and football than a little Cheer. – Alex Gookin

Negra Modelo: My favorite beer. Keep your Busch Light camo cans or your Keystone Lights (aka, salt water mixed with cardboard). When you reach your mid-30s you want to enjoy what you’re drinking. This is the one. – Arnold Woods

Any canned stout: Football means it’s stout season. Hot out? Chill your glass and drink it immediately. Cold out? Let it warm up. Chocolate stouts. Vanilla stouts. Coffee stouts. Oatmeal stouts. The options! – Austin Narber

Bud Light Orange: I can do a can or two of Coors or Busch Light, but I like just a bit more flavor than a standard light beer and seltzer’s just aren’t my thing. So, Bud Light Orange it is. – J.T. Nutt

Corona: Tailgating = tacos. Tacos = Corona. The math is simple. – Tami Dooley

Naturdays: During any of the hot weather tailgates, these are a must. But once it starts getting colder let’s just do a Busch Light — yes, I am walking cliche. – Ted Flint

Shot or Bomb

Your shot of choice for tailgating punishments, touchdown celebrations, or just to catch a buzz

Peppermint schnapps: Easy, refreshing, and low enough proof that you can have a few without going off the deep end. My go-to touchdown celebration shot. – Alex Gookin

Vegas bomb: Full disclosure: I don’t do many shots or bombs anymore (because I’m washed) unless the occasion calls for it. I’m talking Iowa State-winning-the-Big 12-title-game levels. Nevertheless, a nice mix of Crown/peach liqueur/coconut rum/Red Bull would do the trick in the right set of circumstances. – Arnold Woods

Tequila: I spent the longest time on this one because there’s not actually a good answer (Arnold and I both go to Washed Boys Anonymous on Wednesday nights), so I’ll just say tequila. TikTok also taught me to do the cinnamon and orange slice thing, which is actually very good. – Austin Narber

Jameson: I’m Irish by heritage. I have to do this. – J.T. Nutt

Pendleton: I appreciate smoothness when taking shots, and I also appreciate a good warm bloom in the chest. Pendleton shots deliver both. – Tami Dooley

Apple Pie: Normally I would say Vegas bombs, but since that got taken I am going with homemade apple pie shots, straight from a Mason jar. – Ted Flint

Mixed Drink

A favorite red solo cup concoction

Vodka and Gatorade: Skip the solo cup — chug a quarter of your Gatorade bottle, refill to the top with whatever vodka you have on hand, and you’ve got a resealable (and thirst-quenching) drink. Any flavor works, and the illusion of hydration keeps the hangover away. – Alex Gookin

Crown Vanilla and root beer: If you’ve never tried it, do it now. Don’t care if you’re reading this at 7:00 a.m., just pretend you’re in college again. Thank me later. – Arnold Woods

Jim Beam and ginger ale. I acknowledge and accept the, “Say Billy, how ‘bout you go pour granddad his whiskey highball before the big game comes on” vibes with this pick, but it’s an old reliable for this 32 year old. – Austin Narber

Captain and Coke: I don’t drink a ton of mixed drinks but this is my go-to. None of that diet crap, regular leaded Coca-Cola. Nothing but Captain. It’s the best flavor for mixing. – J.T. Nutt

Vodka and hard seltzer: Not a Seltzer person? Only White Claws left in the cooler? That’s fine. Put it in a cup with some vodka and enjoy your life. – Tami Dooley

Crown Apple and water: Keeping with the hydration theme from earlier, any drink that has water will help you last longer through the day and save you tomorrow. – Ted Flint


A drink you have on hand for a variety of reasons, whether it be a special occasion, punishment, superstition, or just for fun

Smirnoff Ice: It wouldn’t be a football Saturday without my wife or me forcing an unwanted drink on an unsuspecting victim. Icing people is officially a hobby of mine. – Alex Gookin

Arnold’s Famous Lemonade: Ask our fearless leader Ted Flint how this one hits (spoiler alert: different). Mix some Minute Maid with a tiny bit of extra sugar, Sierra Mist, pineapple juice, and Tito’s vodka. 10/10, no skips. – Arnold Woods

Riot Juice™: I once brought this to an Iowa State-West Virginia tailgate. Equal parts Southern Comfort and Peppermint Schnapps. That’s it. Do you pour it into shot glasses? You do not, you big dumb idiot. Pull right from the bottle and pass it. I didn’t make it up, but I immortalized it on November 26, 2016. – Austin Narber

Crowler: I always like to bring the brewery home with me or to the game. Depends on my mood and the weather, but it will be something I find delicious like a pilsner or perhaps an IPA. – J.T. Nutt

Red Headed Sl*t: Cranberry juice, peach schnapps, and Jager. This works as a shot or mixed drink and is a nice little sugar bomb that almost nobody will turn down. – Tami Dooley

Strip-N-Go-Naked: In an empty gallon jug, pour in 3 cans of beer, add 12 oz. of lemonade concentrate, then fill the lemonade container with vodka and add to the mix. Add 3 more beers, ice, and mix gently. Then enjoy the time-traveling that comes later. – Ted Flint

Who at the Tailgate Society has the best game day drink lineup? 

Alex Gookin: Old Forester, Shiner Cheer, Peppermint schnapps shot, Vodka and Gatorade, Smirnoff Ice

J.T. Nutt: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Bud Light Orange, Jameson shot, Captain and Coke, Crowler

Arnold Woods: Corona, Negra Modelo, Vegas bomb, Crown Vanilla and root beer, Famous lemonade

Ted Flint: BV + water + 7UP, Naturdays, Apple pie shot, Crown Apple and water, Strip-N-Go-Naked

Austin Narber: Screwdriver, stout beer, tequila shot, Jim Beam + ginger ale, Riot Juice™ (SoCo + peppermint schnapps)

Tami Dooley: Crown and Coke, Corona, Pendleton shot, Vodka and hard seltzer, Red Headed Sl*t

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Alex Gookin
Alex Gookin 65 Articles
Staff Writer

Gookin is an Iowa State graduate with a degree in journalism, but decided writing professionally wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Instead, he took an unpaid position to write content for this blog, which seems counter-intuitive, but he enjoys it, nonetheless. Gookin was voted male with the “Most School Spirit,” and 2nd most flirtatious in his senior class. He enjoys statistics no one else has the patience to look up and enjoys Iowa State athletics more than he’s willing to admit. A closet Hawkeye fan (false), you can find Alex being harassed by at least one bad Twitter troll and winning nearly all of his online fights (less false, but false).

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