Matt Moore, Southern Eats & Drinks Expert
If you ever visit The Grove in Oxford, Mississippi on a fall football Saturday, you’ll see antique chandeliers hanging from the limbs of the historic white oak trees. Such a feat requires preparation because down South, we take our tailgates seriously!
During my days at The University of Georgia, a true gent would be shamed for not donning a proper sportscoat, a crisp white shirt with a red and black tie, and a pair of khakis to properly pair with his date in either a red or black dress to the game. Northerners would often gasp (usually in their jeans and t-shirts) questioning why we went to such lengths to dress to the nines, especially when the outside temps in early fall can still reach triple digits. The answer is simple: because it is our tradition.
We Southerners are rooted in our traditions, from our drawls to our fried chicken to our attire and even our Southern spirit of choice, Dixie Vodka. And certainly, there is no tradition we love more than a college football tailgate.
While chandeliers might be a lofty idea for most, a proper tailgate should have some basic essentials—starting with a tailgate. Yes, a truck or two serves double duty to not only haul the load, but also provide a comfortable place to sit and take in the atmosphere. Tables should be on-site (preferably decked out with a spirited table cloth and team décor) to showcase your spread, along with some chairs for lounging and games to play. A blanket sporting your schools favorite colors is also a nice touch when the cooler months roll around.
Music, “old country music,” if you’re asking, should also serve as the tonal soundtrack to the afternoon. You’ll probably find kebabs, brats, or burgers on the grill, but it’s not entirely necessary. Deviled eggs, pimento cheese, pickled okra, and other cold Southern favorites can work just as well to create a base for one of the most important elements.
No tailgate should skip out on the drinks—those with plenty of Dixie Vodka, preferably. As you hear cries of Hotty Totty around The Grove or War Eagle at Auburn, I like to serve up a Fine-and-Dandy cocktail, especially when I’m sporting my best attire with a belly full of tailgate treats.
So remember, good Southerners take their tailgates seriously—dress up, bring your A game, and invite your friends. But don’t take the fun out of it by taking it too seriously. A cocktail or two (if you need it) certainly helps!
- 2 oz. Dixie Citrus Vodka
- Juice from 1/4 lemon
- 2 strawberries
- 4 basil leaves
- Soda water
Muddle strawberries in tumbler, add Dixie Citrus Vodka and lemon juice. Tear basil leaves, add to tumbler with ice, and shake. Pour into mason jar, and top with soda. Cheers, y’all!