As we inch closer to another football season, it’s time to learn how to make tailgating cocktails. Sadly, we must deal with the bleak prospect that some local football may not happen as planned this year. Still, it’s important to keep the football spirit alive no matter what league you’re watching.
Traditionally, of course, the tailgating drink of choice is none other than inexpensive beer. However, this being the season of change, we’ve decided to roll with the punches and provide you with a list of alternative cocktails that truly honor area teams. Try these cocktails for your next tailgate experience:
Built to honor none other than the Purdue Boilermakers up in West Lafayette, this relatively simple drink is perfect for a tailgate party. All you’ll need are two ingredients any self-respecting tailgater should have readily on hand:
- 1 lager beer, poured into a mug
- 1 ½ oz bourbon (preferably Wild Turkey) poured into a shot glass
Then, simply drop your shot of bourbon into your beer and race to the finish!
While this drink was designed to incorporate Indiana heritage and regional ingredients, IU fans can appreciate the name as well as the unique autumn flavor. You’ll need:
- 1 ½ oz Knob Creek bourbon
- ½ oz maple syrup
- ½ oz lemon juice
- 1 oz apple cider
- 1 sprig of rosemary
Pour syrup into a cocktail shaker and muddle with rosemary. Add ice and remaining ingredients, shake well, and strain over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a slice of apple.
Return to Glory
Developed to depict the heritage of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and their return to a storied football program, the Return to Glory is as tasty as it is descriptive. Gather these ingredients:
- 2 oz Irish whiskey
- 2 oz ginger ale
- ½ oz Peach Schnapps
- Splash of orange juice
Pour ingredients over ice in a tall glass. If desired, garnish with an orange slice and toast to the Fighting Irish’s return to glory.
Aside from smaller, more regional programs, the NFL may be the area’s one remaining hope of a full-scale football schedule this year. As a result, we’ve included this recipe crafted specifically for Indianapolis Colts fans – signature blue color and appropriately named tequila (Herradura means “horseshoe in Spanish) aside. We adore this play on a margarita. You’ll need:
- 1 ½ oz Herradura Blanco (or other white tequila)
- 2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 oz agave nectar
- ½ oz blue curaçao
Pour all ingredients over ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini or cocktail glass.
If your team isn’t well-represented in Indy (or if football is delayed once again), there’s no reason to fret. This Tailgate Tea is a crowd-pleaser we’d be happy to sip anytime, football or no. Gather these ingredients:
- 1½ parts Svedka Strawberry Lemonade
- 1 part tea
- ½ part simple syrup
- ½ part fresh lemon juice
- Splash of Corona Extra
Pour the first four ingredients into a tall glass filled with ice. Top off with a splash of Corona Extra, stir, and enjoy.
No matter what happens with this year’s football season, Payless Liquors is here for you. Stop in to see how our wide selection of beers, wines, and spirits can help you stock any social distancing tailgate party. Alternatively, call ahead or place an online order for pickup any night of the week.
Bourbon. It’s potentially the one alcohol America can truly claim as its very own. At the very least, it is considered by many to be the quintessential American whiskey. It’s true that this sippable, caramelly, oaky, spirit is unique from other whiskeys. However, many Americans don’t know what makes a bourbon a true bourbon.
We’re here to clear that up, once and for all.
Bourbon Is Not Synonymous With Whiskey
You may have heard the saying before – all bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons. So, what does the phrase actually mean? Whiskey is a spirit that is distilled in many regions of the world. The most notable are from Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. They are from the fermented mash of different types of grains.
Styles of whiskey vary throughout the world, especially in which types of grains are used in the process. For example, Scotch whisky is mostly crafted from fermented barley, while Canadian whiskey is often made from a blend of grains. As a whiskey, American bourbon is also made from fermented grains, but the recipe – and process – is unique to its production and required by law.
- American production. To be labeled a bourbon, a whiskey must be produced within the US. However, other whiskeys can be produced anywhere.
- 51% corn mash. While most other whiskeys can use any combination of fermented grains, bourbons must consist of at least 51% corn mash.
- New, charred-oak barrels. All whiskeys are aged in oak barrels, but a bourbon is aged in a never-before-used, charred barrel to help lend the signature flavor.
- Distillation limits. It must be placed in barrels at no more than 125 proof and distilled to no more than 160 proof.
- No additives. While you might find a whiskey with added caramel and vanilla notes, true bourbons cannot have any flavor or coloring additives.
Other Fine Print
Aside from the name on the label of your favorite bourbon, you might notice a few other terms, including:
- Straight is aged for at least two years. It’s likely longer than four if you don’t see an age specified on the bottle.
- Aged left to sit for longer periods in charred barrels take on a bit darker color and more of the flavor imparted by the oak and char – namely vanilla and caramel notes.
- Single barrel is a batch that is sourced from only one of a brand’s many barrels – as opposed to most bourbons, which are blends of multiple barrels to produce a uniform flavor across the entire line.
- Small batch might be straight bourbon or may simply be a smaller batch than usual, blended from multiple barrels.
For more information about bourbon or any other spirit, ask the knowledgeable staff about the wide selection of bourbons at your nearest Payless Liquor location. Take a moment to pick out key phrases from the label to know what toexpect. Together, you can take a moment to find your newest find.
As the end of summer looms ever closer, you may be quickly tiring of the sparkling wines you found appealing earlier in the summer. If that prosecco or moscato d’asti just isn’t doing it for you as the weather cools, we have an alternative. With their light body but slightly more substantial taste, sparkling reds are a great choice for late summer.
The Old Sparkling Reds
Sparkling red wine in and of itself is far from a new idea. Sparkling reds were big a few decades ago – mostly in the late 70s and 80s. Varieties such as lambrusco and sparkling shiraz found their place in many American wine glasses; however, they eventually suffered a terrible reputation. Viewed by wine critics as fruity, sticky-sweet, and a dime a dozen, the once-beloved sparkling red slowly fell out of favor in America. It was replaced by a variety of other imports and locally produced reds. Meanwhile, multiple varieties of sparkling reds continued to undergo their natural evolution in the areas of the world that had been producing them for centuries. The unfortunate result? Nearly an entire wine-drinking generation lost their taste for sparkling reds – even the high-quality varieties produced in Europe – entirely.
The New Sparkling Reds
Today’s modern sparkling reds have an opportunity to win back the favors of the American wine drinker. Significantly less syrupy, effervescent instead of cloyingly carbonated, and available in a much broader range from dry to sweet. Sparkling reds are better than ever. If you’re looking for an ideal, late summer wine, start with one of these varieties:
Late Summer Wines
● Lambrusco. Lambrusco was once the epitome of the sweet, syrupy sparkling red in America. It has a long and storied history in Italy. Made entirely of any one of four varieties of lambrusco grapes produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The modern Lambrusco has managed to keep many of its original qualities, while also undergoing a transformation of sorts. The result is a wide range of Lambruscos, from the sweet fizzy reds perfect for an after-dinner drink to the dry, secco Lambruscos that pair well with most appetizers.
● Sparkling Shiraz. Shiraz is the signature grape of Australia and results in wines of all colors and flavor profiles. Sparkling reds crafted from the shiraz have always been a tradition in the country, but the style is undergoing a renaissance similar to Lambrusco. More and more sparkling shiraz’s are being aged in oak barrels or produced in ways that give them a bit more body than other sparkling wines – a perfect complement to their black fruit-forward flavor.
● Red Moscato. If you enjoyed the sweet sparkling reds of the 70s and 80s, there’s no need to fret- many quality wines continue to be produced that capture that essence with a nod to a finer flavor profile. One example is the Red Moscato produced by Risata, maker of America’s most popular Moscato D’Asti. Similarly light and sweet, but with a good deal more depth of flavor, Red Moscato is perfect to sip with food or as an aperitif.
If you’re on the hunt for a more satisfying late summer wine, these sparkling reds could be just the ticket. Stop by your local Payless Liquors to see what’s in stock, or reserve a bottle of one of these new favorites for pickup. Start your late summer tradition with Payless Liquors.
Ever heard of a Skunky Beer? Imagine it’s a hot day in late August. You’ve spent the entirety of the day wrestling the backyard into submission. You’re sweaty, a bit overheated, and all you want is a nice, cold beer. So, you open the fridge and savor the wave of cold air that hits you before reaching for your favorite bottle of domestic. You pop the top and tilt the bottle. But instead of the refreshing taste you’re expecting, you get the offensive flavor of musty, wet animal.
What happened? What scenario possibly could have unfolded to turn your favorite beer into a malodorous bottle of sludge? Let’s find out.
Why Skunked Is an Apt Term
Since you were old enough to buy a case of beer and toss it in the trunk of your car to transport home on a hot day, you’ve likely heard the warnings – never let beer get warm and then cool it again, lest it become ‘skunked.’ While the advice was flawed in one respect (allowing beer to cool, warm, then cool again isn’t what causes skunking), the use of the term ‘skunked’ is pretty accurate. Skunked beer tastes the way it does because chemical reactions inside the bottle have created a compound called 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (MBT) – a compound nearly identical to the one skunks spray in self-defense.
Humans can taste this compound in ridiculously small doses; just a bit of MBT is enough to completely ruin a beer. So, how does it appear in your beer bottle? More importantly, how can you prevent it?
What Causes Skunky Beers
Contrary to popular belief, beer does not become skunked after exposure to heating and cooling – unless you’re regularly boiling and nearly freezing your beer. (It does, however, increase the speed at which your beer oxidizes, leading to a slightly less offending wet cardboard flavor.) Instead, the main culprit behind skunking is the UV rays of the sun.
Over time and in large enough quantities, the blue spectrum of UV light interacts with the hop compounds (isohumulones) in your beer, breaking them down and lending an electron to an amino acid. The result is the dreaded MBT compound that gives your beer that skunked flavor.
How Can You Avoid Skunky Beer?
The first step in skunky beer prevention occurs at the brewery – brewers choose packaging that helps to block out UV light and avoid skunking altogether. Kegs and cans are completely opaque and are the best way to prevent skunking, and brown bottles come in a close second – there’s a reason most craft beers are packaged in these two containers. Green and clear bottles let in the most UV light, and the beer contained within is thus the most susceptible to producing MBT.
Skunking can happen at any time– usually during the warehousing or in-store portions of your beer’s trip to your fridge. That means there isn’t a lot you need to do to prevent skunking except purchase beers that come in cans or brown bottles. If your favorites are packaged in clear or green bottles, just do your best to keep your beer out of the sun.
You can trust Payless Liquors for all your cold, fresh beer needs. Our beer stock is regularly rotated to prevent unnecessary exposure to the UV light that can cause skunking. We also have a large selection of brands and styles to please any palate. Stop in or complete an online order form for pickup today.
It’s summertime, which usually means beach cocktails, long weekends at the lake, and even excursions to tropical destinations abroad. Unfortunately, summer travel plans—including tropical fun—seem to be on hold this summer with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many Americans are choosing to partake in simpler, at-home vacations instead of heading to the surf and sand and dealing with the travel restrictions and quarantines that are sometimes required upon return.
No Beach Vacation Doesn’t Have to Mean No Tropical Drinks
One of the aspects of a beach getaway many of us will miss the most are the exotic, tropical drinks so often found at vacation destinations. Fortunately, they’re also one of the easiest parts of your vacation to recreate right here at home. Check out our list of beach cocktails from some of the most popular tropical destinations and corresponding recipes you can enjoy in your backyard.
This classic Tiki beach drink from one of the only domestic tropical locations is a must-have for any backyard luau. You’ll need:
- 1 1⁄2 ounces vodka of your choice
- 3⁄4 ounce blue Curaçao
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
- 1⁄2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1⁄2 ounce simple syrup
- Splash of half-and-half
- Pineapple for garnish
Combine all ingredients except pineapple into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice—strain into a tall glass of crushed ice and top with pineapple.
As you’d expect, this tropical drink hails from the Bahamas. This fruity drink is best blended, but some swear by serving it over crushed ice instead. Round up these ingredients:
- 1/2 ounce coconut rum
- 1 ounce pineapple juice
- 1/2 ounce cherry grenadine
- 1/2 ounce white rum
- 1 ounce orange juice
Pour all ingredients into a blender, along with 1 cup crushed ice. Blend until smooth, and serve in a tall glass.
Originating in Cuba and the Florida Keys, depending on which type of lime you prefer, this citrusy, minty drink is a refreshing twist on tropical. Gather up these essentials:
- 1 1/2 ounces white rum
- 1/2 ounce fresh key lime or traditional lime juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 1/2 ounces club soda
- 8 mint leaves
Muddle mint leaves in a shaker, then add 2/3 cup of ice. Shake vigorously before adding club soda and pouring into a tall glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.
This classic Mexican drink is a great sipper inside in the AC or the backyard by the pool. You’ll need:
- Mexican lager beer, like Modelo or Tecate
- Clamato juice
- 3 splashes hot sauce, preferably Tapatio
- 2 splashes Worcestershire sauce
- Juice of one lime
- Tajín seasoning
Rub a lime around the edge of the glass and press Tajín seasoning onto the rim. Fill the glass 1/3 full with Clamato, add the hot sauce, Worcestershire, lime juice, and fill the rest with cold lager. Season with Tajín and salt as desired.
Get Your Tropic On at Payless Liquors
While there are a host of other popular tropical drinks out there—from the Sex on the Beach and the Mai Tai to the Pina Colada—we think the four listed above are a great representation of the different styles you’ll find on beaches around the world. For all the best spirits, mixers, and even a recipe suggestion or two, stop into your nearest Payless Liquors location today.
Think you know your sparkling wines? If you’re a fan of celebrations and all that goes with them, you’ve likely been exposed to the glorious sparkling cocktail concoctions often served alongside. From the familiar mimosa and the rare and delicious Bellini’s at brunch to the joyous Champagne toasts at weddings—and even the odd refreshing glass of Moscato after dinner—sparkling wines are present at some of the world’s most pleasant occasions. However, whether they’re flying solo or mixed into a tasty cocktail, all sparkling wines are not created equally.
Not All Sparkling Wines Are Champagnes
While many people refer to all sparkling wines as Champagne, a true Champagne can only be produced in the Champagne region of France. While some sparkling wines produced outside the European Union bear the name of Champagne, they’re not subject to the same production standards or regulations as European sparkling wines. Here’s a brief guide to the different types of sparkling wines:
As mentioned, sparkling wines using Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes and produced in the Champagne region of France can legally bear the name of Champagne. Champagnes range from dry (Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, and dry) to sweet (demi-sec and doux) and often have notes of almond, orange, and cherry. Typically, they are around 12% ABV and have very fine, persistent bubbles due to the second fermentation they undergo in the bottle.
Crémants can adhere to the same production methods as Champagnes. However, they are produced from a wider variety of grapes, including Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and others. Most are produced in Alsace, Burgundy, and the Loire Valley, but share many of the same properties as Champagnes.
Proseccos are produced mostly in Veneto, Italy, primarily with Prosecco grapes. Prosecco is fermented a second time in a tank instead of in the bottle. This results in lighter bubbles that don’t last as long. Most Proseccos are sweeter than Champagne and can have tropical fruit, banana, vanilla, or hazelnut aromas.
Cava is the Spanish version of sparkling wine. It is produced almost exclusively in Catalonia. Most Cavas use Spanish grapes like Parellada and Macabeo, but some may add French grapes to the final mixture. Cavas have a distinctive sour taste, but can also have a toasty profile as well; Cava producers use the traditional method of secondary fermentation in the bottle. So, its bubbles are similar to those of Champagne.
Sometimes referred to simply as Moscato, this sparkling wine is produced from Muscat grapes. They have been cultivated since ancient Greek and Roman times for premium sweetness. As a result, Moscato is much sweeter than the other types of sparkling wines. It has a lower alcohol content as well. The best Moscato d’Asti grapes are picked at peak ripeness. It results in sparkling wines that have notes of orange, peach, apricot, and rose.
Find the Ideal Sparkling Wine for Your Occasion
Whether you’re hosting a wedding, a mimosa brunch, or simply want a refreshing bottle of sparkling wine after dinner, it’s essential to choose the right bottle for your tastes. The experts at Payless Liquors can help you find a dry, sweet, or moderate sparkling wine of any variety in our extensive wine selection. Stop in or call ahead to find a new favorite today.
Stocking your home bar with all the essential tools, glassware, mixers, and—of course—spirits will give you the ability to mix classic cocktails and invent new ones without rushing out to purchase missing ingredients each time the urge strikes. This checklist can help ensure you have all the items to make all the most essential drinks:
Liquors. To make most classic cocktails, you’ll need a solid stock of basic liquors, including:
- Vodka—used in more mixed drinks than any other spirit, vodka is necessary. Choose one affordable and one high-end vodka for your home bar.
- Whiskey—as there are numerous types of whiskey, go with your preference. Choosing one great, sippable bourbon and one blended rye allows you the ability to serve whiskey on the rocks or in a cocktail.
- Rum—white rum is most commonly used in mixed drinks, so choose one quality white and one darker or spiced rum to round out your home bar.
- Tequila—most margaritas are made with tequila blanco, so choosing an inexpensive version for blended drinks and a top-shelf version for sipping is a good strategy.
- Gin—although gin is a divisive spirit that seems to be either loved or hated, you should choose a quality gin to have on hand behind your home bar.
- Liqueurs—these flavored liquors should be stocked according to your taste. However, starting with triple sec, Amaretto, and vermouth will allow you to make most classic cocktails.
Mixers. Unless you’re serving your liquors straight up, you’ll need essential mixers to make your cocktails, including:
- Juices—keep lemon, lime, tomato, orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice on hand.
- Sodas—be sure to have a cola, a lemon-lime soda, and a club soda behind your bar.
- Blended mixers—store-bought mixers like sweet and sour, grenadine, and even bloody Mary mix are helpful (you can make simple syrup yourself).
- Bitters—one bottle of Angostura bitters should work for most cocktails.
Glassware. While there are seemingly endless types of bar and beer glasses, you’ll need just a basic few to get started. Then, increase your bar glass selection as your mixology skills improve. Start with:
- Beer glasses—the pint glass is the most versatile, however they can be used for mixed drinks, too
- Rocks glasses—these short glasses are a staple for any drink served straight up or on the rocks.
- Wine glasses—stock both red and white wine glasses, or purchase a medium-sized glass suitable for either.
- Martini glasses—mixed drinks like Manhattans, martinis, and even the odd margarita can be served from a martini glass.
Bar tools. To make most mixed drinks, you’ll need a cocktail shaker, a durable mixing glass, a jigger to measure liquor, and a bar spoon to stir your mixed drinks. Also, most home bars include a beer opener, a corkscrew, and a cutting board and citrus knife or zester for garnishes.
Don’t worry if you aren’t able to check off all the items on this list right away. Simply begin with a bar stocked with your preferred liquors, and add spirits as you go. For more information about spirit selection, mixers, or equipment, inquire at your friendly neighborhood Payless Liquors.