It’s almost time for football season once again, and nothing goes with America’s favorite sport than booze. If you’ll be doing some tailgating this season, we recommend bringing along a flask. But what should you fill your flask with? It’s not the place for top-shelf or weird and esoteric spirits: You want something inexpensive, that pairs well with burgers and wings, and that’s tasty alongside cheap beer or surreptitiously poured into a cup of soda once you get inside the stadium. Here are some of our favorites. By Jason Horn
Buffalo Trace Bourbon $24.99
Thanks to a portion of rye in the mashbill (bourbon must be made from at least 51 percent corn, with the rest made up of barley and either wheat or rye), this whiskey has some nice spicy character along with caramel and vanilla sweetness. Those cinnamon and pepper notes make Buffalo Trace tasty with Coke or any kind of spicy food, and also provide some nice contrast when alternating with sips of generic domestic lager.
Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, $21.99
The fast-growing Irish whiskey category goes way beyond Jameson and Bushmills. Dip a toe into the wider world of booze from Éire by giving this value-priced spirit a try. It’s smooth and sweet enough to convince whiskey-haters, but it also offers some fruity depth, with hints of raspberry, banana and apple. Try it with a charred cheeseburger straight off the Weber.
Milagro Silver Tequila, $29.99
Age isn’t always better: When it comes to tequila, a clear blanco bottling is the best choice for flask fillage, over a barrel-rested (and more expensive) reposado or añejo. Milagro’s offering has that unmistakable agave essence but is surprisingly smooth, without the unpleasant burn of a really cheap tequila. Pair a shot with a Corona, or pour into a glass of orange soda for a sort of poor-man’s Margarita. (No really, it kinda works!)
Myers’s Rum, $21.99
On the other hand, clear rum is best left to mixing in cocktails. Your flask needs a dark variety, with its complex burnt-caramel flavors. This Jamaican brand has been a favorite on American shores for decades thanks to its rich and sweet flavor profile. You’ll taste molasses, vanilla and Christmas spices. Myers’s is delicious with ginger ale, or if you want something refreshing, plain club soda (add a squeeze of lime if you can find a wedge). And as a bonus, you can mix it with some brown sugar to make a delicious glaze to brush on chicken or ribs.
Deep Eddy Vodka, $18.99
If you’re going to drink vodka while tailgating, you should go with something all-American. Named for a popular swimming hole in Austin, this Texas vodka is made from corn, and the finished spirit retains a subtle hint of grainy sweetness, along with some citrus notes. Those flavors are more pronounced when the spirit’s at room temperature—an advantage for all-day flask sipping. The Deep Eddy brand also makes a very tasty ruby red grapefruit flavor, though that’s a bit too sweet to sip by itself.