As you plot your Super Bowl gathering, you're probably thinking about spicy wings and creamy dips, epic nachos and meaty chili, potato skins and of course, a fridge full of beer. (Got wine drinkers in your group? Here's how to pick wine that'll taste great with your Super Bowl snacks.) Still, it's nice to have a pitcher of cocktails—and an non-alcoholic option—ready as well. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
The Ultimate Bloody Mary
You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning, so we recommend mixing up a pitcher or two of Bloodies before the kickoff. The key to a winning Bloody Mary is punching up the savory side with umami-rich ingredients like Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, plus freshly grated horseradish and a little Frank's hot sauce. As for the vodka, any decent cheap brand will do: the flavor isn't going to be that apparent once you mix in all your tomato juice and other flavorings.
Frozen Lime Margaritas
This is the best recipe we know for frozen margaritas: tart, refreshing, cooling, and easy to make ahead. The secret: placing your homemade margarita 'mix' in the freezer overnight. Try to use decent tequila here; we recommend seeking out Tapatio, which was recently introduced in the US. It's a steal at around $34 for a liter bottle.
Steak Island Beer Cocktail
This beer cocktail is somewhat similar to a michelada, but with a secret savory ingredient: steak sauce. It's an earthy drink that pairs up well with meaty nachos or chili; but it's cooling, tart, and refreshing, too.
Pineapple Rum Punch
If you're feeling ready for a little winter escape, this tropical drink will take you there thanks to ripe, fresh pineapple which infuses a simple syrup for a few hours (or overnight.) Aged rum adds caramel notes and richness, offset by tart lemon and sparkling water.
Bitter Salty Perro
We're all about citrus this time of year. For this pitcher drink, tangy pink grapefruit juice is front and center, paired with herbal silver tequila or a joven mezcal. The result is awesome for sipping early in the day...or into the evening. The acidity of the grapefruit, the bright tequila, and the bitter bubbly tonic with salt will cut through a plate of nachos or seven-layer dip like nothing else.
Northern Spy's Celery Tonic
The Bloody Mary is a classic savory cocktail; if you're up for exploring the world of other savory drinks, this light beverage is a great place to start, inspired by Cel-ray soda (which is surprisingly awesome in a Gin & Tonic.) It's made with fresh celery juice and lemon, stirred with herbal dry vermouth and bittersweet Cocchi Americano. It's a cooling, slightly salty cocktail that won't sit heavily in your stomach (until you eat another plate of wings).
Get the Recipe: Northern Spy's Celery Tonic »
Savory Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Frozen Daiquiri
While we're talking about drinking your veggies, we recommend cooling your mouth after fiery wings with this unusual spin on a frozen daiquiri, made with cucumbers and herbal, softly licorice-scented Green Chartreuse. This is best prepped the night before your party, which frees you up at game time.
Get the Recipe: Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Frozen Daiquiri »
Hibiscus Rum Cooler
We always recommend making drinks by the pitcher for a party, and this one's a really nice presentation with fresh mint and a gorgeous magenta hue. Think of it as a spiked lemonade, that's super-easy to make, especially if you use Tazo tea bags.
Smoky Beer Sangrita
Harissa, a Tunisian hot pepper paste, adds a touch of smoky spice to this spin on sangrita, the tomato and citrus-based shooter often served alongside tequila. This version is a prep-ahead beer cocktail, made fizzy with a touch of hoppy IPA. Tequila sidecar optional.
Get the Recipe: Smoky Beer Sangrita »
Grilled Pineapple Mojito
Fire up the grill for this fun muddled drink, which showcases super-sweet grilled pineapple. The extra-sweet charred fruit is excellent paired with lime and mint leaves. The result is subtly smoky, tropical, and refreshingly minty.
Tequila and Campari with Tangerine
This pitcher cocktail is a light and refreshing option for Negroni lovers. Tequila pairs beautifully with bitter ingredients like Campari, and an aged tequila lends depth. Fresh tangerine juice (in season right now!) adds sweetness and just the right amount of bright acidity to keep everything lively.
This is an easy-drinking, easy-to-mix blend of ginger beer and lime, topped off with your favorite pilsner or pale ale. Use a good, spicy ginger beer such as Fentiman's, Reeds, or Maine Root. As for which beer you choose, go with a pale ale (such as Sierra Nevada) if you like things with a piney, bitter punch, or choose a pilsner if your crowd tends to prefer their beer on the lighter, crisper side.
Get the Recipe: The Bul »
Fresh Watermelon Margaritas
If you're serving super-spicy wings and jalapeno-topped nachos, you may want something fruity to calm the heat. Watermelon juice is extra refreshing, especially with a hit of lime (and, ahem, tequila.) To get the watermelon flavor to really come through in this thirst-quencher, you'll whir an ample amount of ripe cubed melon (seedless is best) in a blender with a little kosher salt. Instead of the traditional triple sec, this recipes calls for St. Germain elderflower liqueur, which adds a delicate floral sweetness.
Don't forget non-drinkers—and don't forget to encourage drinkers to occasionally alternate boozy drinks with something non-alcoholic! Grocery-store lemonade is ok, but the fresh homemade stuff is much better. Here's a classic recipe for lemonade with the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness. If you want to jazz it up a bit, check out Kenji's 12 variations.
Panela, unrefined cane sugar that is often sold in solid discs, has a full-bodied, robust molasses-like flavor. (Check out Kenji's recent post on how panela is made.) It needs to be chopped up and dissolved in hot water before being used in a drink, but the resulting deep, caramely flavor is totally worth the small amount of extra effort.