To celebrate National Tailgate Day, we packed up the cars and headed to University of Illinois for their first football game of the year.

The tailgate concludes with a University of Illinois football game.

If you’ve been a Bubbly Side of Life fan for a bit, you may remember Joey, the oldest of the two bubblyologists.  Well, he’s in his second year, so we had to make the 2 hour and 25 minute trip down to commemorate the football tailgating season.

Here’s an interesting fact, the only tailgating I have ever done is at a Jimmy Buffett concert.  And when I woke up this morning, I heard the news that Jimmy Buffett had passed away.  Now, I am totally in mourning, but going to celebrate Jimmy today while tailgating.  

The Tailgate Menu

Having only been to a Jimmy Buffett tailgate before, I am very familiar with a theme, but I was a bit unsure about this theme because football is not my sport.  But celebrating is.  And bubbly is.  So I do what I do best and created some cocktails that can be topped with bubbly and off we went.

I was also in charge of dips.  And if you’ve ever watched Friends, I take my menu responsibilities very seriously like Phoebe with the ice for Rachel’’s baby shower.  While I didn’t give it too much thought if these pair well with bubbly or not, they definitely did thanks to the items I brought along to dip.  

Mason Jar Bubbly Cocktails

Let’s start with the good stuff and quite frailly the most important part of any tailgating menu…the cocktails.  We always had a theme cocktail at Jimmy Buffett, but since my sister and brother-in-law and I have very different tastes, instead of making a big batch bubbly cocktail, I made several mason jar cocktails. 

This may be my best idea ever and it’s adapted from a tip my sister found on Pinterest.  She saw that if you drank your beverage in a mason jar, you can simply take off the lid, replace it with a cupcake wrapper, then insert a straw, you will not have any intruders in your drink.

Mason Jar cocktails complete with a bug proof lid for your tailgate.

So I took it one step further and created the base for these cocktails in the mason jar itself, put it into the freezer, and then into the cooler they went.  This served two purposes….they were frozen so it helped keep everything else cold and we needed less ice in the drinks to keep it cold.  Yes, this is basically another version of my ice cube obsession.

To create these mason jar cocktails, I didn’t muddle the fruit, I left it whole and only added the fruit, liquor and lemonade or limeade.  And then I put them in the freezer overnight. This way they were frozen to begin with, thawed just enough while we made the 2 hour 25 minute drive to Champaign.

Frozen mason jar cocktails made this football tailgating menu so easy to pull off.

We packed the ginger beer and bubbly to top when we got to our tailgating site.  

Bubbly Blackberry

  • 1/4-1/2 c blackberries 
  • 1 1/2  oz vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz limeade
  • 1 small can Ginger beer 
  • Bubbly 

Razzlin’ & Dazzlin’

  • 1/4-1/2 raspberries 
  • 1 1/2 oz limoncello
  • 3/4 oz raspberry vodka 
  • 1 1/2-2 oz lemonade
  • Bubbly or limoncello bubbly 

Good Day Sunshine

  • 8 strawberry quarters
  • 4 oz lemonade
  • 1 oz Strawberry lemonade vodka
  • 1 oz limoncello
  • Bubbly or Limoncello Bubbly

I also brought some La Croix limoncello sparkling water and black raspberry just in case we needed to add some more liquid 

Dip Menu

If you want these dip recipes, I am happy to share, but I honestly went on Pinterest and searched cold dips because it was going to be in the upper 90s and we weren’t bringing a grill.  So I really just wanted cold dips that would be easy.

  • Cheddar bacon ranch dip
  • Spinach artichoke dip
  • Taco dip
  • Onion and chive dip
The tailgate menu included 4 dips and 2 snack mixes.  Did we have. ton leftover, yes we did, but was it delicious, yes it was.

Of course, my favorite part of any dip is the actual item you’re using to dip. So I bought:

  • Soft pretzel bites
  • Potato chips
  • Tortilla chips
  • Bagel chips
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery

I also made a football snack mix that was super simple.  Simply combined football shaped pretzels, Cheese-Its, Sun Chips, M&Ms, Caramel corn and Toffee Popcorn and nuts.  

Tailgate menu recipes included Onion dip, Taco dip, Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Cheddar Bacon Ranch dip.

Tailgating Supplies

Every time I am putting together any sort of celebration, my first stop is to the Dollar Tree.  First, I always take a peak around to see if there is anything in the theme I’m looking for.  For example, for this, I was looking for anything football related.  They didn’t have anything which was surprising.  So then, I went straight to the party aisle and assess the colored plates, napkins, flatware, etc.  

The other item I stock up on for any celebration is their serving bowls, serving spoons, etc.  These are because they look nicer than a plastic bowl and wash up nicely too.  I will say, they do tend to crack after too many uses or if not packed carefully, but at $1.25, I don’t mind too much. And yes, I got all the mason jars here for our mason jar bubbly cocktails.

The best place to get mason jars for your next tailgate is Dollar Tree.

Grabbing items in school colors works for a college tailgate so I did that with napkins and straws.  Since I wanted something football themed, I headed over to Party City and was able to get themed plates.  

Want more?

My first college football tailgating experience is officially in the books.  What should we celebrate next?

If you need some ideas, we have lots of bubbly cocktails and bubbly food pairing menus on the blog.  

We would love it if you joined us over on Instagram and shared Bubbly Side of Life with all your bubbly poppin’ friends.  

What should we celebrate next?