Once again, Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. As improbable as it may have seemed a few months back, the New York Giants will be taking on the New England Patriots this Sunday in Phoenix, Arizona for the NFL Championship title. Thanksgiving notwithstanding, this Sunday is the biggest drinking day of the year, and whether you watch for a great game, a rout, or just for the ads, chances are you'll be doing it at a party with a cold drink in your hand. With all the chips on the table in the biggest sporting event of the year, shouldn't your choice of beverage reflect your loyalties? Let your friends and family know just where you stand by picking the perfect brew to support your team.
Ah, it could've been you out there! Should have been: 13-3 sure is a great record! Well, you guys have a right to be put out, so why not revel in that by drinking a great English Bitter? These beers have just the right amount of hops to leave a pleasant bitter aftertaste, but not so much as to make you choke like Tony Romo when Jessica's in town. Coniston's Bluebird Bitter is my personal favorite; with just a hint of malty sweetness balanced by clean wheat notes its the perfect "session" beer, and a relatively low alcohol content lets you drink all night without saying something that will give you even more to regret! If you are one of those particularly invested fans who is drinking to forget, pick up a bottle of Tito's Handmade Vodka. This five-times distilled, heavily filtered spirit from deep in the heart of Texas is as smooth and drinkable as a vodka of twice the price. At about $18 a bottle you can drink all night until you're crying like Terell Owens at a press conference.
We've had a rough time this year guys, Lord knows. Despite the injury of our quarterback and the tragic death of our star safety Sean Taylor we made the playoffs-- this, in and of itself, is reason to celebrate. For cocktail lovers out there, raise your glass at kickoff in honor Miami native Taylor with an ice cold Miami:
1/2 oz White Creme de Menthe
1 1/2 oz Light Rum
Dash of Lemon Juice
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into martini glass.
If you happen to score big money on the game, do further honor to #21 and donate some of your winnings to the Sean Taylor Memorial Fund, a trust established by the team to benefit Sean's infant daughter, Jackie.
Well damn, Pats fans, way to go! With a perfect season behind you and a record winning streak in the works, you've got a lot to feel good about. The obvious advice to celebrate your good fortune would be to have a Sam Adams. Yes, the Boston Beer Company makes many a fine beer, but I cannot say in good conscience that this is "always a good decision." In fact, the football fan from down east has any number of fine if less familiar beers with which to celebrate his good fortunes on the gridiron. Smuttynose Brewing Company of Portsmouth, NH offers a full line of well made craft beers that will appeal to any taste. The Old Brown Dog Ale is a particularly appetizing take on the classic British brown ale, offering a great malty-chocolate nose offset with a healthy dose of hops on the finish. Widely available at about $8 a six-pack, this makes an interesting departure from the same old ‘Boston Ale.’ If the weightier Belgian-Style brews are more your style, Allagash Brewery out of Portland, ME may be just your speed. This relatively young brewery (est. 1995) has quickly cemented itself as one of the finest makers of Belgian style beers in the Western Hemisphere. Though they produce a full line including a Dubbel, a Tripel, and several barrel-aged offerings, Allagash is probably best known for their White-- a crisp, spicy, refreshing take on the classic Belgian wheat beer. As a counterpoint, see if you can get your hands on their new Black, a wonderful Belgian-style stout. Unlike its more American-styled counterparts, the Black is possessed of a lovely roasted coffee/yeasty nose, a silky (but not creamy!) texture, and a finish as dry and dark as Bill Belichick's soul.
Segueing a wild card berth into an NFC Championship is no mean feat, and New York fans should be proud-- but let's not kid ourselves here: come Sunday night you will likely find yourselves crying in your cups. Fortunately, few states in our great union produce the breadth of native inebriants that New York has to offer, so there'll be plenty to help you forget all about that pretty boy quarterback, Tom Whatshisass. For you ex-pat city folk, seek out one of the many beers from the fabulous Brooklyn Brewery. Brewmaster Garrett Oliver has taken this producer to new heights, introducing amongst other things the brewery's first bottle-conditioned ale, the Local 1. Utilizing a special form of secondary fermentation, the Local 1 is an American beer of unique complexity, exhibiting notes of bread, citrus, wheat and spice, hung on a body both firm and crisp. For those that prefer their beer more quaffable, try the classic Brooklyn Lager, whose "dry-hopped" heritage shows in a floral nose unusual in an American Amber.
If you don't dig the suds but want to share in the NYC vibe, pick up a six pack of Original Sin Hard Cider. Founded by a couple of city boys sick of the prissy, sickly-sweet ciders that were once all to be had, this cidery produces nothing but real, dry, European-style ciders made from less sweet varieties and containing no artificial flavors or sweeteners. Their cider is a bargain at about $9 a six, and in true Super Bowl spirit, their ads are... eye-catching and memorable.
Though firmly in the shadow of its western counterparts, New York State is actually one of the largest producers of wine in the United States, releasing some of the finest Rieslings and Gewurztraminers this side of the Atlantic. If the fruit of the vine is more to your liking, toast Tom Coughlin and the Boys in Blue with a glass from Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery in Hammondsport, NY. Founded by the Russian scientist who made cold climate grape cultivation possible, DKF produces a wide range of crisp, acidic, dry and semi-dry whites and reds on its sizable estate on Keuka Lake, not far from Coughlin's home town of Waterloo. Their Salmon Run line makes for a wonderful value party wine ($10-$16), offering a superb dry Riesling and a surprisingly good Meritage red-- and rest assured, both go great with nachos and wings.
Here's wishing you and yours a safe and happy Super Bowl Sunday. May all your passes be completions, your celebrations be excessive, and your beers be cold ones. And yea, should things not go well for your team, remember this:
there's always next year. the refs were totally out to get them.