March Madness: The Sweet Sixteen in Cocktail Form
Just in time for tip-off later this week, we’ve got sixteen cocktails, one for each team still in the tournament, for all of your celebrations. These are so good, we won’t hold it against you if you try another team’s concoction! Oh, and feel free to cue up Sixteen Candles instead of the Sweet Sixteen ;)
For general tools, you’ll want plenty of ice, a cocktail shaker, cocktail strainer, bar spoon, jigger, measuring cup, knife and cutting board for garnishes, and assorted glasses depending on the drinks you’re making.
Now, let’s get this March Madness-inspired party started!
1. The Flying Tomato // Dayton Flyers
Not just a Shaun White reference, folks! This one is a beer-tail that celebrates the state fruit of Ohio.
What you need: Pabst Blue Ribbon; tomato juice; Sriracha; lime; celery; and more PBR.
How to make it: Pour 3 oz tomato juice into a measuring cup, add about a teaspoon of sriracha (one solid squeeze of the big bottle), add 4 oz PBR and give it all a stir. Fill your glass with ice and pour in the mixture. Add lime wedges and celery sticks for garnish.
2. Stangria // Stanford Cardinal
Celebrating the wine of California, this is a fizzy sangria.
What you need: red wine (we used ‘Two Buck Chuck’); brandy; ginger ale; sugar; oranges and lemons (slice these up).
How to make it: Add ice to your wine glass and fill it about half full with red wine. Add 2 oz ginger ale and 1 oz brandy. Add in lemon and orange slices. Stir in one teaspoon of sugar.
3. Hungry Bear // Baylor Bears
Celebrating another state fruit (Texas and the Grapefruit), this is not your average spiked lemonade.
What you need: vodka; lemonade; grapefruit juice; lemon.
How to make it: Combine 1 oz vodka, 4 oz lemonade, 2 oz grapefruit juice, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into your glass filled with ice. Add lemon slice for garnish.
4. Cranky Badger // Wisconsin Badgers
Badger don’t give a … well, you know. It’s the cranberry, the state fruit of Wisconsin, and the hot sauce that’s making these badgers cranky.
What you need: vodka; lemonade; cranberry juice; Tapatio hot sauce; lemon.
How to make it: Combine 1 oz vodka, 1 oz cranberry juice, 4-5 dashes of Tapatio, 4 oz lemonade, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into your glass filled with ice. Add lemon slice for garnish.
5. Gator Sunrise // Florida Gators
This might be the ultimate liquid homage to a team. We used Gatorade for this cocktail creation.
What you need: tequila; orange Gatorade; grenadine; orange.
How to make it: Add 1 oz tequila, 6 oz Gatorade, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir and strain into your glass. Pour ½ oz grenadine on a bar spoon and float it down the side of the glass to get the sunrise effect. Add an orange slice for garnish.
6. Kale-ifornia Colada // UCLA Bruins
You know what feels like LA? Kale and avocado in a cocktail. Yes, you read that right. Get your blender out for this one.
What you need: rum (we used Malibu, any light rum will do); kale (dino or curly); pineapple; avocado; cream of coconut; shredded coconut.
How to make it: Combine a handful of ice, 2 cups kale, half of the avocado, 2 oz rum, ⅓ cup cream of coconut, ½ cup pineapple, and a big tablespoon of shredded coconut in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and garnish with pineapple and shredded coconut.
7. Cattilac Margarita // Arizona Wildcats
Classic margarita with a twist. We’ll take one any time of year!
What you need: tequila; lime juice; Cointreau; Grand Marnier; limes.
How to make it: Combine 2 oz tequila, 1½ oz lime juice, 1 oz Cointreau, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Muddle slices of lime in the bottom of your glass and add ice. Pour contents of the shaker into the glass. Pour ½ oz Grand Marnier on a bar spoon and float it on the top. Garnish with limes.
8. Aztecarita // SDSU Aztecs
For the beer crowd, this is how we do the ‘rita with a Corona.
What you need: Corona; limeade; Grand Marnier; lime.
How to make it: Combine equal parts Corona and limeade in a measuring cup. Stir and pour over ice in your glass. Pour ½ oz Grand Marnier on a bar spoon and float it on the top. Garnish with limes.
9. Fast Jack // Tennessee Volunteers
We had to use Jack Daniels for this drink. Apricots play up the team colors.
What you need: Jack Daniels; club soda; apricot preserves; canned apricots.
How to make it: Combine 2 oz of the apricot juice from the canned apricots, 2 oz Jack Daniels, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Spoon apricot preserves into the bottom of your glass, and add ice. Pour in the contents of the shaker, top off with club soda and stir. Add an apricot for garnish.
10. Blue Howler // Michigan Wolverines
We went blue with this drink. Very blue.
What you need: tequila; blue curacao; club soda; canned apricots; limes.
How to make it: Combine 1 oz tequila, 2 oz of the apricot juice from the canned apricots, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Place an apricot half in the bottom of your glass, and ice. Pour in the contents of the shaker, top off with club soda and stir. Pour ½ oz blue curacao on a bar spoon near the edge of the glass and watch as the blue sinks to the bottom in a gorgeous display. Garnish with limes.
11. Sour Cyclones // Iowa St. Cyclones
Let’s get twisted.
What you need: vodka; Grand Marnier; cranberry juice; grapefruit juice; lemonade; limes.
How to make it: Combine 1 oz vodka, 2 oz grapefruit juice, ½ oz Grand Marnier, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Pour over ice in your glass and top off with lemonade. Use a bar spoon to pour 1oz cranberry juice slowly over the drink so it cyclones through the drink. Garnish with a lime slice (and for an added bonus – we threw some Pop Rocks on top).
12. Husky Fizz // Connecticut Huskies
If the Cyclones get twisty, then let’s get fizzy at the other end of the court.
What you need: vodka; lemonade; cranberry juice; club soda; blueberries; lemon.
How to make it: Combine 2 oz vodka, 2 oz cranberry juice, 2 oz lemonade, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Muddle blueberries in the bottom of your glass and add ice. Pour contents of the shaker into your glass and top off with club soda. Stir and garnish with a lemon slice.
13. Bourbon Cat Call // Kentucky Wildcats
In honor of the all-Kentucky matchup, we used the same base for the next two drinks: Kentucky bourbon and the state fruit, blackberries. This first drink is a julep-inspired recipe.
What you need: Kentucky bourbon; blackberries; simple syrup; mint.
How to make it: Layer ice, 2 oz bourbon, and several mint leaves into a cocktail shaker and muddle. Muddle mint leaves, blackberries, and 1 oz of simple syrup in the bottom of your glass and add ice. Strain the contents of the shaker into the glass. Garnish with mint leaves.
14. Basil Bird // Louisville Cardinals
Now it’s time to add some basil to the Kentucky bourbon and blackberry pairing. We’ll be sipping this long after the tournament is over.
What you need: Kentucky bourbon; blackberries; club soda; blackberry jam; basil.
How to make it: Layer ice, 2 oz bourbon, big scoop of blackberry jam and several basil leaves into a cocktail shaker and muddle. Muddle blackberries in the bottom of your glass and add ice. Strain the content of the shaker into the glass, top off with club soda and stir. Garnish with basil leaves.
15. Muddy Knight // Virginia Cavaliers
Fun Fact: Virginia is known for their peanuts. How do you get that into a cocktail? Make peanut butter simple syrup (which is as easy as making simple syrup, adding in a big scoop of peanut butter, and stirring until it’s completely dissolved). Tackle that first, then build this delicious drink.
What you need: Chocolate vodka; Kahlua; milk (we used almond, use your preference); chocolate syrup; peanut butter simple syrup.
How to make it: Combine 1 oz chocolate vodka, 1 oz Kahlua, 2 oz of peanut butter simple syrup, 2 oz of milk, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Line your glass with chocolate sauce and strain in the contents of the shaker. For a bonus garnish, add a peanut butter cup.
16. Lucky Spartan // Michigan St. Spartans
Not quite over St. Patrick’s Day? No problem. We’ve brought the green for the other Michigan team in the tournament.
What you need: Kahlua; green creme de menthe; milk (again, use your preference).
How to make it: Combine 2 oz Kahlua, 2 oz milk, 1 oz creme de menthe, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour the contents over ice into your glass.
There you have it! Our version of the sweet sixteen. Now, get to mixing.
Do you have a favorite March Madness beverage that you’ve created? Tell us all about it in the comments below!