When it comes to March Madness, there’s more than just basketball on the line. This isn't only a battle of teams, there's also the conflict of the best way to imbibe throughout all those days and nights of game-watching. We can't promise that your favorite team will make it to the Final Four, but we can promise that you'll drink well throughout the tournament season thanks to our roundup of signature drinks from a number of your favorite March Madness contenders' hometowns. Don’t have a hometown team? We have an easy-sipping beer or cocktail with your name on it, too.
1. Apricot-Whiskey Smash
Kentucky fans might be partial to a Mojito, but the fruit of this cocktail makes it a great pairing with all those salty snacks and hot wings you’ll chow down during the game. Feel free to substitute any stone fruit, fresh or frozen. Get our Apricot-Whiskey Smash recipe.
2. The Roycroft
A blend of rye whiskey, benedictine, chartreuse, cherry heering, and lemon comes to us from Gary Crunkleton, owner of The Crunkleton bar in Chapel Hill. While not the most intuitive blend, the bar is based on the ideals of the Roycroft Craftsmanship, and their belief of working with your head, hands, and heart to create happiness. For those rooting for Duke, they’re putting a lot of hope in those hand skills. Find the recipe here.
In the heart of Virginia, in the hills of Nelson County, the Virginia Distillery is one of the few in the country to produce a single malt grown, malted, and distilled entirely in the United States. From this unique spirit comes the Copper Barley: a tasty blend of muddled orange rind, sweet vermouth, Virginia Highland Malt, and a dash each of angostura and orange bitters. Find it here.
There’s no shortage of great pilsners, IPAs, and stouts in Pennsylvania, but for a rowdy game night, we like a lager-based cocktail. The Panaché is both light and fruity, so you can make it through those especially long game days. Can’t find French lemonade? A citrus soda works just as well (we’re partial to Squirt). Get our Panaché recipe.
5. New Glarus Spotted Cow
If you’re rooting for the Badgers, odds are you know New Glarus, and for that you have a one-up on any opponent. No need to muddy this farmhouse ale—just smooth, easy drinking. Try not to be too smug. Find it here.
What better way to celebrate Washington’s abundant apple crop than with a tangy, sparkling cocktail? Made nonalcoholic or spiked, this is a great match for your hottest hot wings and salsas. Get our Green Apple Sparkler recipe.
The official cocktail of the Preakness Stakes is certainly worthy to be the official cocktail of the Maryland basketball team. Use DIY sour mix to up your game. Find it here.
8. The Chardonnay Cover-Up
There’s one at every gathering: that party-goer who opts to bring the cheap bottle of wine over the cheap six-pack. This aperol-fueled batch cocktail will make that wine more than welcome. Get our Chardonnay Cover-Up recipe.
This riff on NYC-based Pegu Club’s cocktail swaps beer for champagne, far more appropriate for the plastic-cup game-day festivities. Get our Dirty Flower recipe.
10. Hoosier Sangría
This sangría starts with a semisweet red wine made in Indiana. Can’t say too much about the terroir of the Hoosier state, but a sangria infused with the smoothness of orgeat syrup sounds like it goes down easy (hopefully not like the boys from Indiana). Find it here.
11. Ginger Peel
From Iowa City, this cocktail couldn’t be an easier win: Maker’s Mark, ginger syrup, orange peel. Find it here.
12. Ginger Pear Cosmopolitan
Better than your standard cranberry-lime Sex and the City cocktail, this recipe from Monarch in Wichita, Kansas, starts with house-infused pear vodka, and adds ginger liqueur and a cranberry juice float. Find it here.
13. Bitter Mai Tai
With a cynar base, this brazen cocktail from Valkyrie in Tulsa is a great blend of sweet and sour, not unlike the ups and downs of a great game. Find it here.
14. The Triple Threat
A cocktail made of three types of tequila and jalapeño might not be what you’d expect from a bar in Utah, but the kick from this cocktail from The Copper Union in Salt Lake City will quickly dispel any questions. Find it here.
Kelley Peters is a Brooklyn-based wine writer and educator. She still sometimes gets confused in wine shops.