Here at OTE, we like to think of this place as "the quintessential Big Ten smoking room," and a damn good smoking room it is. But just about everything--particularly college football--is better with a good drink in your hand, and Off Tackle Empire has never divulged the house cocktail list. It's time to develop the menu.
With such a discerning clientele, the Off Tackle Empire Bar naturally would have any Midwestern microbrew you can think of on tap--Great Lakes, New Glarus, Goose Island, Troegs, etc.--and an admirable selection of whiskeys and bourbons to sip while discussing such deep philosophical questions as "Are Ohio State and Michigan secret lovers?" and "If Floyd's only ever lived in Iowa City and Minneapolis, has he ever been truly free?" (The answer to both questions is no.) But there are already bars and smoking rooms that offer these things, and OTE didn't set out to do what's already been done. Thus, I have taken the liberty of assigning existing cocktails or inventing new ones to be official School Drinks for each university in the conference, plus a few other house specialties. At the OTE bar, you're free to drink what you'd like, but drinks are strongly recommended based on your alma mater/school affiliation.
(DISCLAIMER #1: I haven't tried all of these personally. But someone really should. Looking at you, ICEICE.)
(DISCLAIMER #2: I make no apologies for having a sweet tooth.)
The first drink on the menu is for when things are going right in Urbana-Champaign: the Urbana Champagne. Admittedly, this is just a standard mimosa, but you go with what works: 1 part Grand Marnier, 2 parts OJ, top with champagne. Add a splash from Tim Beckman's spit cup for the truly school-spirited. Tastes like Red Grange himself.
Illinois' second cocktail is speculative in nature and doesn't exist at the moment, just like their mascot. Hypothetically, if there were any Native American brands of whiskey, an even mixture of each would form a drink we'd call the Tribal Council. However, this would be considered a "nice thing," just like Chief Illiniwek, so naturally they can't have either.
Indiana's drink, the Red Zone, is a glass full of straight jalapeno vodka. Inspired by their football team, the Red Zone is plenty strong on the offensive, possibly stronger than anything else on the menu, but most wouldn't consider it a well-rounded drink and would like it much better if it were paired with something else--say, a defense. Garnish with a candy cane for extra school spirit, and because it can't taste much worse.
Iowa is lucky enough to be able to claim one of my favorite shots as an official drink at the OTE Bar. Very similar to a Cement Mixer, Bird Poop is 1 shot of Baileys and 1 shot of lemon juice (a Cement Mixer uses lime juice, but school colors and all), with the two served in separate glasses. The Baileys is taken first and is not swallowed, followed by the lemon juice, at which point they are shaken and swished around the mouth. The acid of the lemon reacts with the dairy in the Baileys and the liquid quickly takes on the consistency of pudding--or bird poop. I truly enjoy this shot, but to be honest, there are many, many people who find it disgusting. But that's okay, Iowa fans, most people don't like your state, either, and does that stop you from living there? Of course not! So go on, try some Bird Poop. Vodka Sam approves.
If Bird Poop's not your thing, try drinking with a purpose: attempt to appease AIRBHG by drinking an Iowa Sacrifice. 1 part tequila, 1 part moonshine, 1 part bacon vodka, then light it on fire. The portion that burns off is the tribute, and we recommend giving AIRBHG at least half. When ready, extinguish and consume.
Michigan fans, I have a confession to make.
I'm sorry for everything. I'm sorry for the name-calling, for the hatred, for dominating you over the last twelve years, and for peeing on that van I parked next to that had "I bleed maize and blue" stickers plastered all over it. Let me get you a drink to show you I mean it. Here, take it. That's it... drink... swallow... HAHAHA I'M NOT SORRY AT ALL YOU ARROGANT BASTARDS, THAT'S CALLED THE FUCK MICHIGAN, IT'S A SHOT OF MY OWN URINE! DRINK UP! And it's fitting, seeing as the first time I visited Ann Arbor, I saw a Michigan student actually pee herself on the campus bus in the middle of the afternoon. Left a puddle in the seat. Wallow in your own filth, Wolverines. And don't complain, at least it matches a school color!
Speaking of school colors, Michigan's bonus drink commemorates their official Adidas colors of Sun and Blue with a drink called--wait for it--Sun and Blue, made by putting 1 egg yolk in 4 shots of blue curacao. The alcohol in the blue curacao totally kills off the bacteria that cause salmonella*. You're welcome, Michigan.
*Totally does not kill off bacteria that cause salmonella.
Michigan State's first drink, Sparty's Skirt, is a good one: 1 part Goldschlager, 1 part sour apple schnapps. It's a school color, and it actually tastes good. Despite this, the Sparty's Skirt is not nearly as popular at the OTE Bar as MSU's second drink.
The Conspartacy is 3 parts absinthe, 1 part sour apple schnapps, and is poured from unopened bottles by the drinker themselves, preferably into their own personal flask or Uncle Si cup (Duck Dynasty reference for the un-American). Each Conspartacy comes with a tinfoil hat and a whisper of inside information from the barkeep. "Psst, hey SpartanHT, my sources tell me Dave Brandon is actively trying to boot Michigan State from the conference and replace them with any of the directional schools." "Hey, MSULaxer, got a juicy piece of info for you, turns out Lou Anna K. Simon is a plant. She's got a deal in the works to give the Ag school to Michigan." "Hey, Delany was just in here, overheard him saying how much he hates MSU and how the refs got bonuses for every pass interference call against them in the Notre Dame game." Thing is, some of what the bartender tells you will be real, and some won't. Or is it all true? YOU'LL NEVER KNOW.
Minnesota's drink, the Minnesota Rouser, is 1 part Goldschlager and 2 parts cranberry juice, because, again, school colors, and it's probably drinkable, so it goes on the menu.
The Golden Gophers' second drink on the menu is the Jerry Killshot: pour all the alcohol that has collected in the bar mat into a glass and go bottoms up.
The Huskers' first drink on the menu has been a certainty since my buddies and I were pregaming at the Single Barrel in downtown Lincoln (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) prior to Ohio State's first visit to Nebraska in 2011, and a huge, burly, barrel-chested man with barbed wire tattooed around his biceps and a red cowboy hat on his head slowly approached our table, looking like he was about to give us hell... then he suddenly broke into a big grin and pulled out Red Headed Sluts (2 parts Jagermeister, 2 parts cranberry juice, 1 part peach schnapps) for each of us and sat down and drank with us. But story be damned, have you SEEN the girls at Nebraska? This would be Nebraska's drink regardless, in honor of the largest concentration of beautiful co-eds I've ever seen.
On the other hand, the massive struggles of the vaunted Blackshirts over the past several years is just as eye-catching as Nebraska's women, and anymore they're the Blackshirts in name only. Thus, Nebraska has also been given Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade. You know it's basically just pop, but if it makes you feel better to call it a real alcoholic beverage, more power to you. We'll humor you as you point out that you can match us drink for drink with your Mike's while we throw back whiskey, just as we'll give the Blackshirts a pat on the back for only allowing 34 points to Wyoming and 31 unanswered to UCLA. You're doing the best you can, and that's what counts!
Northwestern's drink is only served to those with their own Fortune 100 company or private island, because if you don't have either of those things you can't afford this one. The Great Catsby celebates riches, excess, and the color purple, and is made with 3 parts Chambord raspberry liqueur, 1 part blue curacao, and 1 part Ley .925 Ultra Premium Tequila (for you plebeians who aren't familiar, that's the $3.5 million per bottle stuff).
Ohio State gets the best of the bunch. The Buckeye is a layered shot of 1 part Kahlua and 1 part Baileys, with the different shades of brown resembling those of a buckeye. Tall, dark, sophisticated and delicious, just like Buckeye scholars and gentlemen the world over, this drink is year after year the best and most sought-after drink on the menu.
The last several years have been rough for Penn State fans, so it's a good thing they've got a good drink. Paying homage to one of the coolest sights in the conference, the Whiteout is made with 3 parts vanilla vodka, 1 part Baileys, 1 part whole milk and 3 parts heavy cream.
Of course, Penn State fans are the reason the Ohio State University Marching Band has sworn to never return to Happy Valley, so PSU's second drink on the menu is a Urine Bomb, just like those that were lobbed off the highest row of Beaver Stadium at the marching band hundreds of feet below. The Urine Bomb is prepared like a standard Cherry Bomb (1 part cherry vodka, 3 parts Red Bull, splash of grenadine optional), with the main difference being you may or may not randomly have a half-filled bottle of urine flung at your head by the bartender without any provocation, advance warning or chance to defend yourself. Why would anyone order this, you ask? A Urine Bomb comes with a half-hour moratorium on any Sandusky-related conversation in the entire establishment. It's up to you to weigh the risks versus rewards.
This should be obvious. Purdue's drink is the classic Boilermaker, specifically comprised of the Lafayette Brewing Company's Tippecanoe Common Ale from Lafayette and Templeton rye, distilled in Lawrenceburg. Chase the whiskey with the beer, or bomb the beer with the whiskey, or both--actually, try it both ways, one right after the other. It'll help make watching your football team a little easier.
Old habits die hard around the OTE Bar, so with apologies to Gary Anderson and all the Badgers fans who were happy to see Bert leave, Wisconsin's drink is the Bielema Special: a warm keg of Miller Lite that must be finished before you're allowed to exit the bar. (Note: while beer is not a cocktail, this is Wisconsin, so beer as a cocktail should surprise nobody.) This is your punishment for having had him as your coach. Multiple instances of excessive karma have been reported following consumption of the Bielema Special, including losing big games, being a douche, or being a relatively attractive female who wakes up one day to realize she's married some fatass ex-frat boy who does mediocre work as a football coach and is hated by his peers and picks fights he can't win and doesn't stick with the run despite that being the core identity of his program and just run the ball, it was working, but he still tries to pass and he loses because of it and he walks around the house shirtless making hog noises and MAMA ALWAYS SAID TO FIND A GOOD MAN AND WHY DIDN'T I LISTEN I'M SORRY MAMA WHAT HAVE I DONE WITH MY LIFE GOD HELP ME.
Actually, only one instance of that last one has been reported.
I'm still upset about Maryland joining the conference, and thus set out to make fun of them with their drink more than create anything serious. So I thought, "What would be more ridiculous than a vodka infused with that seasoning that all those Laxbros worship?" Lo and behold, Old Bay vodka actually exists, and is the basis of Maryland's drink, the Bloody Maryland. It's a standard Bloody Mary but made with Old Bay vodka, and the bartender's spittle, because Maryland is still not welcome here.
BONUS: NOTRE DAME
We as a conference spend enough time with Notre Dame that they may as well have a drink on our menu. They get O'Douls, which pretends to be beer but is actually non-alcoholic, just like Notre Dame pretends to be pious but actually is guilty of manslaughter for Declan Sullivan and victim blaming which led to the suicide of Lizzy Seeburg, and just like Manti Teo pretended to grieve for a dead girlfriend to attract attention for his Heisman campaign when she actually never existed. O'Douls, with a chaser of Holy Water. Drink up, Notre Dame.
As with Maryland, I set out to make fun of Rutgers through my creation, and as with Maryland it turns out the heavy lifting has already been done for me. The Jersey Turnpike was originally going to be a simple alcoholic protein shake, but--what's this?--look what already exists! Devotion Vodka, sponsored by Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino of Jersey Shore fame, is an 80-proof protein-infused vodka. So we'll use that. The Jersey Turnpike: 1 part Devotion Vodka, 1 part standard protein shake. Consume before, during, and after the gym.
drink responsibly don't let drinking responsibly get in the way of having a good time in the OTE Bar. Go B1G or go home!