Food & Drink

How to Throw a Winning Tailgate

Southern Soul Barbeque fires up a game-day spread, sharing recipes for wings slathered in Cheerwine sauce, a standout smoked fish dip, and a zingy Bulldog smash


On college game days—specifically when the Georgia Bull- dogs are playing—Southern Soul Barbeque, on St. Simons Island, is packed with fans of football and food. Starting in the morning, bar manager Sophie Kammer batches up drinks, like her Bulldog Smash, a Georgia-fied version of a Bahamian classic. Meanwhile, co-owners Griffin Bufkin and Harrison Sapp fire up a rotating selection of game-day eats, including grilled chicken wings, slathered in a Cheerwine-based barbecue sauce, and smoked fish dip, a local favorite. “The game is blasted on all the TVs as everyone settles in for a good time,” Bufkin says. It’s a champion-worthy spread—and one easily re-created at your own tailgate.

Listen to Southern Soul’s tailgate playlist, including picks from former Georgia QB Stetson Bennett.

Grilled Cheerwine Chicken Wings

An unexpected sauce meets perfectly spiced game-day wings

(Yield: 12 servings)


    • 1 liter Cheerwine soda

    • 1 tbsp. minced garlic

    • 2 tbsp. cornstarch

    • 2 tbsp. water

    • 1⁄4 cup lime juice

    • 1⁄4 cup soy sauce

    • 1 tbsp. red pepper chile flakes

    • 48 chicken wings (or drumettes)

    • Salted ranch dressing, for serving

    • Blue cheese dressing, for serving

    • Carrot and celery sticks, for serving

Chefs’ notes: “We love how the Cheerwine wings have that deep burgundy color and how the sweet black cherry glaze balances the spice. When it comes to grilling, embrace the char—it helps the sauce stick.”


  1. Make the sauce: Pour Cheerwine into a saucepan and simmer on the stove until reduced by half, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, toast minced garlic in a toaster oven for a few minutes until crispy (or on a lined sheet pan in a 350°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes). Mix cornstarch and water in a bowl to make a slurry. Bring reduced Cheerwine to a boil and whisk in cornstarch mixture to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice, soy sauce, toasted garlic, and chile flakes. Set aside until ready to use (refrigerate if you’re making in advance to bring to tailgate).

  2. Grill the wings: Prepare a charcoal grill for medium-high heat. When coals are ready, arrange chicken on oiled grill grates, cooking in batches as needed. Brush with Cheerwine barbecue sauce. Cook, turning every few minutes, applying more sauce often, until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 15 to 20 minutes. Pull the wings off the grill and toss with the remaining sauce in a mixing bowl. Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing, along with carrots and celery, if desired.

Smoked Fish Dip

Southern Soul Barbecue’s crowd-pleasing party snack plays nicely with crispy crackers and veggies

Yield: 16 servings


    • 1 quart (4 cups) Duke’s mayonnaise

    • 1⁄3 lb. cream cheese, softened

    • 1 tbsp. Texas Pete hot sauce

    • 2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

    • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

    • 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

    • Fresh parsley, 1 big handful, chopped

    • 2 tbsp. minced shallot

    • 2 tsp. horseradish

    • 1⁄4 cup heavy cream

    • 1 tbsp. capers (optional)

    • 3 lb. of your favorite smoked fish (store-bought or homemade), flaked


  1. Chefs’ notes: “This dip always goes fast when we put it out. Our favorite fish to smoke for dips is local king mackerel. It has the perfect oil content and stands up to the smoke. Mullet and mahi-mahi are also really good, but any smoked fish or even oysters will work with this versatile base.”

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except fish. Make sure everything is fully blended, then fold in the fish. Transfer to a large, shallow serving dish and serve with crackers and veggies. 

The Bulldog Smash

A sweet Caribbean classic with a Georgia twist

Yield: 16 servings


    • 4 cups Thirteenth Colony rye whiskey

    • 2 cups Blended Family No. 4 peach liqueur

    • 2 cups Giffard Ginger of the Indies liqueur

    • 4 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice

    • 4 cups cranberry juice

    • Orange slices, for garnish

    • Cherries, for garnish


  1. Chefs’ notes: “This batched drink is inspired by the classic Bahamian cocktail the Goombay Smash as a tribute to the national champion Georgia Bulldogs. Our version replaces the rum with rye whiskey and peach liqueur but retains its subtropical vibes with fruit juices and a splash of Giffard ginger liqueur. We like the way the rye holds its own with the sweet fruit flavors.”

  2. Pour all ingredients except garnishes into a clean 1-gallon jug (any leftover tea/lemonade/milk jug will do). Shake to combine. Put in cooler to transport. At the tailgate, fill 16-oz. stadium cups with ice. Give the jug another few shakes.

  3. If it’s been sitting for a while, then pour cocktail over ice. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.