In The Pocket

My Rouses Everyday, September/October 2017

It’s gameday. You show up at a tailgate. Your best friends are there, decked out in team colors.

Fold-out tables groan under the weight of wings, dogs, barbecue. You’ll be stuffing your face soon. But first, you want a sip of something. You walk over to the makeshift bar with anticipation. And your heart sinks, because all you see are no-name whiskies, vodkas and other spirits — the kind of stuff you drank back when you couldn’t afford to buy anything halfway decent. It’s not that you’ve become a snob, but you’ve moved past the age when you’re willing to settle for second-best, especially where your spirit of choice is concerned.

I have an easy solution for next time: Bring a flask.

Look, you know what you like to drink. Why take a chance? Bring it with you. Think of it as an insurance policy: You can’t guarantee who’ll win the game, but you know you’ll win the tailgate.

Hip flasks are nothing new; they’ve been around for ages. The earliest were made from leather, then silver and glass. Their heyday was during prohibition, but nowadays, they’re making a strong comeback.

I own flasks — both vintage and new — in a variety of shapes and sizes. These days, flasks are typically composed of stainless steel, often sporting a stylish leather exterior. You can also find practical, utilitarian plastic models. There are thin, discreet flasks that hold a couple of ounces, and larger sizes that will hold a few bottles worth of liquor. To be clear, those jumbo flasks are designed for sharing.
The main function of a flask is to hold a distilled spirit for just a short period of time — for a few days at most. It’s not a permanent storage solution. I’d probably dump whatever’s leftover after three or four days if I didn’t finish it at the game. Really, don’t keep your whiskey in there for months. Spirits last almost forever, but they’re designed to “live” in the glass bottle they came in, not a temporary vessel that might alter the taste of them over time. Where tailgating is concerned, the portability of the pocket flask makes it pretty indispensable, since you might have to hike to the tailgate area, possibly carrying chairs, picnic baskets, coolers and all the other necessities of this football season ritual.
As far as what to put in your flask, well, that’s up to you, as long as it is a distilled spirit. I carry bourbon or a single malt, but you can do rum, brandy, vodka, gin — whatever you’re in the mood for. Fill it with one of your favorites, because no one is going to judge you on what you’re drinking. But be forewarned — if you tell them, they may want a sip.
Lastly, flask care is really easy. Just rinse it with warm water and a drop of soap when you get home. Make sure it’s completely rinsed clean. Shake out any excess water when you’re done, then turn it upside down on a drainboard and let it air dry. One more tip: When I go to press my flask into service and it’s been a while since I last used it, I always give it a good rinse before filling with my spirit of choice. That way, my drink tastes clean and fresh, no matter what’s happening on the field.