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Cocktail Thursday: Kentucky Edition.

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If it's Thursday and the Dawgs are getting ready to play, then you probably need a drink. Admittedly, you probably don't need the drink for the same reasons that you needed it earlier in the year. Two months ago, you needed a drink because you were more than a little anxious about a young offensive line, a defense that was young all over, and an offensive coordinator in his first full season on the job. You were worried that our receivers couldn't catch a cold. You were worried that we wouldn't find an effective tailback. You may even have worried specifically that we would lose a third straight game to the Florida Gators.

But now your worries have been put aside. You feel that, barring unforeseen cataclysm, this team has turned out to be pretty darned good. You're proud of them. You want to toast to their success. This team has moved from immature to finely aged in the blink of an eye.

To celebrate this transformation, I suggest you hoist a glass of Woodford Reserve bourbon. Distilled in Woodford County, Kentucky, Woodford Reserve is a small batch bourbon of international acclaim. It's even the official bourbon of Kentucky's most hallowed event: the Kentucky Derby. The distillery which produces Woodford Reserve has operated since 1812, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is reputed to be the place where American distilling forefather Dr. James Crow refined the art of commercial sourmash fermenting. This is the process by which all major bourbon distillers in the world (each of whom are in the U.S. of A., and 99% of whom are in Kentucky) now make the concoction which you enjoy on football Saturdays in the South.

Having a bottle of Woodford Reserve on hand for your guests shows that you are a genteel host, with an appreciation for quality, and an appreciation of the time it takes to generate a quality product. I think it is only appropriate that we offer this fine spirit to our incoming guests from the Bluegrass State as a token of our esteem. Rich Brooks will certainly appreciate the sentiment, having taken a few years to bring Kentucky football back to the halcyon days of Paul Bryant and Babe Parilli. Then, after they finish their drinks, I propose that we beat the unshirted hell out of their football team. Because even southern hospitality only goes so far. And these folks already have the franchise on basketball and whiskey. We can't give them everything.

To be sure, there is a lot of work yet to do. This Kentucky team is darn good, and we'll have our hands full on Saturday. They feature a deep receiving corps, a talented veteran tailback backed up by an equally talented freshman, and a coach who has more professional lives than the proverbial 'cat. He even got Stewie Mandel to admit a mistake. Clearly the guy has supernatural powers. But if you're like me, you have a newfound confidence in our team's ability to weather the storms that come their way and their ability to find a way to win. And I think we can all drink to that.