If your Georgia Bulldogs are less than 60 hours away from kicking off the college football season, and you find yourself with all the usual opening weekend jitters that entails, you could probably use a drink. Allow me to help.
The second season is too early to be declaring a referendum on Kirby Smart’s tenure in Athens. The roster is still largely full of guys he didn’t recruit. The guys he did recruit are largely just cracking the lineup this fall. And the ones he did recruit who have already cracked the lineup remain very early in their collegiate careers. Unless Smart’s team implodes down to 6-6 and he starts showing up to games in sweatpants looking like he just rolled out of bed (sort of a Ray Goff circa 1995 look) any and all lasting impressions remain premature.
But it’s probably not too early to start thinking about drawing some conclusions. One of the things detractors of the Smart hire pointed out is that the University of Georgia is not a place for on the job training.. We as a fanbase are certainly not known for our laissez faire attitude toward college football, and we haven’t become moreso in the 15+ years since Mark Richt came to town. Georgia fans, like all college football fans, want to win now.
I haven’t heard anyone declare that Kirby Smart needs to win a national championship in year two. But I have heard a lot of fans say things that sound an awful lot like “we’ll know by the end of this season whether he’s got a national championship run in him.”
Again, not entirely sure that’s the case. But I do have to admit that if the Georgia Bulldogs don’t do something with the assembled talent in Athens this season, valid criticism is warranted. There’s a stacked tailback rotation, a quarterback with eight SEC starts and a bowl game under his belt, and a bigger, stronger, deeper offensive line. There’s the most experienced defense Georgia has fielded since 2012, a span in which Bulldog defenses have finished inside the top twenty in total defense more often than out of it. On paper this is a deep, talented football team. It should win a lot of games.
If it doesn’t, the explanation should involve meteors and kidnappings, and maybe Neyland Stadium turf. If Georgia isn’t playing for an SEC Championship in December and the official reason is “we’re still playing some young guys” or “we’re still learning to play The Georgia Way consistently” or “chemtrails!!!!” then, Kirby, we have a problem. That’s just the job. The one for which Kirby Smart signed up.
What’s the beverage of choice for this weekend’s first game of the Kirby Smart High Expectations Tour? The Rye Expectations.
This one requires a little preparation. You’ll start by preparing a bartending secret weapon: lemongrass simple syrup. Lemongrass, for the uninitiated, is a plant whose stalks and oil are often used in Asian cuisine. It has a subtle, citrusy flavor that’s pretty unmistakable. You can actually find it these days at most Asian markets or at many high end grocery stores. You’ll want to pick up two stalks, roughly chop them, and place them in a saucepan or pot with 2 cups of water and one cup of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let it steep for 20 minutes. Then stir to make sure your sugar is dissolved and strain out the lemongrass. Cover and chill. This will actually be enough for several drinks.
Once your syrup is ready fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add to it 2 ounces of your lemongrass syrup, 1 and ½ ounces of rye whiskey, 1 ounce of vodka, and 3 ounces of lemonade. Yellow or pink, homemade or store bought, the choice is yours. Again, Dawg Sports just has a strict no scurvy policy. Shake or stir the mixture and then strain into a chilled glass. It’s a solid combination of underappreciated whiskey and a unique, complex citrus flavor. And one of the best smelling cocktails you’ll come across, by the way.
So there you have it. Go grab some lemongrass, then let’s all get back here to watch some Thursday night college football. And. . . .