The Season of the Drunken Cupcake

Every fall, I get to combine two of my loves: baking and Stanford football. Starting in September, my boyfriend and I lug some six-packs and some baked goods over to Lot 2 at the Stanford Stadium to partake in some pre-game fun with a group of die-hard Stanford fans ready to drink and eat until kickoff. For the fabulous 2013 season, I decided that my tailgate contributions would be themed: drunken cupcakes. Every week where I would have enough pre-game time to bake, I would bring alcoholic cupcakes that would fit within the theme of the tailgate. The theme was such a success that I have already decided to continue it next year.


There are a lot of alcoholic cupcake recipes out there, so it was difficult to pick only one each week. But now that the regular season is over, I can offer you a taste-tested, tailgater-approved selection of the best. The below recipes are a season’s worth of effort and are perfect for any adult party, football-related or not.

Blue Moon Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Blue Moon Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Blue Moon Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

September 7th, vs. San Jose State (34 – 13)

One of the many amazing things about my tailgate group? They like their themes. For the very first home game of the 2013 football season, the assigned theme was fraternities and sororities. My first thought was cheap beer, but I am pretty sure I have graduated from my college days to something a bit more sophisticated. A quick trip to Erica’s Sweet Tooth gave me two delicious options that I have tested before. I have always been more of a fan of Blue Moon than Corona, and for simplicity’s sake, I stuck with the one recipe for the game. Just as with the original, I chose to decorate using orange slices and bottle caps.

Mudslide Cupcakes

Kahlua Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream
Kahlua Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream

September 21st, vs. Arizona State (42 - 28)

It was decided that the next tailgate would be a birthday celebration. Whose you ask? Everyone’s. I couldn’t think of a particular birthday cocktail, so I just went with a classic that fit the alcohol I had on hand: the delicious mudslide. The recipe I found over at The Curvy Carrot also happened to showcase an interesting technique that swirled together two types of frosting. You can buy piping sets that make this easy, or follow the directions on the site. Since there was already kahlua in the cupcake, I decided to ditch the effect and stick with a Bailey’s buttercream frosting only. It was perfectly delectable with half the effort! To pay homage to the tailgate theme, I added some chocolate sprinkles.

Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes

 Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Vodka Frosting
Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Vodka Frosting

October 5th, vs. Washington (31 – 28)

Southern hospitality was the theme of the week, so of course bourbon had to be involved. And who knew that Betty Crocker would provide the perfect recipe? Due to practicality issues, I opted out of the coffee liqueur garnish and the actual tilted “boozy” cupcake idea, but the flavors held. I used a knife to cut out a cube from the center of each cupcake to fit in some of that delicious chocolate/coffee filling. In an additional nod to the theme, I dressed each cupcake with “pearls,” or white dragées. Pearls are definitely southern, right? At least that’s what us Californians like to think.

Here’s a tip: When these recipes call for an unusual alcohol that you might not want to have a full bottle of in your liquor cabinet, you may be able to find an airplane-sized bottle at your local liquor store, although the larger the store, the better the chances. I found the vanilla vodka for this recipe at my local BevMo.

Mimosa Cupcakes

Mimosa Cupcakes
Mimosa Cupcakes

November 23rd, vs. Cal (63-13)

With kick-off set for 1:00 PM, this was set to be an early tailgate. I decided the best thing to do was to make a cupcake focused on my favorite brunch cocktail: the mimosa. When baking with alcohol, I usually make sure it goes straight into the frosting so that you can actually taste it. Baking makes some of the alcohol evaporate from the batter, so that alcoholic flavor is not always present if put directly into the cupcake. It was much to my surprise when I could taste the champagne in both the cupcake and the frosting. Even without chocolate, this might be my favorite cupcake of the season.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Whiskey Ganache Filling and Bailey's Buttercream
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Whiskey Ganache Filling and Bailey's Buttercream

November 30th, vs. Notre Dame (27-20)

It may be inappropriate to say, but when planning the cupcake for our battle against “The Fighting Irish,” my first thought was to the popular cocktail called the Irish Car Bomb. Whatever you think of the name, the flavor combinations are perfection. Similar to the Mudslide Cupcake highlighted earlier, this one benefits from a Bailey’s buttercream frosting. The Brown Eyed Baker adds a whiskey ganache filling and replaces Kahlua with Guinness stout in the batter. I topped this cupcake with some red and white sprinkles to showcase our Stanford pride. Such a simple addition resulted in perhaps the prettiest cupcake picture I have ever taken. Note how the sprinkles catch the light.

Tequila Sunrise Cupcakes

Tequila Sunrise Cupcakes
Tequila Sunrise Cupcakes

December 7th, Pac-12 Championship Game vs. Arizona State (38-14)

By the time we got to the Pac-12 Championship game (an away game without a tailgate or theme), I had largely exhausted my go-to list of drunken cupcakes. With advice from a friend, I looked for a recipe that would reflect my favorite cocktail: a tequila sunrise. Luckily, I found a great one. Don’t let the soy milk fool you. The orange, tequila, and grenadine cupcake was perfectly moist despite my misgivings. This recipe suggests that you add some food coloring to the batter to color-correct, but I skipped that step, and the cupcakes turned out beautifully (as you can see above). I do love adding zest when I bake, and it seems fitting that orange zest should bookend the season.

Some Rosy Recommendations

If you are at all superstitious, you may take notice that Stanford won all of these games and was able to make it to the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row (and quite miraculously at that). I tried another cupcake recipe where the frosting would not set properly; that was the day of the USC upset. Perhaps if I had baked prior to the Rose Bowl, the outcome would have been different. Nonetheless, these cupcakes heralded a winning season, and any of them would be a celebrated addition to your future party menus.

© 2014 Megan Kathleen

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