Recreate the tailgate experience right in your own backyard, with all the essential elements - scarlet and gray, grilled meats, alcohol - but give them a high-end spin.

There comes a time in most football fans' lives when crowding onto a blazing parking lot and swilling cheap beer with college students doesn't really qualify as fun anymore.

But watching Ohio State games at home alone doesn't cut it. As a compromise, what if you could recreate the tailgate experience right in your own backyard?

Our upscale "tailgate" party takes all the essential elements of a traditional OSU tailgate - scarlet and gray, grilled meats, alcohol - and gives them a high-end spin. So we have platinum tablecloths and silver serving trays, bright red flower arrangements, refreshing vodka cocktails and chili-slaw dogs served from a vintage vendor-style hot dog cart.

Simple, square and squat glass vases hold monochromatic arrangements of red roses, L.A. lilies and gerbera daisies, created by Flowers on Orchard Lane. Even the invitations and matching menu cards designed by By Request Stationery are simple and stunning, relying on fun typography and football playbook imagery.

We had the most fun with the menu, working with Shane's Gourmet Market to come up with Ohio- and California-themed dishes suitable for this year's big OSU-USC matchup.

So mini chili-slaw dogs topped with Cincinnati-style chili go head-to-head with lettuce wraps stuffed with Bay Area-style beef tenderloin.

Dijon potato salad loaded with cheese from Ohio's Amish country, green peas, bacon and boiled eggs competes against Bloody Mary Shrimp Shots with California crustaceans.

And cornbread rounds topped with pot roast, that Midwestern comfort-food staple, are put up against veggie-filled mini paninis loaded with eggplant, heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella.

Refreshing Southside Cocktails-made with vodka, simple syrup, soda water and lime juice, garnished with mint leaves-hit the spot on a warm September afternoon, while hand-dipped dark chocolate buckeyes are a sweet treat and fun nod to the home team.

Bloody Mary Shrimp Shooters 12 16-20-count shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 quart water 2 tablespoons pickling spice 1 teaspoon ground celery seed 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup V8 vegetable juice 1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish 1 tablespoon Grey Goose vodka 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder 1 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 dashes Tabasco sauce 1/4 cup ketchup

Bring 1 quart water to a boil, and add pickling spices, 1 teaspoon celery seed and 1 teaspoon salt. Add shrimp, and cook 2-4 minutes until shrimp are cooked through. Strain and cool. In a large bowl, combine vegetable juice, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, horseradish, vodka, cumin, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, Tabasco sauce and ketchup, and mix with a whisk.

Fill 12 shot glasses with 1 ounce of sauce each. Add 1 shrimp, and garnish with a 2-inch celery stick, if desired.

Mini Chili-Slaw Dogs

Top grilled all-beef hot dogs with chili, coleslaw and shredded cheddar cheese, and serve in a hot-dog bun.

1/2 lb. ground beef 1/4 cup minced onion 1 cup beef broth 1 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon chili powder 4 oz. tomato paste 2 oz. ketchup 1 pinch ground celery seed

Brown ground beef with onion. Add all other ingredients, and simmer till thick.

For the coleslaw dressing

2 cups mayonnaise 1 cup milk 1 cup buttermilk 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 2 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice 1 cup minced carrot (squeeze juice from carrots) 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup minced onion Black pepper 1 head cabbage, finely shredded

Combine mayonnaise, milk and buttermilk in a bowl, stir until smooth. Add sugar, lemon juice, carrots, vinegar, onion and pepper, and whisk until smooth.

Mix cabbage with enough dressing to coat.

Loaded Potato Salad

Ingredients

2 pounds cooked and quartered red-skin potatoes 1/4 cup diced celery 1/4 cup green peas 1/2 cup minced cooked applewood bacon 1/2 cup chopped hard-cooked eggs 2 tablespoon whole-grain mustard 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1 tablespoon minced parsley 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup shredded cheddar 1/2 cup crispy fried onion rings

Combine all ingredients, and mix well.

Southside Cocktail

Ingredients

2 oz. vodka 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice 4 oz. soda water 1 oz. simple syrup Fresh mint

Mix vodka, lime juice, soda water and simple syrup.

Credits:

Food and decor courtesy
Shane's Gourmet Market
For information, call 614-358-5555 or visit www.ShanesGourmet.com

Floral arrangements courtesy
Flowers on Orchard Lane
For information, call 614-262-0880 or visit www.FlowersOnOrchardLane.com

Invitations and menus courtesy
By Request Stationery
For information, call 614-488-7787 or visit www.ByRequestPaper.com