New York City bars, restaurants and entertainment venues are doing everything they can to capitalize on surging interest in this year’s World Cup, from offering creative drink and food specials to opening several hours early to accommodate early match start-times.
Soccer has never been this popular in America, with each USA game smashing ESPN’s online streaming records.
Local businesses across the country see dollar signs in all that attention, and a quick stroll along Manhattan's bustling streets during Thursday afternoon’s crucial USA-Germany showdown offered a glimpse into how some of them are attempting to bank on the trend.
There are multiple watering holes per block in many of Manhattan’s trendiest neighborhoods, so they are trying to differentiate themselves from each other as fans look for the best place to enjoy the World Cup over a couple of drinks.
Nearly every bar in the city has been opening before noon for days with big first matches -- perhaps the most visible sign of the World Cup’s impact on Big Apple business practices.
The 12th Street Ale House in Manhattan’s bar-packed East Village neighborhood -- which is widely believed to have more drinkeries per square foot than any other part of the city -- has gone even further.
“We’ve been opening up five hours early for every single match,” said bartender Brendan Ceriello, who, like many Americans, wore a USA jersey to work Thursday.
“We want to be open for anyone who wants to watch, and I’m a big fan of soccer myself anyway. We’ve had people in the bar for every match.”
Like many other venues, the Gramercy Theatre has changed its lineup in order to attract fans and their beer money. The Flatiron District venue hosted a free big-screen viewing of the USA-Ghana match on Thursday that attracted dozens of thirsty Team USA supporters.
Another nearly ubiquitous tactic New York saloons have employed in hopes of getting big World Cup fans is the drink special.
As a basic first step, happy hours are being extended everywhere from the Flatiron District pan-European restaurant 1200 Miles to the popular East Village pub Finnerty’s Bar.
But the savviest proprietors are taking their beverage offerings a step further, adding special World Cup-themed drinks and promotions that play off of the tournament’s particular appeal.
Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha, is temporarily on the menu at many New York City bars that may usually not even stock cachaca, a sugarcane-based liquor used as the strong, minty drink's base, and other canteens have added Brazilian beers to their lists.
The Union Square-adjacent Coffee Shop bar and restaurant is selling four special Brazilian cocktails while the World Cup is underway: the caipirinha, caipiroska, caipiruva and strawberry batida.
Discounts are also deeper than ever as establishments compete with one another to offer eye-catching deals and wallet-saving price slashes.
The East Village’s Juke Bar gives fans a free shot of liquor for every goal the USA team scores, which cost its management exactly zero dollars Thursday as the Americans lost 1-0 to Germany.
Food offerings are also being adapted, expanded and discounted across the city for the World Cup. The East Village standby Professor Thom’s set up a “boozy ice cream” cart in front of its entrance, from which sweaty bar-hoppers could purchase red-white-and-blue scoops of alcohol-infused flavors.
A couple blocks south, Nicoletta Pizzeria offered World Cup-themed pizza and wings specials with names like The Kick and Chip Shot.
No matter where you decide to take in the matches, it’s a great time to be a hungry, beer-swilling, soccer-loving New Yorker, and the city is definitely a buyers' market. For Team USA's next match on July 1, expect to see plenty of variations on the Belgian waffle.