What better to kick-start me back into the blogosphere with some talk of beer and football? No, my friends, we’re not at college football season yet (and given the way the Cubs are playing I might actually welcome the hope of a new Notre Dame season). But I digress. We’re talking the world’s football here — footy, if you prefer — in the world’s greatest sporting event – The World Cup.
Despite soccer being an afterthought for most American sports fans, Americans do welcome one thing when the Cup comes around — the opportunity to stir up their hidden jingoism around the U.S. Men’s National Team and, of course, find a place to drink, watch and cheer with other crazy Americans who’ve never previously had an interest in soccer.
Here in Brooklyn there are plenty of places to gather, but I’ll share those that I’ve experienced and why you should (or should not) go there for the games.
Not exactly a hub of hip, but there are a few bars that advertise “Catch all the World Cup Action Right Here!” outside their establishments. Yellow Hook Grille, on 71st and 3rd Avenue, is one such place, where the flags of participating nations are painted on their windows. Unfortunately, you will not catch all the World Cup action if you do go. We ventured over there for the 10:00 am match between Ghana and Australia in the group round to find that the restaurant/bar was closed. Keep in mind – there had already been a 7:30 am match that morning. After watching the match at home we decided to try Yellow Hook again for the afternoon match between Denmark and Cameroon. Unfortunately, the bar was showing the Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees (teams not participating in the World Cup) on all the main screens. Only two small screens in the main bar were showing the soccer matches – with no sound – so it would have been impossible to “catch the action” as it should be caught for World Cup fans. Furthermore, the staff yelled at a couple who decided to leave and not pay for the food they’d just ordered because they came to watch the match and the staff wouldn’t change the game to the main screen. Bay Ridge restaurants aren’t exactly known for their, well… service. So I wasn’t terribly surprised.
We left and wandered into Las Margaritas (3rd Avenue between 72nd and 73rd), a small Mexican restaurant where previously we’d only grabbed takeout. They have two screens but both were tuned into the game and both were broadcasting on Univision – of course. Small crowd, but everyone was tuned in and the emotions were high. If you want a good, local, Spanish-speaking establishment without much fanfare to watch among real fans you can’t go wrong here. The service is friendly and their guacamole could rival any created in Mexico (and keep in mind, we’re in New York here – not California. Good Mex food is hard to come by). Unfortunately, they don’t serve alcohol. But for the pure experience it wasn’t needed.
Now, to the hub of hip. I lived in Park Slope for eight years and still miss it terribly, so naturally, when I decided to take Wednesday, June 23rd off from work to catch the final, decisive games in Group D, I hit the Slope. I was wearing my brand new Ghana jersey, psyched for their afternoon match vs Germany.
I would bet without a doubt that nearly every bar in Park Slope is showing the World Cup, but one in particular is one of the “official World Cup bars.” The Black Horse (5th Avenue and 16th Street) is one of the premiere places to watch the games. I decided to show up at 9:30 for the 10:00am match between the U.S. and Algeria. Three main screens above the bar, plus one on each end of the room – a great view from anywhere in there. As a British pub they also serve their Full English Breakfast in the mornings during the weekday games, and even have a veggie version which I was excited to try. Their beer selection is fantastic, as well — local favorites Sixpoint Sweet Action and Brooklyn Summer Ale and Pennant were of course on tap. The kegs were also flowing with: Magic Hat #9, Guiness, Old Speckled Hen, Stella (the official beer of the Cup), Radenberger, Harpoon IPA, Carlsberg, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Fuller’s Long Pride, Weinsteiner Heffe, Blackthorn Cider, and Hoegaarden. It actually wasn’t as packed as I expected – there was standing room – but I wanted a place to sit down and get some food, so we moved to Loki Lounge (see below). I returned for the afternoon match when there was considerably more room and a place to sit down. And that I did, with some Harpoon IPA and Sixpoint Sweet Action. The crowd was passionate for both Ghana-Germany and Australia-Serbia matches, though decidedly pro-German. Thankfully, nobody said anything about my Ghana jersey.
Loki Lounge (5th Avenue at 2nd Street) was a great place to watch a morning, weekday match. The fans there were just as passionate as at any other bar, but there was a small crowd of only about 20 so it made for a much more comfortable experience. The nice thing about a place that’s not beyond capacity is that there was more room for me to jump up and down screaming with joy when Landon Donovan scored the winning goal in the 91st minute. I don’t think I’d been that excited since Game 4 of the 2003 NLCS.
The beer selection is also highly approved of by Dana the Beer Snob. I stuck to Sixpoint Sweet Action for the most part, though I did try Blue Point’s Summer Ale — a bit too light for me, but you citrusy Summer Ale folks would probably enjoy it. Personally, I should have gone for the tried-and-true Blue Point Lager. My only complaint was that the huge screen in the back was showing the England-Slovenia match, while we had to watch the U.S. match up front at the bar on smaller screens. However, apparently they could only have sound for one match, so decided to give it to us Americans. I’d venture that for the upcoming matches where only one game is played at a time, the lounge in the back of Loki would be a perfect place to watch.
I’m also interested in checking out some games at The Rock Shop, the new sports bar on 4th Avenue and Carroll that used to be the lesbian bar, Cattyshack. With two floors, multiple rooms and a roof deck, it’s pretty perfect. Plus, @TheRockShopBK has been chatting with me on Twitter, so I’m happy to support them.
So there you have it. If you’re in Brooklyn, comment and let me know where you are watching.
And with that, I’m off to Queens to watch the afternoon match…