We love baseball in Cincinnati. The Reds paved the way as the first Major League Baseball team in 1869 and our Opening Day celebration is pretty much the biggest holiday next to Christmas. Lets face it — our city knows how to do it right, especially when it comes to food, booze and rooting for the home team (Great American Ball Park just added Belgian waffles from Taste of Belgium and a local craft beer stand to their plethora of concession options). So before you succumb to high stadium prices, fill your belly and get your buzz started early — locally owned neighborhood sports bars in downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are serving up happy hour and Reds game specials with good grub and fun pre-game atmospheres; some even offer game-day transportation to and from the stadium.
The Beer Sellar
Located just across the river from Great American Ball Park, The Beer Sellar offers 63 taps, 120 bottles and a water taxi on game days, plus daily happy hour drink specials including $2 domestic drafts and $5 cheese pizzas 2-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
During Reds home games, since the bar is literally on the river, you can float to the stadium via a water taxi, which leaves half an hour before the start of each game and returns 20 minutes afterward. It’s only $5 round trip and is even equipped with a bar so you don’t have to sacrifice your buzz crossing the state line.
301 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., 859-431 6969, facebook.com/thebeersellar.
JerZees Pub & Grub
Conveniently located across the Ohio River in Newport, JerZees Pub & Grub is a unique sports bar with a recently renovated tropical patio, a full-fledged shuttle service, live music on the weekends and, of course, plenty of food and drink options.
“JerZees is a very laid back place to hang out with friends and has a little bit of everything for everyone,” says owner Rolf Obrecht.
Before a Reds game, stop in for $1 off any drink, half-price appetizers and $8 domestic beer buckets 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Their specials before heading down to the stadium include three mini burgers with Saratoga chips for $5 and all beef franks with Saratoga chips for $3.50.
Cool down with their popular Redlegs Shot made with cherry vodka and grenadine for $3.
Avoid costly stadium parking with their JerZees’ Game Shuttle. Just call ahead to request the service and you and your friends are provided with free transportation to the game.
708 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859-491-3500, jerzeespub.com.
Wings and sports go together like, well, like wings and sports. The famous combo is what has made Knockback Nat’s not only a local favorite but also a nationally recognized eatery. They recently landed the No. 9 spot on the Travel Channel’s “101 More Amazing Places to Chowdown.”
Producers spotlighted the neighborhood bar for its signature smoked wings and brisket nachos. It’s the perfect spot to grub before a game and “knockback” a few cold ones.
10 W. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-621-1000.
Local’s Bar and Grill
With a location just blocks away from the Reds stadium, Local’s Bar and Grill is a prime tailgating destination before heading down to catch a game. They take pride in being a Cincinnati-based company with food from local suppliers, beers handcrafted from Cincinnati breweries and menu items inspired by traditional favorites unique to the city’s heritage, such as their signature chili and Queen City sandwich (corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and fried pickles).
Large groups can book private party rooms equipped with high-def TVs and a catering menu.
After work, before traveling to the game, enjoy half-price drinks and 50 cent wings from 4-8 p.m., Monday-Thursday. Then celebrate Friday with half-day half-price happy hour — half-price drinks and 50 cent wings 2-11 p.m.
19 E. Seventh St., Downtown, 513-721- 2255, localsbargrill.com.
O’Malley’s in the Alley
O’Malley’s in the Alley is Cincinnati’s second oldest bar — or as they refer to themselves, “Downtown Cincinnati’s Traditional Irish Hole in the Wall.” The Irish pub is a popular hangout for those getting ready to head over to Great American Ball Park. They have a wide variety of spirits, draft, craft and domestic beers and signature dishes like their famous O’Malley’s Burger and the Pub Favorite: a hot ham and Swiss sandwich with Guinness onions and mustard on a pretzel bun.
Enjoy happy hour prices 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, with $4 “call” cocktails, $1 off bottle and draft beer, $3 well cocktails and $1 off wine — plus all the free popcorn you can eat. During Reds home games, enjoy $10 domestic buckets and their $3 Reds Grand Slammer shot special.
25 Ogden Place, Downtown, 513-381-3114, omalleysinthealley.com.
Grab some pre-game drinks at Rhinehaus, currently the only sports bar in Over-the-Rhine. They offer an extensive selection of craft and bottled beer, 16 taps that rotate frequently and signature cocktails.
During Reds games get happy hour prices with $1 off drinks, making domestic bottles $2, drafts $4 and well drinks $3. They also serve complimentary pretzels and encourage everyone to bring in food, especially from surrounding OTR vendors.
“Depending on the game day, it is second to being at the actual game,” says Mark Farris, Rhinehaus general manager. “The atmosphere is comfortable, fun and energetic and there is great banter and camaraderie between our patrons.”
119 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-2277, rhinehausbar.com.