Sports Fans Are Embracing Premium Drinks

Elevating Experiences

Like seeing Babe Ruth’s bill of sale at the NYY Steakhouse, or sipping aged Venezuelan rum at Fenway Park, the motivation behind T-Mobile Arena’s top-level beverage program is to provide heightening consumer experiences.

“We’re trying to create a much more memorable event for our guests,” explains Jim Kohler, Levy Restaurant’s Regional Vice President.

One way T-Mobile Arena accomplishes this is with an artisanal ice program. Kold Draft machines in four of the stadium’s lounges create customizable, crystal-clear ice cubes shaped like spheres, diamonds, etc. This was an integral part of the oritinal plan, Kohler says, as it is “no doubt the best way” to elevate consumer experiences.


Expanding upon the ice theme, there is a rotating team of four “ice-breakers.” These bartenders carve ice off of huge frozen blocks stationed at lounge bars, giving guests fresh ice for their drinks while making for a memorable spectacle.

“Ice is the foundation of any mixed drink, but has been overlooked by so many bars for so long,” says Abou-Ganim.

Memorable Becomes Social

Both parts of the ice program, the cubes and the carvings, commonly end up on social media. Whether uploading on Instagram their cocktail with the clear, diamond-shaped ice cube, or a Snapchat of the ice-breaker slicing off frozen chunks, guests are posting pics of their beverages from T-Mobile Arena.

That’s free advertising, and proof behind the concept that guests today seek elevated experiences beyond the event they’re attending.

So is it at the NYY Steakhouse. While the food and drinks here make for popular social media posts, the restaurant takes it to another level with its signature 27 oz. (27, for the number of championships the Yankees have won) prime dry-aged long-bone rib eye ($78). The dish can be ordered with customizable messages and designs carved into the long bone.

Trained kitchen staff use a handheld drill. “It only takes a minute,” Fraino explains. “It doesn’t slow down the kitchen, and there is no extra charge. People will request it for special occasions like anniversaries. Or some guys just want their name put on their steak.”

One staff member in particular has become adept with the tool, carving designs like the Instagram logo or soccer emblems into bones. As one can imagine, this makes for popular, eye-catching photos for social media.

Ribeye-Sliced 2
The 27 oz. prime dry-aged long-bone rib eye can be ordered at NYY Steakhouse with customizable messages and designs carved into the long bone.

The upscale steakhouse chain also recently added a marketing media manager, who has established benchmarks in terms of the number of “likes” and “favorites” NYY Steakhouse content receives online. Her work includes holding food photo shoots to create digital content.

“Online is the future of any business, really” Fraino says.

Sharing Experiences

Though we also like to share in the moment. Watching a sports game is almost always more fun with friends, especially when craft beer, fine spirits, and/or craft cocktails are involved. These times are elevated experiences at their best.

When Diplomá holds tastings in Fenway suites, all fans present are invited to sample the premium rums and share their thoughts about the spirits. Suites at T-Mobile can order large-format punches. (These also take advantage of the Kold Draft machines, arriving with 5’’x5’’ solid clear ice balls.)

“There’s nothing more social than a bowl of punch,” Abou-Ganim says. “It lets you buy an experience.”

T-Mobile Arena also takes the shared experience up another level by offering do-it-yourself cocktail kits. These come with

“We’re always thinking of ways to bring in new ideas,” says Abou-Ganim.

Kyle Swartz is associate editor of Beverage Dynamics Magazine. Reach him at


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