At Stock Market Bar Night, Buy Low and Drink Up

“Buy, buy, buy,” a bargoer shouted just after 6:30 on a recent Wednesday evening. He grabbed two shot glasses, vodka sluicing over his hands.

The 411, a pub in London, usually sells about £3,000 worth of drinks (about $3,800) on a weeknight. But on another recent Wednesday, it brought in £18,300 — more than $23,000 — said Antonio del Monte, the general manager.

The young and the thirsty had come for “Wall Street Wednesdays,” where drink prices fluctuate with demand like a stock market. Attendees queue three-deep at the bar for a “market crash,” when an air horn pierces through conversations and prices plummet.

“You need to keep your eyes on it,” said Emily Bjurqvist, a 23-year-old graduate student, as she nodded to TV screens showing price changes. “It’s more active than just a pub. And the prices might be better than a pub nowadays.”

An air horn sounds every half an hour or so to announce a new market crash.Credit…Peter Flude for The New York Times
Attendees keep an eye on TV screens around the bar, where drink prices update in real time.Credit…Peter Flude for The New York Times

The 411’s stock market nights are part of a rise in what some call “competitive socializing,” where games take center stage at bars across the British capital. Hospitality experts say the industry took off about five years ago, but it took a hit during punishing coronavirus lockdowns. As lockdowns eased and groups of work friends sought out new ways to socialize, the sector exploded.

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