New Year’s Eve is one of my least favorite days of the year. It’s not that I hate “Auld Lang Syne” or celebratory champagne. It’s the long lines. And the $100 parties with five hours of open (bottom-shelf) bar with falling-down drunks trying to get their money’s worth.
There’s also the crushing pressure to have the best night ever. You can feel it in the air, you can see it in the way people get frustrated when bartenders don’t move quickly enough. I’ve been to black-tie galas, $150 soirees at fancy cocktail lounges and $75 parties at glorified dive bars, and I remain convinced that the best way to handle New Year’s Eve is to spend the night hanging out with friends and making it a low-key affair.
I’m not the only one.
As the bar DC Reynolds prepares to celebrate its first New Year’s Eve on Georgia Avenue, co-owner Jeremy Gifford turned to friends who run the Boundary Stone and Rustik Tavern bars in Bloomingdale for advice. “They say it’s just a good neighborhood night,” Gifford says. “They don’t advertise, they don’t have a cover charge and the crowd doesn’t have to mess with cabs or Ubers.”
That’s why Gifford says DC Reynolds — and a good number of its neighbors — will be keeping things low key on New Year’s Eve. “We’ll just open and do a toast at midnight,” he says. “The jukebox will be cranking. It’s catering to the people in the neighborhood. The people we see on a daily basis just want us to be open.”
Besides, he adds, “the economy isn’t that great, so I don’t think people want to go out and spend $150 on a cover band and [bad] beer.”
I agree completely. That’s why we put together this list of bars and restaurants that don’t bother with cover charges or tickets on New Year’s Eve . Some have food or drink specials — two-for-one oysters at Pearl Dive all night! — and others have optional open bars, but none of them require you to make a big deal out of the night.