New Year’s Eve: Where to go when you want to try something new

December 19, 2013

It’s nice to have New Year’s Eve traditions, such as getting together with the same friends every year to toast your lives with a fizzy glass. Clubs tend to be the same way: Many venues have certain performers they invite to ring in the new year after new year.

At some point, though, it can feel like you’re stuck in a rut.


The bar at 2 Birds, 1 Stone will be open as usual on New Year's Eve, with a special menu of sparkling cocktails. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

I wonder if the new year would be able to arrive if, at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, Peaches O’Dell and Her Orchestra weren’t “Sing, Sing, Sing”-ing onstage at the Black Cat, the Legwarmers weren’t jamming ’80s tunes at the State Theatre and Monty Alexander wasn’t swinging at Blues Alley. Would we stay locked in a “Groundhog Day”-esque time loop where it’s 2013 forever? (Don’t answer that.)

Resolve to make this the year you try something new and exciting. I’ve put together a list of New Year’s Eve experiences you haven’t had , because they all take place at venues that opened or reopened this year. They range from low-key nights at brewpubs to big-ticket evenings at dance clubs, but they’ll all offer an experience different than whatever you did to say farewell to 2012.

2 Birds 1 Stone
1800 14th St. NW (entrance on S St.). www.2birds1stonedc.com.
Adam Bernbach’s charming basement cocktail bar around the corner from Doi Moi will open at 6 p.m. as usual, with no cover charge or reservations taken. The bartender is working up a special cocktail menu for the night that revolves around sparkling wine and champagne. One of his favorites, he says, is a variation on the Blue Train Special, with champagne, cognac and a house-made pineapple syrup. Since the occasion’s a little more formal than usual, the evening’s soundtrack will be jazz instead of lo-fi indie and hip-hop.

Avery's Bar and Lounge
1370 H St. NE. 202-430-9209.
This neighborhood bar was one of the coolest additions to H Street NE in 2013 – especially the views from the rooftop deck. On New Year's Eve, Avery's offers an open bar from 10 to 11 p.m., and free appetizers from 10 to 11:30. A DJ will spin on both floors. Tickets are $30 before Dec. 24, then $40 through Dec. 29. Table specials are also available: $800 gets admission for eight, one bottle of liquor and three bottles of champagne; the $1000 "Gold" option offers admission for 10, two bottles of liquor and three bottles of champagne.

Bar Charley
1825 18th St. NW. 202-627-2183.
Aside from adding surf and turf options to the menu, it’s business as usual at the Dupont Circle bar, starting with the usual happy hour ($2 off beers and draft tiki cocktails from 4 to 6:30 p.m.) and celebrating with no cover charge.

Barmini
855 E St. NW. 202-393-4451. www.minibarbyjoseandres.com.
The wildly inventive cocktail bar – the liquid-focused division of Jose Andres's acclaimed Minibar – will mix pre-Prohibition classics and 21st-century concoctions at its party, which includes snacks (iberico ham tacos topped with caviar, sea urchin deviled eggs) and dancing to a DJ. The fun lasts from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.; tickets are $275, including tax and gratuity. E-mail barmini@minibarbyjoseandres.com for reservations.

Bluejacket
300 Tingey St. SE. 202-524-4862.
www.bluejacketdc.com
.

If you haven’t tried all of the 25 beers at the Navy Yard brewery and restaurant, this might be the night to do it: The $160 ticket includes unlimited drafts and casks, a limited number of wines and spirits, a midnight toast and passed food from the Arsenal. Beyond the refreshments, there will be a DJ spinning party music, a photo booth and a midnight keg drop.

Bracket Room
1210 N. Garfield St., Arlington. 703-276-7337. www.bracketroom.com.
Looking for a bargain in Clarendon on New Year's Eve? The "flirty or dirty" sports bar isn't charging for admission, and bottles of champagne will sell for $14 in honor of 2014. Midnight brings a free glass of bubbly, passed hors d'oeuvres and "a special surprise" for everyone in the building, according to partner Nicole Pettitt.

Brickside
4866 Cordell Ave., Bethesda. 301-312-6160. www.bricksidebethesda.com.
The speakeasy-ish Bethesda restaurant and tavern will be open with no cover charge. A buffet of bar bites (such as calamari and risotto) starts at 9 p.m., and everyone receives a glass of champagne for the midnight toast. Entertainment comes from a DJ playing Top 40 hits.

Copperwood Tavern
4021 Campbell Ave., Arlington. 703-552-8010.
www.copperwoodtavern.com
.

The boubon-and-moonshine-themed Shirlington restaurant, from the owners of D.C.'s Irish Whiskey, will offer a four-course meal for $59 but will keep its bar open as usual with the full menu available a la carte. Everyone in the house gets a glass of sparkling wine at midnight.

Eat the Rich
1839 Seventh St. NW. 202-316-9396.
Oysters and champagne sounds like a luxe way to welcome 2014. The Shaw oyster bar plans to offer a special — but not prix fixe — menu with lobster, scallop and oyster dishes, plus specials on champagne and sparkling wine. Everyone receives a free glass of bubbly at midnight.

Echostage
2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE. 202-503-2330.
www.echostage.com
.

While Echostage officially opened in 2012, it closed after New Year’s Eve and re-emerged in March featuring a shiny new look with a stellar soundsystem and laser show. The crown jewel of the city’s big dance clubs is hosting Swedish DJ Eric Prydz, who remains one of the biggest house and techno producers in the world because of his work under numerous aliases, including Pryda and Cirez D. Matt Goldman opens the night. $60.

Mari Vanna
1141 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-783-7777. www.marivanna.ru/washington.
Mari Vanna’s set-price menu includes an entree, Russian appetizers and desserts served family-style, and a half-bottle of champagne per person. Prices range from $150 to $215, depending on whether you want caviar or fancier champagne; choose a bar stool instead of a table and the price drops to $100. Entertainment includes music by the house accordionist and visits from Santa Claus and a snow maiden. (Christmas in Russia, after all, isn’t celebrated until Jan. 7.) A DJ starts spinning in the upstairs lounge at midnight. If you don’t have dinner reservations, you can’t enter until 1 a.m., but the lounge will keep music and drinks going until 4 a.m.

Mockingbird Hill
1843 Seventh St. NW. 202-316-9396. www.drinkmoresherry.com.
The Shaw ham-and-sherry bar is embracing its Spanish side with flamenco dancers and a midnight grape-eating contest (in lieu of the traditional dozen grapes at midnight). Specials on sherry and Madrid’s Mahou beer will be offered all night, and there will be a free cava toast as the clock strikes 12.

Redrocks (H Street)
1348 H St. NE. 202-621-7300. www.redrocksdc.com.
The first floor of the Atlas District pizza restaurant will be open for regular service, but the upper floors — including the rooftop deck — will take on a 1920s vibe for “A Beautiful Fool’s New Year’s Eve.” (Spot the literary reference.) DJs Sharkey, Tigerbeat and Skim will spin everything from club bangers to hip-hop anthems. Save $5 off the $15 admission if you dress in a 1920s “Great Gatsby” or “Boardwalk Empire”-style costume.

Right Proper
624 T St. NW. 202-607-2337. www.rightproperbrewery.com.
The brand-new Shaw brewpub is just “going to do what we do,” says co-owner Thor Cheston, which means serving house-made ales for the affordable price of $4 to $6. Doors open at 5 p.m.; no reservations are taken.

Showtime
113 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
Known for cheap drinks and great jukebox, the Bloomingdale lounge is keeping things low-key. Owner Paul Vivari (DJ Soul Call Paul from Black Cat and Velvet Lounge) will spin his favorite old-school soul, R&B and blues tunes from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. with no cover. Everyone gets a glass of sparkling wine at midnight.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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Margaret Ely · December 19, 2013