A guide for New Year’s Eve procrastinators

December 24, 2013

Still haven't made New Year's Eve plans? Never fear: We've put together a guide for procrastinators, organized by the type of party you're looking for.

Please note: Some prices are subject to change, and events will sell out.

Chantal Tseng
Chantal Tseng of Mockingbird Hill will whip up special sherry cocktails on New Year's Eve. (Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post)

I want fancy cocktails.
The Gibson has an open-bar USO-themed party with $150 tickets, a World War II vibe and ...

Sorry. I want fancy cocktails, but I don't want to pay that much of a cover charge.
Gotcha. PX and Bar TNT are open as normal, and TNT will have $4 punches all night. 2 Birds 1 Stone, Iron Gate, Bar Charley, Bar Pilar, Mockingbird Hill, Bourbon Steak and Hank's on the Hill will all be open with cover charges on the usual first-come, first-served basis.

In Silver Spring, Sidebar is open as usual, with free hors d'oeuvres, but you can also buy an advance ticket for $50 that allows unlimited drinks and, more importantly, guarantees a seat.

The Passenger and Hogo will be open as usual until 9 p.m. After that, you'll pay $10 to get into a joint "Block Party" afterwards that offers '80s music in the Warehouse Theatre space, late-night tacos, a champagne toast and a la carte cocktails.

I prefer beer. Where should I go?
D.C.'s beer bars have big plans for New Year's Eve, no matter your price point. Meridian Pint is bringing back its "Old and Sour" theme, with 10 vintage ales on draft, including a 2010 keg of Avery's Mephistopheles' Stout, and a 2011 Firestone Walker Parabola, and 10 funky sour ales. (The full list is here.) Sister bar Smoke and Barrel plans to tap 13 "dark and delicious drafts," predominantly dark ales and stouts aged in bourbon or wine barrels. As a bonus, the bar offers its usual Taco Tuesday deal, with $5 taco platters all night.

For bigger spenders, consider ChurchKey or Bluejacket. Either ticket will set you back $160, and includes unlimited beer (55 drafts at ChurchKey, 25 house-brewed beers at Bluejacket), passed hors d'oeuvres and a midnight toast. Space is limited; click to see the beer lists and buy tickets for ChurchKey or Bluejacket.

Dogfish Head Alehouse is hosting five-course beer dinners in Falls Church and Gaithersburg with seatings from 7 to 9 p.m. ($55) and 10 p.m. to midnight ($65). The latter seating includes a toast of vintage Dogfish Head beer at midnight.

I'd like to play games – skee-ball, shuffleboard – with my friends.

H St. Country Club
Mini-golf and an open bar are included in tickets for H Street Country Club's New Years Eve celebration. (Evy Mages for The Washington Post)

Penn Social, home to skee-ball lanes, shuffleboard, indoor corn hole and giant Connect Four and Jenga sets, is hosting a party that combines the usual DJs and dancing with Pop-A-Shot, corn hole and skee-ball tournaments. The $30 ticket includes one drink ticket.

Tickets to H Street Country Club's party ($69 in advance, $85 at the door) include mini-golf as well as five hours of open bar, plus access to their shuffleboard and skee-ball games.

Buffalo Billards will be open as usual, so you can choose from pool, darts, ping-pong, shuffleboard, foosball and skee-ball, and just pay the usual hourly or per-game rates.

I want to hear live music.
We've covered this in a separate post at the beginning of December. Some of the much-touted events are now sold out, such as Trombone Shorty at the 9:30 club and the Legwarmers at the State Theatre, but tickets for others remain, including Carl Thomas and Angela Winbush at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda, Musiq Soulchild at the Howard Theatre, U.S. Royalty at the Sphinx Club and Dr. John and Wanda Jackson at the Hamilton.

I want a party with a theme.
The Brixton takes its inspiration for its "psychedelic evening of visual stimulation" from Alice in Wonderland, with burlesque dancers (from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.) and DJs. Guests are asked to wear "the craziest thing in [their] closet." The $20 ticket (in advance) includes snacks.

"Old Hollywood" is the motto for the Red Derby's Silver Screen New Year's Eve Ball, so wear your finest cocktail attire for the black-and-white photo booth. (Retro champagne cocktails are $4 all night.) DJs will play big band and Rat Pack tunes from 5 p.m. to midnight, followed party-friendly music until last call. There's no cover charge.

Have a vintage military uniform? The Gibson's "Calling All Troops" party has a retro USO theme, including burlesque performances and vintage cocktails. The $150 tickets include an open bar, food, tax and tip, and a portion of proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

The European professionals group Euronet International is bringing its James Bond-themed Thunderball party back to the Washington Plaza Hotel. There are numerous rooms meant to evoke 007, including mock casino gambling in "Monte Carlo," Latin and Reggae music and tropical cocktails in the "Dr. No" room, and Middle Eastern music and a Mediterranean buffet in the "From Russia With Love"-inspired "Istanbul" ballroom. Throw in an open bar, food stations, bands, an optional singles mixer and roaming Bond villians, and you'll want to make sure you're wearing a tux or favorite Bond Girl cocktail dress. $135-$218.

Dogfish Head Alehouse in Fairfax hosts a masquerade cocktail party with full dinner buffets and your choice of five beers, plus a midnight toast. (Why they'd call it a cocktail party with all the beer available isn't clear.) Tickets are $100 including tax and tip.

I'm bringing the kids.

Rocknoceros lets the kids celebrate New Year's Eve early at Jammin' Java. (Courtesy of Rocknoceros)
Rocknoceros lets the kids celebrate New Year's Eve early at Jammin' Java. (Courtesy of Rocknoceros)

The town-wide First Night celebrations in Annapolis and Old Town Alexandria provide a mix of live music, storytelling, puppets, sing-alongs, crafts and history tours at a number of different venues, capped by fireworks. (Annapolis even offers two sets of fireworks, at 7:30 p.m. and midnight, in case younger participants get sleepy.) Admission to Old Town's party is $20 for everyone 13 and older, and free for members of the military and those 12 and younger. Annapolis's party is free for all, as is parking throughout downtown.

If you don't want to keep the kids up late, family entertainers Rocknoceros are performing two New Year's Eve day shows at Jammin Java: one at 11 a.m. and another at 2 p.m. And who doesn't love an apple juice toast?

I just want to dance.
This is one of the biggest nights of the year for dancing. Here's a rundown of some of our favorites – and don't forget to check our previously published "New Year's Eve at places that opened in 2013" list for details about dance parties at Avery's, Redrocks and Mari Vanna, and the huge Echostage appearance by Eric Prydz.

DJ Jahsonic, whose deft selections of old-school funk, hip-hop and soul have earned him a legion of fans at Marvin's weekly Main Ingredient Mondays, is back on the turntables for a special night upstairs at Marvin. Tickets are $10 in advance or $20 at the door.

By now, you should know what to expect from a Brightest Young Things New Year's Eve party. Beyond a slew of the city's top DJs, there will be all kinds of distractions ranging from balloon artists to art installations to magic shows. (And a photobooth. There's always a photobooth.) This year's throwdown, at the new Blind Whino art space in Southwest, features music by some very familiar names, including Stereo Faith, Adrian Loving, Chris Burns, Smudge and Lil' E, which means you'll get your fill of retro, electro, Britpop and house. Tickets are currently $94, and include food and drink, though prices may rise.

Nadastrom
Matt Nordstrom (left) and Dave Nada are the two-headed Moombahton beast known as Nadastrom. (Photo by Bret Hartman For The Washington Post)

We expect Nadastrom's New Year's Eve fiesta at U Street Music Hall to be one of the toughest parties to get into, simply because they're not selling advance tickets. The moombahton trailblazers are joined by Gents & Jawns and Jen Lasher. Doors open at 9 p.m.

A strong lineup of local DJs, including Chris Nitti, Rex Riot, Phillip Goyette and Denman, takes over two full floors of the Rock and Roll Hotel, while the rooftop deck features a "silent disco" where the crowd dons headphones to listen to a pair of DJs battle. Tickets for the Eighth Annual NYE Blowout -- $80 now, $100 at the door -- include an all-night open bar.

One of the city's largest New Year's Eve parties finds Ed Bailey and Shea Van Horn (of Mixtape) on the decks at on the main level of Town Danceboutique, while VJ Wess provides a countdown of 2013's hottest tracks and videos downstairs. As always, the evening starts at 9:30 p.m. with a drag queen revue hosted by Lena Lett. Tickets are $20 in advance, and offer priority admission.

Cuba Libre's Carnaval de Havana finds DJs spinning salsa, merengue, bachata and house until 4 a.m., with entertainment from percussionists and a floor show by professional salsa dancers. Tickets are $35 in advance, which  includes a glass of champagne; an optional $100 ticket includes unlimited drinks from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Bar 7's "Aristocratic NYE" starts with an open bar and passed hors d'oeuvres from 8 to 11 p.m., with DJs Money and Fyah Oats and host Black Cobain offer hip-hop all night. General admission tickets are $25 in advance – great value for three hours of free drinks – and $40 at the door. Bottle service on the main level starts at $600 for six people.

Cobalt bills this year as "the biggest New Year's Eve party in the history" of the club, with American Idol runner-up Blake Lewis DJing, drag performances by Vicky Vox and "RuPaul's Drag Race" contestants Willam and Detox, and a retro DJ lounge with Keenan Orr. Tickets are a flat $20.

Well known '80s and '90s cover band Gonzo's Nose is a fixture at Clarendon New Year's Eve parties. This time around, they're at Clarendon Grill, where tickets include free appetizers, three drink tickets and a midnight toast.

Finally, Flash will have DJs running for 16 straight hours, beginning at 8 p.m. The DJs rotating on and off include Thugf----r, Francis Harris (aka Adultnapper), Sergio Santos, Navbox, Jubilee and Chris Nitti. Multiple champagne toasts are promised. While the dance floor will keep going nonstop, the bar will close at 4 a.m. and reopen at 8 p.m., while a Grey Goose and Oxley gin happy hour starts at 9 a.m. (Yes, you're allowed to leave the party and come back.)  Tickets cost $30 in advance, and $40 at the door.

Fritz Hahn has written about 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. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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