Some of your friends and co-workers take the lyrics of “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve” far too seriously. They started planning weeks ago, already have an outfit picked out, and purchased tickets for a big party early enough to get the discount “Early Bird” price.
If you haven’t given much thought to New Year’s Eve, don’t worry — you can still have a fun and memorable night, even if you don’t start thinking about it until the day the ball drops. Make a date, call your friends and head to one of these no-planning-necessary events.
Anxo: The upstairs room at the original Anxo in Truxton Circle features a $50 open bar from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., but the downstairs bar serves ciders, craft beers and Spanish wines and snacks without a cover charge all night. Karaoke begins at 11 p.m., and everyone receives a free glass of cava at midnight. (PS: The Brightwood Park cidery and bar is closed for the night.)
Bier Baron: Capital Laughs, which organizes weekly comedy showcases at Cafe Saint-Ex and Shaw’s Tavern, is hosting a special edition of its regular Monday night Comedy Shuffle in the Bier Baron’s basement in Dupont Circle. If you resolved to try standup in 2018, this is probably your last shot.
Boundary Stone: Happy hour is doubled at the Bloomingdale bar, with $4 DC Brau beers, $6 wine, $3 snacks and $7 sandwiches from 4 to 10 p.m. Reed Appleseed, the host of Boundary Stone’s weekly open mic night, and his band perform beginning at 10:30 p.m.
Breadsoda: Glover Park’s favorite game room offers free play on its darts, shuffleboard and pool tables after 8 p.m. Board games will also be available for groups. Hip-hop and soul DJs play all night, and there’s a free midnight toast.
Calico: The most low-key spot in bustling Blagden Alley is serving French bread pizzas and its house cocktails, including adult juice boxes, on New Year’s Eve. Take a turn at karaoke, play board games, or just hang on the patio with a hot toddy, beginning at 8 p.m. Midnight brings a toast with the Champagne of Beers.
The Dubliner: If you believe New Year’s Eve should be just another night at the pub, head for the Dubliner. The venerable Irish pub near Union Station celebrates with a performance by Brendan’s Voyage — a trio of Irish natives who’ve become fixtures in D.C. area bars — and a midnight toast.
EatBar: Everything is retro at EatBar’s Low-Key New Year’s Eve: Chef Nate Anda has prepared a menu featuring pepperoni hot pockets, corn dogs and other childhood favorites. “Mario Kart” and “Street Fighter 2” are among the Super Nintendo games that can be played on the TV. The free jukebox is stocked with ’80s and ’90s hits. The difference: You’re old enough to drink this time, whether it’s the bar’s $25 bottomless bubbly or the usual menu of a la carte craft beers and cocktails. Doors open at 4 p.m., so you can stop by the Barracks Row bar for a drink and video games before heading off to another event.
Eighteenth Street Lounge: The landmark Eighteenth Street Lounge continues to deliver on New Year’s Eve. DJ Smudge and Neil Payne drop a house-party mix of hip-hop, funk and old-school; Mr. Bonkerz throws a disco party on the patio; I&I Vibration takes care of reggae and dance hall; and John Eamon plays a wide-ranging mix based around hip-hop and R&B. Admission is $10, beginning at 9 p.m.
Espita: You might expect Espita to have a fancy prix fixe menu on New Year’s Eve, but D.C.'s best mezcal bar is open as usual. “A Night With Frida and Diego” is the theme, so flower crowns and other Kahlo-inspired outfits are welcome. Expect mezcal cocktail specials, a midnight toast and DJ Kim of the Kicks! (Black Cat) and Pow Wow (Rock and Roll Hotel) dance parties.
Green Zone: One of Adams Morgan’s brightest new additions celebrates the New Year with an appearance by DJ Muath — Syrian musician Muath Edriss — spinning dabke, rai, chobi and other Middle Eastern dance music while bartenders sling arak, seasonal spiced cocktails and French champagne, beginning at 5 p.m.
Jack Rose: Jack Rose has paid options on New Year’s Eve — an all-you-can-eat-and-drink feast on the roof from 5 to 8 p.m., a $125 cocktail party in the basement Dram and Grain space — but the main “saloon” room is no cover all night. It starts with happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m., followed by an a la carte menu of food and vintage cocktails. Whiskey lovers can dive into tasting flights of the year’s best new releases or sample special bottles picked by the staff.
Jackie Lee’s: The old-school Brightwood Park bar is keeping things low-key. Happy hour is extended from 5 to 9 p.m., and bottles of sparkling wine are $20 until last call. After the complimentary midnight toast, there’s free late-night pizza with even more drinks.
McClellan’s Retreat: The dark, quiet Kalorama cocktail spot offers its regular cocktail menu — currently focused on wintry flavors, including a few hot drinks — with the addition of a midnight Champagne of Beers toast. Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Passenger: Who knows music better than people who run a record store? Neal and Vince from Som Records provide the soundtrack for a dance party in the Passenger’s upstairs room, while both floors of the Shaw standout will have a special cocktail menu and offer a midnight toast.
Pitchers and A League of Her Own: The “2018: Thank U, Next” party is spread across all four floors of this Adams Morgan gay and lesbian bar, with DJ Electrox on the main dance floor. Admission is free, but the A League of Her Own bar will be collecting money for the TAGG Scholarship Fund, which assists LGBTQ students. Make a donation and get a free glass of champagne at midnight.
Red Derby: The long-running “Decades of Decadence” New Year’s Eve celebration at this Petworth bar is again two parties in one: Expect funky 1970s tunes and Disco Lemonade cocktails on the rooftop deck, and 1990s pop, hip-hop and grunge with drink specials on the ground floor. (Party hats, noisemakers and a free midnight toast are found on both levels.) The kitchen has created a suitably retro five-course tasting menu — tater tot fondue and pigs in a blanket! — for $30 per person.
Showtime: The “No Cover New Year’s Eve Spectacular” kicks off with a performance by house band Granny and the Boys at 7:30 p.m., and a rotating cast of DJs provides soulful tunes from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. A “free Cham-pipple toast” is promised at midnight.
Trade: “New Queers' Eve” at the 14th Street gay bar includes performances by BratWorst, Geneva Confectionn, Logan Stone and Jasmine Tea, while DJs Wess and Baronhawk Poitier handle the music. “A few more surprise countdowns” will follow the traditional midnight toast. The party begins at 10 p.m.
U Street Music Hall: Unlike most of the events on this list, U Street Music Hall charges a cover on New Year’s Eve. Since no advance tickets are sold, however, anyone who wants to see DJs Will Eastman, Ken Lazee, Rawle Night Long, Ozker and Kundalini spin from 10 p.m. until the wee hours of Jan. 1 can just show up and pay $12 at the door.