New Year’s Eve is a night of grand expectations, especially for those of us who have been swept off our feet by movies like When Harry Met Sally. Hollywood makes perfect the one night a year when we ceremoniously bid the past 365 days adieu. NYE should be dedicated to sending off the old year and ringing in the new surrounded by good friends, a curated flow of danceable music and, of course, champagne fountains.
Well, maybe that’s just my fantasy as crafted by the clever mind of Nora Ephron, may she rest in peace. Maybe your perfect New Year’s Eve involves a ball drop, delicious meal or crazy costumes. No matter how you like it, this night of nights has a way of becoming more complicated than it should be.
The perfect New Year’s Eve takes planning, but thankfully we live in a city that provides something exciting to do for everyone. I’ve put together a list to get you started.
New Year’s Eve in Courses: Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too
Sala & Betty
The Airport Boulevard eatery known for gourmet sit-down and drive-thru fare is offering a three-course special menu for New Year’s Eve. As always, Sala & Betty’s delicate creations come with a twist. From salmon to caraway toast, from quail with kale to peppermint brûlée, the planned menu sounds superb. What’s better? You don’t have to drive into the craze of downtown to devour it!
5201 Airport Blvd.
For reservations, call (512) 645-0214
Finn & Porter
For a dining experience on the slightly more elegant side, head to Finn & Porter at Hilton Downtown. The hotel might not be local, but the restaurant is. Chef Peter Maffei has some tricks up his sleeve for this four-course delight. Grilled octopus, coffee rubbed venison and goat cheese cheese cake, oh my! To top it all off, there’s a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. So grab your sweetie, throw on your loveliest garb and hire an Uber because your elegant night on the town is calling. Reservations are strongly recommended!
500 E. 4th St.
Dinner, Black Tie Not Required
Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
If the New Year’s Eve of your dreams is a big ole’ sausage fest, then high tail it to Banger’s for their No Cover New Year’s Eve. Starting at 5 p.m., the Rainey Street favorite will serve a special menu that includes prime rib, swiss chard and bacon potato gratin, plus additional goodies like butter poached lobster sausage. Sounds like a bang up job to me. Them Duqaines and Teddy Long will keep the party bumping with tunes until midnight. All guests will say out with the old and in with the new over pony bottles of Miller High Life. Cheers to the “Champagne of Beers,” and to brats and brews for all!
79 Rainey St.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be brimming with happiness, and perhaps with sugary delights, then Gourdough’s has one important question for you: drinks, music and warm holes…what more could you want? The newest location of the classic doughnut pub is hosting a night of music, hors d’ouevers, drinks and, of course, doughnuts! Get your tickets while they’re still hot.
209 W. 5th St.
Music to Keep the Party Going All Night Long
The bar that looks old-fashioned, but has a modern take on all things sip-able, will entertain guests with the rhythmic spins of DJ Manny, a member of the Peligrosa empire. Drink specials, party favors and champagne toasts will be made even better with fresh beats and no cover charge! Both bars will be open, but Whisler’s is sure to get packed, so don’t be too fashionably late.
1816 E. 6th St.
The Mohawk, Featuring Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce
Get ready to dance the night away at The Mohawk with Big Freedia, a New Orleans rapper who is known for bounce music and her twerking dance moves. Put on your dancing shoes and booty shorts, and dance your way into 2016!
912 Red River St.
Empire Control Room: Rock the MotherSIP
If you can’t decide on a specific soundtrack for the end of your year, then head to Empire Control Room & Garage. There will be performances from MotherSIP (Mother Falcon+SIP SIP), Holiday Montain, CAPYAC, Slomo Drags, Body Rock ATX and Peligrosa. What’s even crazier is that Empire offers a ticket that will give you access to an open bar all night! That’s hundreds of libation combinations and multiple genres of local music to bop to, as you ring in 2016. Plus, food provided by Tyson’s Tacos!
606 E. 7th St.
Don’t Mess Up, Dress Up!
Justine’s Central Park New Year’s Eve
Put on your shoes and and tipitty tap down to the eastside. You’ll be transported to the fabulous jazz era of New York City in the 50’s and 60’s. Justine’s will be decked out to look like Central Park. New York bites like hot dogs and clam chowder, as well as a lobster prix fixe meal, will wash down your Manhattans and champagne. Jazz, soul and R&B will be spun by DJ I Wanna Be Her. And because Justine’s knows that if there’s no picture, it didn’t happen, a photographer will be there to capture your flashy night!
Take it from me. I went to the Gilded NYE Party at Justine’s last year, and it was an experience not to be missed. All the weirdness and amazingness of Austin, wrapped in a sparkly and champagne-filled package!
4710 E. 5th St.
Highland Cirque Noire
New Year’s….Still Keepin’ It Weird
Casino Night at The Goodnight
Leave the kids at home and party like you’re in grade school again. This time, you’re old enough to drink. A ticket to The Goodnight’s NYE party gets you unlimited bowling and table games, appetizers, a champagne toast and $5,000 worth of chips to play casino games. On top of that, every guest will be entered into a raffle for a two-night stay in Vegas, including airfare! et your tickets while they’re still available.
2700 W. Anderson Lane
Sing Along at Alamo Drafthouse
If you’ve never been to Alamo Drafthouse for a theme night, this is the one to go to! No worries about dancing too enthusiastically, or wearing the same dress as someone else. Sing the year away with 2015’s chart-topping music videos. The experience is complete with a commemorative champagne glass.
320 E. 6th St.
Totally Awesome 80’s New Year’s Eve Bash at Austin Roller Rink
For this rockin’ and rollin’ bash on eight wheels, pull your favorite party garb from the 80’s out of the closet. We all know you kept a few Spandex and bedazzled items. The third annual Austin Roller Rink bash boasts roller skating, unlimited trips to the photo booth to capture your evening in a funky vintage way, balloon drop, champagne toast, karaoke, and costume contest!
1160 Manchaca Road, Ste. 101
If You’re Busy, But Can’t Help Yourself
Craftsman SINful NYE Pre-party
We couldn’t have New Year’s Eve parties without people to work them, right? Craftsman has kindly taken that problem into their own hands. Bartenders, servers and anyone else in the service industry (I think this should include babysitters), unite! Celebrate New Year’s Eve on Dec. 28 at Craftsman! There will be music from Henry + The Invisibles, drink specials and the all-important midnight balloon drop and champagne toast! If you’re working the actual night, head on over to Craftsman this year. New Year’s Eve may come early for you, but you can decide when you want to start on your New Year’s resolutions.
Bonus: Morning After
Even if your New Year’s Eve doesn’t go exactly as planned, Austin has your back! Check out your favorite restaurants to see if they have brunch, a sure-fire way to start the year off right, or at least wipe the slate clean if your night before got a little wild. If you want to shake it up a little more, check out what else New Year’s Day has in store for you.
Rogue Running Black Eyed Pea Run
Star your year off with good luck and good exercise. Courses will be set up for 4-16 miles. At the end, you can celebrate with free black eyed peas and mimosas!
410 Pressler St.
Barton Springs Polar Bear Splash
Join hundreds of others at 10 a.m. on New Year’s Day, as they shed their coats and start the year fresh with a quick plunge into Barton Springs. Proceeds from much-needed coffee, doughnuts and commemorative t-shirts will support Save Our Springs Foundation.
2201 Barton Springs Road
New Year’s Day Hangover Hangout
If you just want to relax, head over to the Hotel San Jose lounge. There will be free coffee, drink specials and the best hangover nibbles.
1316 S. Congress Ave.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What’s your favorite NYE tradition? Any parties we should know about?