Chances are, you’re as eager to end 2017 as the next gay. Yet it’s worth taking a little extra time to determine how — and where — you want to ring in 2018.
A festive yet temperate approach would be to grab a sensible dinner and coast with bubbly until midnight. You can do just that at the Beacon Bar & Grill (202-872-1126, bbgwdc.com), which starts New Year’s Eve with four courses and then keeps going, with dancing to crowd-pleasing tunes by DJ John and unlimited champagne all night ($67.50). Petworth’s Taqueria del Barrio (202-723-0200, taqueriadelbarrio.com) offers an especially affordable pre-game dining option: from 4 to 7:30 p.m., you can savor a prix fixe menu along with a bottle of sparkling white or rose wine ($75 for two).
Penn Quarter’s Cuba Libre (202-408-1600, cubalibrerestaurant.com) also starts the evening early, with tapas served at 4:30 p.m. Yet for those who prefer to dine and dance in the same spot, wait until after 9 p.m. and make a reservation for a five-course Cuban meal and a reserved spot as edible salsa makes way for dancing salsa ($119). For a more French affair, Le DeSales (202-506-6856, ledesales.com), down the alley from the Mayflower Hotel, offers three- and four-course prix fixe menus from chef Raphael Francois (New York’s Le Cirque). Better still, diners can indulge in an additional course: complimentary entry to the swanky Eighteenth Street Lounge nearby ($60 to $75).
Across the river, you’ll find reasonably priced French fare prepared by a classically trained French chef, this time in a resort setting. At Brabo (703-894-3440, braborestaurant.com) in Old Town’s Kimpton Lorien Hotel, Sebastien Rondier whips up a five-course indulgence, ending with a midnight champagne toast, mais oui ($95).
If you’re seeking a bit more fully fueled fun, the restaurant Urbana (202-956-6650, urbanadc.com) in Dupont Circle’s Hotel Palomar offers an all-you-can-drink option from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. ($50). A few blocks away, City Tap Dupont (202-878-8235, dupont.citytap.com) transforms into a ski lodge with fake snow and shot skis — with a limited dinner menu and open bar from 9 to midnight ($60). Speaking of open bars, there’s a bevy of all-inclusive options around town that also include food. In Adams Morgan, Roofers Union (202-232-7663, roofersuniondc.com) will pour 10 local draft beers, select wines, and premium spirits from 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., with a late-night buffet from chef Jenn Flynn and live music by Jonny Grave & the Tombstones ($99). The drinking starts at 9 p.m. at Sixth Engine (202-506-2455, sixthengine.com) in NoMa, with premium top-shelf cocktail options, a “full gourmet food spread” from Kyle Bailey, the original chef at Birch & Barley and ChurchKey, and dancing to DJ TBD until 2 a.m. ($100 to $125). At Town Hall (202-333-5640, townhalldc.com) in Glover Park, the premium booze will be free-flowing till 3 a.m. along with a Gourmet Holiday Buffet ($130).
If, by this time, you’re ready to gay it up, Green Lantern (202-347-4533, greenlanterndc.com) offers a party hosted by 495 Bears and featuring DJ Jeff Eletto, plus a “stuffed bear drop” at midnight ($5 cover). A few blocks up 14th Street, DJs Aaron Riggins and Kris Sutton will spin a New Queer’s Eve party at Trade (202-986-1094, tradebardc.com, no cover). A block up and over from there, Number Nine (202-986-0999, numberninedc.com) serves its usual 2-for-1 happy hour prices from 5 to 9 p.m. and DJ Chord spins in the new year (no cover). On 17th Street, you can have your shot at winning cash or drink tickets with the traditional midnight balloon drop at JR.’s (202-328-0900, jrsbar-dc.com, no cover). Or dance the night away with the “Yassss Queen!!” party at Cobalt (202-232-4416, cobaltdc.com) with DJs Drew G and Letrero ($10, or $50 for “Prime Ministered” with call open bar, or $100 for the “Royal Treatment” top shelf open bar).
Over to Shaw, the Dirty Goose (202-629-1462, thedirtygoose.com) will start the day with a Bottomless Party Brunch with DJ Farrah Flosscett from 1 to 4 p.m. — but stick around and drink half-priced champagne until close ($35 for the brunch, no cover in the evening). Across the street Nellie’s (202-332-6355, nelliessportsbar.com) has its queens doing brunch for days — both Sunday and Monday — but in between, the colorful corner spot presents its popular DJs, Lemz and Vodkatrina, tag-teaming the turntables as the calendar turns to 2018 (no cover). Across the river in Crystal City, Freddie’s Beach Bar (703-685-0555, freddiesbeachbar.com) also has its drag queens bookending the holiday with Champagne Brunches, but the centerpiece is a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza with drag show and karaoke throughout the night ($35 cover).
There’s still more drag at Town (202-234-8696, towndc.com) which will usher in its final year with Trixie Mattel joining the Ladies of Town in an early evening drag show at 9:30 p.m. That’s followed by dancing to DJ Wess downstairs and Ed Bailey and gay club sensation Joe Gauthreaux upstairs ($35 for admission with drag show, $25 for post-drag show at 11 p.m.). A few blocks away, Uproar (202-462-4464, facebook.com/uproarloungedc) presents its popular DJs Mike Babbitt and Matt Pierce pairing up for an especially woofy way to ring in the new year (no cover).
To make an easy excursion out of town, the Baltimore Eagle (410-200-9858, thebaltimoreeagle.com) will celebrate its high-flying revival by staying open for 38 hours “straight,” starting at noon on Saturday, Dec. 31, with Queens Who Brunch, and including two nights of dancing until sunrise with DJs Kuhmeleon, Ryan Doubleyou, Vince Christopher, and Scott Howard. Oh, and a performance by singer Charvoni and ’90s-era hitmakers Black Box (“Everybody, Everybody,” “Ride On Time”) ($30 including an Appetizer Buffet at 2 a.m., or $100 for VIP seating, Open Bar from 9 to 11 p.m., and a Grand Buffet).
At the other area fetish preserve named after the national bird, the DC Eagle (202-347-6025, dceagle.com) hosts the popular DistrktC party with veteran star club DJ Tony Moran ushering in 2018’s first sunrise.($50 to $75). Also on the eastern edge of town, D.C.’s reigning drag queen Ella Fitzgerald is the chief draw at Ziegfeld’s (202-863-0607, ziegfelds.com), though, of course, the huge venue has a full roster of “Ladies of Illusion” working starting at 10:30 p.m., with DJ Don T spinning. Upstairs comes the Gentlemen of No Illusion, aka the Men of Secrets, shaking to the sounds of DJ tim e’ starting at 9 p.m.
Other non-LGBTQ-specific options around town: U Street Music Hall (202-588-1880, ustreetmusichall.com) moves into 2018 with the homegrown “Moombahton” grooves of Nadastrom ($12); the Black Cat (202-667-4490, blackcatdc.com) offers its popular New Year’s Eve Ball with performances by Peaches O’Dell and her Orchestra and Tony Anthony and his Malvivants upstairs and DJ Dredd spinning hip-hop, pop, and soul on the Backstage($30); Hamilton Live (202-787-1000, thehamiltondc.com) presents two shows, with a performance in the intimate Loft Bar by the local 19th Street Band ($35), and Bonerama and New Orleans Suspects on its main stage ($43.50 to $58.50); and the Theater at MGM National Harbor (844-346-4664, mgmnationalharbor.com) presents the Deloreans performing party jams from decades ago with “New Year’s Eve Rewind: A Very ’80s Celebration” including an open bar ($175).
If you’d like to stray from the gay with a guarantee of a good time, the legendary jazz club Blues Alley (202-337-4141, bluesalley.com) presents the return of renowned multi-genre pianist Cyrus Chestnut and his trio, with assist from singer Integriti Reeves and her band, plus all the party-favor fixins and a three-course meal starting at 10 p.m. ($160). In a similar vein, the Kennedy Center (202-467-4600, kennedy-center.org) offers its annual Grand Foyer Party with performances by the jazzy soul bands Vintage#18 and Mark G. Meadows & the Movement for free — provided you pony up for another show or dine at the Roof Terrace that evening in the arts edifice.
But to ring in 2018 in a way you absolutely couldn’t have done just one year ago, head down to Southwest’s new Wharf. There you’ll find the Anthem (202-265-0930, theanthemdc.com) and a concert with D.C.’s internationally renowned downtempo collective Thievery Corporation, international gypsy-punk group Gogol Bordello, and hometown go-go heroes Trouble Funk ($75 to $125). Yet if that two-month-old venue’s just not new enough for you, venture two blocks down to Union Stage (877-987-6487, unionstage.com), which will officially open a few days before New Year’s. On the eve of 2018, the owners of Virginia’s Jammin’ Java will be trumpeting their newest venue with an all-ages “Emo Night Brooklyn” party featuring Ryan Key, former lead singer of emo band Yellowcard, who will DJ a night of millennium-turning tunes ($25 to $50).
Lastly, if you plan it properly, you could opt for a third day of brunching on Monday, Jan. 1. And your third just might be the charm at the Hotel Monaco in Penn Quarter, with its second-annual Fortune Teller’s Brunch at the Dirty Habit (202-449-7095, dirtyhabitdc.com). In addition to a full brunch menu, diners receive fortune cookies with prizes inside and on-site tarot card and “lipsology” readings. In other words, pucker up for a brighter future, or at least a better year.
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