If the old adage is true — how you spend New Year’s Eve is how you’ll spend the next year — then maybe it’s time to set the right tone. It’s been years since I’ve bought an over-priced bar package, but every year I still seem to fight the rest of the city for cabs and spend the first day of the new year battling a hangover.
Here are ten ways to mix it up this year:
1. Intimate Dinner: Okay, having a fun dinner with a few friends is nothing new, but for some reason I’ve never done it for NYE — and this year it sounds ideal. Chicago Tribune food critic Phil Vettel did a great round-up of all of the best prix fixe deals in Chicago here. Ada Street and Balena are two of my favorite restaurants and, at $100 per person (including wine pairings), the price is right. (As of Sunday afternoon, both still have availability.)
2. Binge-Watch Girls In Your PJs: Since flights to anywhere warm were insane, a few friends and I are headed to a cabin in Galena, Illinois to drink wine, watch tv, cook — and generally avoid the craziness of the city. I think something like this is going to be my contribution.
3. Get Your Om On: Getting into yoga is one of my goals for 2015 and a 90-minute bikram yoga class (beginning at 10:30 pm) would be a great way to set the tone for the year ahead.
4. Discover Your New Favorite Band: Every time I’ve seen a show at Schubas, I leave obsessed with the artist. I’m sure Sinkane would be no different. Concert starts at 10 pm. $25 in advance / $30 at the door.
5. Put On Your Cowboy Boots: If you’ve never been to Carol’s Pub, you’re missing out. It’s been open since 1973 and, if you get there early enough, you’ll probably see some regulars who have been claiming the same table for the last 40 years. A live band plays country favorites all night long (until 4 am!!) and — since it’s a late-night bar — it’s easy to grab a cab home.* Cash only.
*Because you will be responsibly leaving around 1 am when everyone else is coming from other bars!
7. Booze at the Zoo: Pack a thermos of Irish coffee and check out Lincoln Park’s Zoo Lights (open from 5-9 pm / free) and then head over to Bricks for pizza. Or, if you want a full pizza bar, reserve a spot at Ranalli’s.
8. Check Out a Comedy Show: Have an early dinner at Adobo Grill and then head next door for Second City’s Holidazed and Confused Revue. Shows at 7 and 10 pm. $55. (As of Sunday afternoon, tickets were still available for both shows.)
10. Stay Home: If the crowds and cab situation are too overwhelming, just be sure to order in from somewhere good.