ONE OF THE BEST The New Years Eve I ever spent was with my cousin. We didn’t even go anywhere. We stayed in his high rise apartment, sipped champagne (the good stuff), then took the elevator to the roof of his building at midnight to watch the stars and jump to keep warm.
So no, I’m not known for tripping the fantastic light on that long-awaited night of the year, but I love the idea. Maybe I’m just afraid of being disappointed. Going out for a night on the town on the last day of the year should be the cat’s meow. With these four places, you might just be able to make things purr.
1. The Hobnob
277, CHEMIN S. SHERIDAN, RACINE | 262-552-8008
This charming, retro dining club is the kind of place where you eat fancy fare from another era, like Burgundian snails, and drink Alexanders cognac. For New Years Eve, The Hobnob will be serving a limited menu of its popular dishes, which include chops and steaks, sausage cutlets and Oscar chicken, stuffed pork chops and grilled whitefish. The cocktail menu includes 15 specialty martinis and an impressive selection of after-dinner drinks and ice cream. On this special evening, you can also expect freebies, a champagne toast and live music (piano, followed by jazz).
2423 N. MURRAY AVE. | 414-964-9923
Six years ago, owner John Dye spent 10 months transforming this dark and aging East Side hideaway into a beautiful, retro-style club for jazz and cocktail lovers. Belly up to the padded bar covered in Formica wood grain for an old fashioned style (they nail them here) or something less, well, pedestrian like the Midnight Special, a scotch mix, from Cocchi Americano, by Luxardo Amaretto and bitter house. Dye’s Eve plans to do a paid show early, followed by open music later until it closes. It could be the intimate, lounge-lizard place to hang out for the night, or just drop by for a drink and some ear candy.
424 E. WISCONSIN AVE. | 414-298-3196
Snacks, libations, live music and a breathtaking view make Blu, the bar on the 23rd floor of the Pfister Hotel, a hot ticket. The gourmet menu they serve serves as a tasty buffer to the beverage menu featuring 10 signature cocktails (from old to elderflower martini). Start the evening with the chef’s cheese board and end with a piece of decadent chocolate butter cake. Blu offers pre-dinner seating (5-7 p.m.) for New Years Eve, or guests can book the full evening with bottle service from 8:30 p.m., when the music from jazz / R&B singer Donna Woodall begins.
360 E. ERIE ST. | 414-488-8036
This weekend-only, prix-fixe restaurant – a modern, relaxed microcosm inside Third Ward’s DanDan – features some of the city’s most inspired cuisines. Owners Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite requisitioned the kitchen and let their culinary imaginations run wild. They’ve put together a holiday-worthy menu, with dishes like foie gras mousse on a pie, lobster tom yum soup and caviar with cauliflower in rice, pickled leeks, and butter-fried croutons. The Dans bring an engaging and unpretentious vibe to these meals, interacting with diners as they explain each dish.
SAINT KATE – THE ARTS HOTEL, 139 E. KILBOURN AVE. | 414-276-8686
Saint Kate’s Champagne Bar teams up with its Midwestern American-style restaurant for a New Year’s Day brunch. It will be served as a buffet and will offer an assortment of salads, starters and main courses as well as a champagne bar and Bloody Mary. ARIA, known for their “broast-ish” chicken and classic Big Boy burger, doesn’t normally offer brunch, so it’ll be interesting to see how they approach this midday holiday meal. On the liquid side, Giggly has a bubbly for seemingly everyone – sweet and dry sparkling wines and rosés, and selections from the cellar including Don Perignon and Veuve Clicquot. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. $ 49 per person.