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No-Cover Bars for a Low-Key New Year’s Eve
Here are 17 bars and restaurants keeping it cool on the 31st. By Travis M. Andrews
Smoke & Barrel welcomes New Year's with lots of meat and whiskey...but no cover charge. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Comments () | Published December 21, 2012

New Year’s Eve is a day of resolution, reflection … and drinking. But the last need not involved a packed, expensive, and sweaty scene. For those drinkers among us who prefer a less insane evening, a smattering of spots are planning low-key New Year’s Eve experiences. So relax, there’s no rule that says you have to fight it out at an open bar this year.

Boundary Stone, a wing-lover’s paradise, will continue its golden tradition of doing absolutely nothing special for New Year’s Eve. (Well, we’ve been told there might be a toast at midnight, but that’s a sort of whim-of-the-evening type thing.)

If smoked meats and whiskey are more your style, then Dupont Circle’s Smoke & Barrel has you covered. The only thing it’s doing to ring in the New Year is keeping a steady supply of succulent barbecue at the ready.

Maddy’s Bar & Grille, which recently added a Logan Circle location, will have a fairly basic night, as well: no cover but a few drink specials.

Glover Park’s game-and-sandwich filled Breadsoda won’t make anyone pay upon entry, but it’s not ignoring the holiday altogether: There will be free games all night, plus a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight.

Columbia Heights favorite Meridian Pint offers a normal night at the bar and a twist in the dining room: Diners can enjoy a three-course prix-fixe meal for $45. After dinner, sidle up to the bar and try not to get overwhelmed by the extensive beer list.

The haven for lovers of Belgian beers and mussels, Granville Moore’s, is doing “absolutely nothing” to ring in the New Year—save, of course, offering a fantastically eclectic beer menu and some of the best mussels in this city.

Georgetown classic Clyde’s welcomes the New Year with its usual food, drinks, and good times. It closes when the ball drops, but that just leaves all of Georgetown at your disposal.

Dupont beer bar the Big Hunt has no cover as usual. The only difference during New Year’s Eve is the deejays that’ll be spinning tracks for all its brew sippers.

One of the newcomers on this list, Central, plans to keep serving its cheese puffs, bacon-and-onion tarts, and the rest of its regular menu for the New Year.

The triple-leveled Black Squirrel is still deciding what to do for the big day, but one thing’s certain: At least two levels will be experiencing a normal evening. A caveat: The bar may instate a cover at around 11:30 to deter those seeking nothing but the free Champagne at the midnight toast.

The Tune Inn, home of stuffed deer heads, PBR, and cheese fries, is closed on Christmas, but is serving up its lowbrow delicacies on New Year’s Eve.

Off the Record, the politico favorite nestled in the Hay-Adams Hotel, will be following standard operating procedure to ring in 2013. As will the Jefferson Hotel’s bar, Quill. The Willard InterContinental’s bar, Round Robin, will also keep on keeping on with its normal service throughout New Year’s Eve.

The perpetually packed Old Ebbitt Grill will be doing what it always does: catering to the hungry and the thirsty late into the evening, long after most restaurants have closed their doors.

If you’re looking for a decent meal but don’t want to decide between a prix-fixe menu and à la carte, Poste will be offering an à-la-carte version of its New Year’s Eve tasting menu—along with signature burgers—at the bar.

Dickson Wine Bar is taking things up a notch without taking too heavy a toll on your wallet. You’ll find food and drink specials, music, and a projection screen showing the ball drop—all for no cover.

Every World War I-obsessed writer’s favorite haunt, the Hemingway-inspired Bar Pilar, will have its usual blend of well-made cocktails and tasty small plates, plus tunes from a deejay

Know of other great places to spend a quiet New Year’s Eve? Let us know in the comments section!


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  • The Limerick Pub

    The Limerick Pub, Wheaton, MD (2 blocks from metro) is also charging no cover for our North American NYE party - starts at 9 p.m. w/ entertainment by White Loafer.

    Great food specials and full menu.

  • Apoho12

    Tommy Joe's in Bethesda is also a NO COVER NYE bar with Happy Hour specials all night.

  • mellowadmo

    Ring in a Mellow New Year.

    No cover.
    DJ Eskimo spinning
    Complimentary midnight toast with your choice of champagne or craft beer (Boulevard Tank 7).
    $5 Jameson shots
    $4 specialty Svedka cocktails
    Progressive pricing on Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat starting at $4 at 9 and ending at $1 from midnight til close

    Bring friends. Prepare to dance.

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Posted at 01:25 PM/ET, 12/21/2012 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Blogs