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10 Ways to Have a Very Happy New Year’s

No-cover bars, Gwyneth’s hangover cure, and a brunch for everyone: a guide to living it up and keeping your cool this weekend.

We taste-tested value sparkling wines so you don’t have to. Happy New Year. Photograph by Kyle Gustafson.

1) If you haven’t nailed down dinner, OpenTable has a list of restaurants that still have reservations available on the 31st, and it’s surprisingly long and full of good spots.

2) Here on the Best Bites blog, we’ve been following availabilities at special New Year’s Eve feasts around town. Last we checked, there were still spaces at these 38 eateries.

3) Oh, and we also taste-tested a bunch of sparkling wines for you. All of them are available locally and cost less than $25. Some of them are pretty tasty—including the $9 bottle.

4) What better way to prepare the body for a big, boozy bash than a long walk? We know of none. The After Hours blog has a great idea: Go to Gaithersburg to check out the Winter Lights Festival. The 31st is the last night to take a stroll through the trail of 65 illuminated displays.

5) For those of you who grow squirmy at the idea of paying a massive cover only to be locked into a packed pub all evening with hundreds of other lost souls in search of a cocktail: There is hope. We found nine mellow bars that are going cover-free on the 31st.

6) Love her or hate her, Gwyneth Paltrow has provided some excellent hangover guidance in this week’s Goop. Okay, so not all of us can pop over to the spa for hydrotherapy every time we have a headache, but Gwynnie says you can DIY it at home—you’ll need two bathrooms, though, and the privacy to run between them.

7) Not to be outdone by Mrs. Coldplay, Max Silvestri at Bon Appétit has a step-by-step guide to nursing your first hangover of 2012.

8) Once you’ve revived yourself, head out to brunch at one of the 50-plus spots that Best Bites’ Anna Spiegel rounded up in this epic post. There’s something for everyone: coffee lovers, sober-as-a-minister folk, people who just want to start drinking again.

9) Moving on to resolutions, did you know that Sweetgreen is offering a free year of salad to one of its customers this year? Watch the video to find out how. (Don’t get freaked out by the guy at the beginning—we thought he had a knife at first, too.)

10) For those resolved to delve deep into the Washington culinary scene this year, a great place to start is Ann Limpert’s list of the top 10 openings of 2011. Then get ready for what’s coming: 2012 promises to be a very interesting year in local dining.

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