No-Cover Bars for New Year’s Eve in DC

It's boozy business as usual at these watering holes.

Boundary Stone. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Who says you need to spend $100 just get into a bar on New Year’s Eve? For those who can’t justify throwing back enough drinks to get your money’s worth at an open bar, there are some great no-cover options to check out in Washington. Whether you want the the quintessential Champagne toast as the ball drops, or something a little more low-key, these spots are offering free entry this Thursday night. Don’t see your favorite no-cover haunt listed? Let us know in the comments section.

American Ice Co.

917 V St., NW; 202-758-3562

While he doesn’t expect a massive crowd for New Year’s Eve, co-owner Joe Reza is open to serving later than normal, so long as his patrons are still having fun. The bar will stock bottles of Champagne for those looking to celebrate in style, or you can always chase down a shot of rye with a Narragansett or Astra and platter of barbecue.

Baby Wale

1124 9th St., NW; 202-450-3311

Head to Baby Wale to greet the new year with Go-Go music and local beers. You can also nab one of their special cocktails like the “Funky French,” made with Greenhook gin and sparkling wine. The earliest the bar will close is 1:30 AM.

Bar Pilar

1833 14th St., NW; 202-265-1751

This Hemingway-inspired hangout will send off 2015 with a special cocktail menu. The bar will also have a DJ, house-made fortune cookies, and a free dose of champagne at midnight.

Boundary Stone

116 Rhode Island Ave., NW;

For a more relaxed evening where you don’t have to get all dressed up, try Boundary Stone. The Bloomingdale bar recently expanded its space, so there should be plenty of elbow room for a “no big deal new years eve,” as co-owner Matt Croke puts it. The bar will be open until 3 AM.

Cafe Saint-Ex

1847 14th St., NW; (202) 265-7839

The downstairs bar, better known as Gate 54, will be open until close with discounts on bubbly. If you’re looking to eat beforehand, try something off their special family-style menu like a pulled pork sandwich or donut holes.

Eat the Rich/Southern Efficiency

1839-41 7th St., NW; (202) 316-9396

While there’s no cover to get in, you can pay $40 for a “bottomless bubble” package that’s good at either Shaw bar, which share a backdoor. You can also grab $5 oyster-back shooters before midnight and a late-night $7 Natty Boh. The bars will stay open until 2:30 AM.

El Camino

108 Rhode Island Ave., NW; 202-847-0419

Head to Bloomingdale for a batch of late-night tacos and a happy hour that kicks in at 10:30, where you can get their staple Camino margerita for $5. Request your favorite song to a guest DJ Tim Jackson who’s in-house as a special NYE treat.

McClellan’s Retreat

2031 Florida Ave., NW; 202-265-6270

If you think regular champagne on New Year’s in played-out, treat yourself to a free flute of Miller High Life — “the champagne of beers” — at midnight at McClellan’s. The bar will be open for normal business hours, from 4 PM to 2 AM.

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace/Black Jack

1612 14th St., NW; 202-986-5225

For the most part, it’s business as usual at this popular 14th Street restaurant pair. But if you head upstairs to Black Jack, you can get a special Champagne slushie. Last call is at 1:30 AM.

Quarry House Tavern

8401 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-587-8350

Save for a free midnight Champagne toast, this Silver Spring spot will keep things casual Thursday night. Sister bars El Chucho, Bar Charley, and Slash Run are going with open bar packages, but most clock in at under $50, which is still a good deal.

Red Rocks (H Street location)

1348 H St., NE; 202-621-7300

Looking to do it up but still skip a cover charge? The Atlas District location of Red Rocks throws a Gatsby/Boardwalk Empire-themed party with a complimentary toast at midnight. The roof deck is heated, so you may be able to take in a few stars. Doors open at 9 pm.

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

2007 18th St., NW

While there’s a rooftop pig roast early in the evening, and Dram & Grain in the basement is holding a cocktail tasting, you’ll find business as usual in the first-floor saloon. Owner Bill Thomas made a menu of “the 20 best whiskeys to drink before the ball drops” if you want to try something special. Happy hour also runs from 5 to 8 for the deal-seekers.

Jackson Knapp
Assistant Editor