As the world crosses over into a new year, given its past two, what else could we expect but more uncertainty? We don’t need to tell you things are getting weirder again (and not in that lovable Keep Austin Weird way). Thankfully, there’s a lot more positivity to hold onto by this year’s end, with better tested solutions and more confidence in navigating personal ideals. Basically, people learned how to cope. For now, that’s enough.
It’s time to celebrate how far we’ve come, and greet the future with careful optimism. These eight Austin hosts are leading patrons forward in smaller events, emphasizing one of our greatest connectors: food. For many browsing this list, New Year’s Eve will be logistically no different than a simple dinner out. Some restaurants will even make sure staying home doesn’t mean giving up your chance to indulge. Here’s your excuse to don your sequins, kiss a (vaccinated) pal at midnight, and kick off 2022 with what really matters: Champagne.
Devil May Care
With a little planning, New Year’s Eve can bring you right through the chaotic holidays right back into your regular routine. Consider sticking to one place Friday and Saturday. Disappear into the industrial-eclectic den that is Devil May Care for a smooth jazz dinner with the Ephraim Owens Trio, Champagne, and caviar. Saturday night, check out the black-tie celebration with DJ Nic Fanciulli. Keep it going the next morning with brunch in collaboration with Austin events gods When Where What. Find more information and reserve a spot at devilmaycareatx.com.
If a night of excess is exactly what you need to recover from 2021 (and let’s be real, 2020 as well), Hestia is serving an indulgent 10-course meal that will send the year off in the most indulgent way. The whole thing starts with variations on the humble tomato (“tomato tart, hearth-dried tomato, smoked tomato snow”) and moves through a mostly French spread with Japanese twists (“wagyu tartare, beef-fat waffle, fermented mushroom espuma, crispy onion”). Hestia is recovering too, after responsibly closing due to COVID-19 staff exposures, and will be relieved to be back. Book the $195 experience at hestiaaustin.com.
If a night of excess is exactly what you don’t need, DrinkWell is on the same page. The cocktail bar describes its planned festivities as “low-key,” starting at 3 pm on New Year’s Eve and wrapping up just after midnight. The restaurant and go-to happy hour spot is serving the usual dinner and snacks, plus an extended Champagne selection and some special cocktails that are still a mystery. Check drinkwellaustin.com for special-cocktail updates. No reservations are required, there’s no cover charge to attend, and there’s no dress code (though nobody will chide you for donning sequins). Just chill on the couch until you feel it’s time. Here, you can enter the new year with gentleness.
For those celebrating at home who don’t want to miss the opportunity to indulge, Osome is sending home 30-piece nigiri boxes ($200) with wine or sake pairings ($50). This style of sushi is just fish on rice with none of those other roll add-ins. Unlike many of the other restaurants offering holiday take-home options, Osome exclusively operates as a pop-up or out of people’s homes. The eatery usually sends a chef out for omakase (a structured tasting menu), so this is a slightly more affordable option scaled for a busy day. Email email@example.com to reserve your nigiri meal.
Fierce Whiskers Distillery
Did someone say open bar? At $200 a ticket, the drinks aren’t free, but you can certainly get your money’s worth. Fierce Whiskers Distillery is hosting a New Year’s Eve bash with a “circus” that includes live music, belly dancing, fire tricks, and acrobatics. There will be snacks and plenty of indoor and outdoor space to mill about. Everything the distillery produces happens in-house, with 99 percent of the grains used coming from near Amarillo. It’s a good place to get to know booze better, and maybe join an exclusive whiskey club. Find tickets on Eventbrite.
Walton’s Fancy and Staple
After a long night of partying (or pretending to party so you can hide out quietly in your living room), there’s nothing like a home brunch to get your gears turning again. Walton’s offers a to-go feast for up to 10 that features a maple bourbon ham, Southern sides, French toast, a mimosa kit, and an underappreciated item at most brunches: an entire cheesecake. Everything is sold a la carte, so you’ll only have the leftovers you want. Take the credit without the early wake-up or prep work. Preorder by December 28 by calling 512-542-3380 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cork & Barrel Pub
This Round Rock microbrewery is starting a new New Year’s Eve tradition with a black-and-white-themed celebration. It’s off the beaten path and therefore ideal for Austinites wanting to stay away from downtown. There will be an appetizer bar and signature cocktails (the online menu teases one with rye, walnut, chocolate, and maple syrup), plus the obligatory sparkling toast at midnight. A photo booth, live entertainment, and party favors make this an impressive first attempt. Purchase tickets ($75) on Eventbrite, and show proof of your rideshare for 20 percent off all drinks.
What were the last unlimited snacks you had at a party? Pretzels and tortilla chips? Let’s elevate that … a lot. At Canje this New Year’s Eve, you’ll choose between coconut fried shrimp, ceviche, Jamaican patties, and more. The Caribbean eatery also throws in a welcome cocktail and a midnight toast, and leaves the rest up to you. Arrive before 8:15 pm for a pregame dinner or at 10 pm for the main event, featuring local DJ South of Everywhere. Make reservations for regular dinner service and buy party tickets ($75) at canjeatx.com.