When the champagne corks start to fly and the countdown begins, where will you be spending your New Year’s Eve? San Antonio offers a host of options, from fireworks and music to romantic dinners, atmospheric bar parties and lavish hotel celebrations, or even a night in or at a friend’s house with a bottle of local wine. Here are a few ideas.
1. Celebrate San Antonio
If the idea of ringing in the New Year with more than 250,000 other San Antonians appeals to you, plan to attend Celebrate San Antonio. There will be live music on three stages, carnival games and rides, food and drinks, all culminating in the midnight Valero Firework Extravaganza. The festival will be held 6 p.m.-12:30 a.m. on South Alamo Street between Market Street and East Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, and in La Villita. Entrance is free and open to the public. All proceeds from food and activities go to the San Antonio Parks Foundation.
2. The Brooklynite
The Brooklynite bar, located on the river between downtown and the Pearl, will be open 5 p.m. until 2 a.m., with a champagne toast at midnight. Greet the New Year with a Smoking Buck or Keep Me Wild (or any other delicious and inventive house cocktails) in hand. Recline on one of their Victorian sofas or retreat to the dim lamplight of a wall-papered nook. As always, there will be a selection of food trucks outside. No tickets required, but if you would like a table, reservations can be made online.
3. Ocho at the Hotel Havana
Ocho at the Hotel Havana, 1015 Navarro Street, will host a ticketed event in their delightful blue atrium restaurant and moody subterranean bar. The evening includes a dinner menu created by Executive Chef Toby Soto, and live music by Tiburon. The party lasts from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. Tickets are $100 per person. Call 210-222-2008 for reservations – space is limited. The hotel also offers a Texas Resident Discount, so you could save yourself a drive and book one of their charming rooms for the evening. Rooms from $114 per night.
At Southtown’s intimate and innovative Bliss, 926 South Presa St., Chef Mark Bliss has prepared a preset four-course menu, with multiple options for each course, $85 per person. Fare for the evening includes crispy oyster “sliders” with buttermilk chive biscuits, lobster bisque, rabbit cannelloni, venison loin, red snapper and beef tenderloin with seared foie gras.
Deserts include flourless chocolate cake, pecan pie and goats’ milk cheesecake with pistachio shortbread crust. As always at Bliss, one can anticipate seasonal ingredients creatively prepared. Their carefully selected wine list will suit a variety of tastes and budgets. Reservations can be made online or by calling 210-225-2547.
5. Liberty Bar
A San Antonio classic, the Liberty Bar, 1111 South Alamo St., has a full evening of celebrations planned for New Year’s Eve. From 6-10 p.m. they’ll serve a “Mother of All Suppers” buffet with delectable selections of prime rib, turkey, and their most popular sides for $65 per person. For champagne, try Billecart Salmon’s delicious Brue Reserve or Rosé. From 10 p.m. to midnight they’ll hold the “Big Pachanga” party in the bar upstairs with live music, light food and drinks: the ticket, $50, includes both drink tickets and champagne. The events may be attended separately for the prices listed above, or jointly for $100. Call 210-227-1187 for reservations.
6. Boiler House
The Boiler House at Pearl is hosting a four-course dinner with optional wine pairing, from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. If you’d like to make your own wine pairings, I recommend the Dom Perignon for something bubbly, and the rich Cakebread Chardonnay for a domestic white, or Huet’s characterful and intense dry Vouvray for a Francophile choice. For reds, Chave’s St. Joseph is a serious choice, and the Serre Nuove from Ornellaia would satisfy those looking for creamy, oaky, modern fruit. There will be live music by Bru Erdman Duo from 9 p.m., and a complementary champagne toast at midnight. Tickets are available online or at the restaurant, and cost $75 for the four-course dinner, and $120 for the four-course dinner with wine pairing.
7. Biga on the Banks
Biga on the Banks will feature two options for New Year’s Eve. First is a 5:30-8:30 p.m. seating for a four-course menu with multiple options for each choice, $65 per person. The second is a five-course menu served from 8 p.m. until midnight, with party favors, champagne and live music, for $100. Menu options will include seared scallops, beef tartare, pork and shiitake spring rolls and more. Call 210-225-0722 for reservations.
8. The Fairmont Hotel
The historic Fairmont Hotel, on 401 South Alamo St. – adjacent to the Celebrate San Antonio festivities – is holding a party of its own. The hotel will offer an overnight package that includes champagne, party favors, tickets for four family members or friends to join you for the party, and an ideal vantage point for the Tower of the Americas fireworks. If you wish to celebrate in your own room, the hotel also offers party trays, catering requests and in-room bartenders. Don’t worry about sleeping in, there’s late check out the next day. Rooms from $169 per night. Call 210-798-3575 for reservations.
9. Hotel Valencia
Few parties promise to be quite so extravagant as the Hotel Valencia’s. Located on the Riverwalk, the hotel is offering a New Year’s Eve package including accommodation for two, complimentary drinks and food. The evening begins with a “Culinary Show” prepared by Executive Chef Robbie Nowlin, made to “inspire the senses.” Selections include oysters, tenderloin, and black truffle risotto. Entertainment continues with the “Haute, Hot New Year’s Party” throughout the hotel, with cocktails, champagne, a balloon drop, DJ, dancing and more. Tickets for the dinner and Haute party, from 8:30-10:30 p.m., are $125 per person. Tickets for the 11 p.m. “Cheers” party at the Vbar are $45 a person. Room packages are available from $479 per night.
10. The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
The newly opened Tobin Center for the Performing Arts is featuring two ways to countdown. The H-E-B Performance Hall at the Tobin Center will host world-renowned soprano Patricia Racette in her Diva on a Detour Cabaret Program, accompanied by pianist Craig Terry. Following the concert, the orchestra will play Viennese waltzes and polkas by Johann Strauss, Jr.. The celebration will continue with dancing and a special performance by the Rick Cavender Band. An optional three-course dinner with wine and champagne will begin at 6 p.m., the concert begins at 8 p.m., and the party continues until 1 a.m. The dinner package, including premium seating, is $500 per person ($200 tax-deductible). Tickets range from $49-149. Call 210-673-7270 for reservations.
If you prefer Rhythm and Blues, Jagged Edge will perform at 10 p.m. at the River Walk Plaza. Doors open at 9 p.m and will continue to accept guests until 3 a.m. Celebrations include a balloon drop, countdown, midnight champagne toast, and sumptuous breakfast buffet. General admission is $53 per person, and VIP admission is $113 per person.
Bonus: Anywhere, with a bottle of Texas Sparking Wine
Sparkling wine is rarely made in Texas, but a few adventuresome wineries have tried their hand. McPherson Cellars makes a Non Vintage Sparking Wine, with blended Riesling and Vermentino grapes, which they describe as crisp with tropical fruit aromas and delicate sweetness. Bottles are $22, order online or call 806-687-9463).
Messina Hof, located in Fredricksburg, makes a Sparkling Brut, with notes of pear, pineapple and green apple for $18.00. Buy online or call 800-736-9463. They also make red and white sparkling grape juice, for your children and designated drivers.
Dry Comal Creek’s sparkling wine has notes of green apple and pear, as well as grapefruit and lime ($18.99, online or 830-885-4076).
These are not only more economical than champagne, but impart the warm glow that comes of knowing you’ve supported local vintners.
For auld lang syne and those to come, a very happy New Year to you!
*Featured/top image: New Years Eve fireworks seen from Southtown on Jan. 1, 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
This story was originally published on Dec. 26, 2014.