Better than the ball drop: 8 great New Year’s Eve party bars

Roughly 200,000 people will stand for hours in below-freezing temperatures to watch the ball drop in New York City's Times Square this year. It’s quite possible that these are secret Navy Seals — can normal people actually tolerate being outside in Manhattan in December with no heat, no booze and not much to do till the ball comes down? As for the rest of us, we will be in the bar.

We wanted to salute a few spots that will be turning up the tunes and sending out the Champagne in style this year. From a beer bar with a lesser-known ball drop in Michigan to one of New York’s most coveted dance clubs, these are great choices if you have more common sense than to stand outside and wait for hours for a neon ball to descend a pole for 10 seconds.

Lavo – Las Vegas

If you are the type to go huge on New Year’s Eve, nowhere goes off quite like Las Vegas. We like the looks of Lavo inside The Palazzo this year and the headliner, DJ Vice. DJ Times just listed him on its Top 10 list for 2013 and the price is right at $50 for the ladies and $75 for gents. That includes complimentary hors d’oeurves, a premium open bar and the awesome fact that at the stroke of midnight, you can move your whole group (for free!) over to Tao and enjoy its headliner, Grammy Award winning artist Miguel.

It doesn’t end there. The following day, take that same ticket stub to Tao Asian Bistro or Lavo Italian Restaurant and get fed at 10 percent off.

Terrior, Brooklyn

Maybe clubs aren’t your thing. The guys at Terrior aren’t into clubs, either. Which makes sense, given that they operate some of the city’s best wine bars. Terrior has multiple locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but the Park Slope spot is sending off 2013 with an all-out 1980s prom night. Don some pink taffeta monstrosity or a light blue tux, jump in the free photo booth, and then impress strangers with your skills at ‘80s trivia. King & Queen will leave (OK, stumble home) with a prize. Not shockingly, you’re jamming to ‘80s tunes all night.

Cost is $100, plus a small processing fee, with free food and drinks included.

The Mitten Bar – Ludington, Mich.

Ludington, Michigan has its own ball drop. Who knew? If you’re a beer lover, you’ve likely heard of Mitten Bar. It’s been featured in Road Belly Magazine, and both Draft magazine and Food & Wine listed it as a 2013 best beer bar in our nation.

“We are located just feet from the Downtown Ludington Ball Drop, and this is a huge night for us,” says Owner Megan Payment. “So partygoers can view the Ball Drop from inside our space while drinking an incredible Michigan brew. We usually live stream a show like Umphrey’s McGee or something similar, and additionally, we'll be featuring L. Mawby Sex on Tap.”

Paper Plane, Atlanta

“We began this Monday steak night, where you can have your choice of several cuts of meat and á la carte sides. It’s very post-war, classic NYC. For New Year’s Eve, we wanted to do something similar that was elegant, yet super affordable,” says Paper Plane co-owner Paul Calvert. “The cost is $50, and that includes Champagne, an appetizer, entrée and dessert.”

The space will remind you of a scene from “Mad Men”: dark and a bit masculine, with a mid-century design and a warm and cozy feel. Paper Plane is a bar that makes you want to drink stiff whiskey cocktails. Calvert’s got you covered with several of his specialty recipes and some outstanding gin tipples for the last night of the year.

One Eyed Jack’s – New Orleans

Every year, the high priestess of groove, DJ Soul Sister, throws New Orleanians a kick-ass NYE party. It bounces from bar to bar, and this year, the 11th annual fete will be at One Eyed Jacks in the French Quarter. Soul Sister is a local celebrity when it comes to sound. She’s hosted her radio show “Soul Power” on WWOZ FM for years, winning numerous accolades from local and national publications, and she’s known for putting together fantastic events.

This one – priced at a mere $10 for a free glass of Champagne, party favors and all the get-down grooves your ears can take – will be no exception. In fact, based on previous years, this dance party might set the bar even higher.

Jimmy’s – Aspen, Colo.

This place is a packed house every December 31, and with good reason. Jimmy’s has been serving Aspen’s ski-weary for nearly two decades. Bartenders pride themselves on a craft cocktail menu with fresh juices and house carved ice for drinks. This year, the second dinner seating is already sold out. However, there are still tickets for the first 6 p.m. seating for the three-course dinner. Better yet, just show up to imbibe. It’s first-come, first-served at the bar. Expect music from local talent DJ Naka G and a great vantage out front of Aspen’s annual fireworks display.

Goldbar, New York City

On a normal Saturday night, Goldbar is a great choice. It’s intimate without being cramped. The DJ talent is top tier. You can request bottle service or order a craft cocktail, and best of all, the walls are made out of hundreds of stacked golden skulls. It’s basically like dancing to Stevie Wonder … in catacomb … designed by Beyoncé.

For New Year’s Eve, the theme is Black-Tie Masquerade. Bottle service is sponsored by Belvedere Vodka and Dom Perignon Champagne, and the party will rage from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. That includes a top-shelf open bar until 2 a.m., passed canapés, and a Champagne toast at midnight. A mere $150 will get you in the door, and tables are $250 per person.

Foxy’s – Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

One of the most famous throwdowns in North America, the “Old Years Night” shindig at Foxy’s is a bucket-list party. The event actually starts on December 27 with local bands and a beachside BBQ. Music continues throughout the weekend till the 31st, where guests can choose their tier of experience, from a first-come first-serve BBQ for $20 a head to the $400-per-person, full-out six-course seafood dinner with and open bar. This year, Bunny Wailer is the headliner — backed by a group of fire dancers, naturally.