Might as well get 2020 over with as soon as possible.
Despite protests from establishments across the state, the ban on the sale of alcohol past 10 p.m. will not be lifted even for New Year's Eve celebrations. Most bars and restaurants are celebrating early, some are getting creative, but none of them will be selling booze past 10 p.m.
With the most recent COVID restrictions put in place as of December 10, many restaurant and bar owners were left wondering just how they are going to be ringing in the new year. The number of people allowed in a gathering has been reinstated to 10, there was a curfew put in place, and the time restrictions on closing times and the sale of alcohol remained at 12 a.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.
So, what does that mean for a holiday tradition that typically results in imbibing at the stroke of midnight? Unsurprisingly, it seems that most establishments are moving forward with their plans but with some pandemic modifications. Obviously, masks and social distancing will be required but the big changes will be when these events are taking place.
In Northern Virginia, the Potomac Point Vineyard and Winery has moved up their New Year's Eve Dinner up by four and a half hours and dropped the ticket price by about $50. Unfortunately, last year's dancing and dueling pianos were nixed but you can still make a reservation to enjoy the great food and wine. The event, which includes a sparkling wine toast and a three-course meal paired with "ideal" wines curated by the Executive Chef & Winemaker, will be held from 3 p.m. through 10:30 p.m. at $84 per person. The time limits for reservations will be strict to allow for sanitizing between tables and you can't be drinking after 10 p.m., but, at least it's still happening.
The Brick Anchor Brew House in downtown Norfolk is just pretending that the new year is happening at 10 p.m. Speaking with the Virginian-Pilot, owner Phil Smith said they will be offering a complimentary toast complete with "hats and noisemakers and all of that sort of thing," in an attempt to "replicate the ball drop” two hours earlier. With that logic, maybe the morning of New Year's Day will come a little gentler and a little more well-rested.
Irish Pubs have often celebrated twice throughout the evening in years past. Once, at 7 p.m. when the clocks strike twelve in Ireland and then again at midnight in the United States. Now, with Eastern Standard Time being taken off the table, places like Grace O'Malley's will only be operating on Ireland time—giving you ample opportunity to celebrate within the required time frame. Check your local pubs as they are probably doing something similar.
Courtesy of The ShackVB.com
Keeping with that theme, The Shack in Virginia Beach is celebrating "It’s 2021 Somewhere!", an all-day event ringing in the new year every hour, each time the clock strikes midnight somewhere else in the world. They will be featuring a "Cheers from Here" rotating drink menu from noon until 10 p.m. so you can get 10 countries in well before midnight on the East Coast.
What has been the saving grace for restaurants during the pandemic has been the allowance of booze to-go. Many places are offering drink specials early and most times you can take them home with you. Freemason Abbey, also in downtown Norfolk, for example, is offering a three-course meal for two available for takeout. Not only that, but they've come up with a couple of fun specialty drinks that seem pretty appropriate for the times. You can enjoy the "Screw 2020"—a variant on the classic Screwdriver—featuring a blend of Absolut mandarin, elderflower liqueur, peach nectar, orange juice, and topped off with sparkling brut wine. There's also the "2021-derful (we hope)". A long but cute name for a drink with Tanqueray gin, amaretto liqueur, pomegranate syrup, grapefruit juice, and a white gold sugar rim.
So, if you don't feel like cooking or preparing drinks on your own this New Year's Eve, you do have options. And if your favorite watering hole doesn't have cute little names to go with their drinks, you can make up your own! Try the "Staying-Indoors-Spritzer" or the "Been-a-Long-Year-Beer", whatever you like.
Will you be celebrating the New Year early? Plan to stock up with supplies to bring home for midnight? Let us know in the comments!