The public New Year’s Eve midnight countdown is back in 2021.
After dealing with a year’s worth of COVID variants, accelerated inflation, supply-chain snarls and general misery, it’s easy to forget what New Year’s Eve even looked like last year. To refresh your memory: It was pretty dead.
At that point, Gov. Kate Brown’s pandemic safety protocols required Oregon bars and restaurants in all counties rated “Moderate Risk” and above to shut their doors at 11 pm. That regulation applied to a majority of the state on Dec. 31, 2020. And many establishments closed down their patios far earlier than that due to a lack of customers once the sun went down.
But this year, we’re ready to say good riddance to another generally lousy 365-day stretch and welcome 2022 with renewed optimism and, dare we say, people—ready to dance, drink and eat their way into a joyous state.
Now we’re not advocating that you start kissing strangers in the streets just yet. The Omicron variant is still a cause for concern. But those vaxxed-and-boosted revelers looking to cut loose have plenty of local options—from rich, multicourse dinners to comedy shows to a countdown at a beer bar that takes place every hour on the hour across 11 time zones.
And anyone planning on keeping the party small and at home, we have a few recommendations for getting festive while hanging out on the couch as well.
Here are our top event picks happening in and around Portland this New Year’s Eve.
Aimsir Distilling New Year’s Eve Celebration
This newer bar-meets-distillery is throwing a laid-back celebration that requires no tickets. Founders Christine and Stephen Hopkins will play movies all night long inside an art deco-inspired tasting room that should transport you to an earlier rendition of the ’20s. Don’t miss the special holiday cocktail—the Pink Martini is a mixture of gin, peppercorn and hibiscus tea syrup locally sourced from the Jasmine Pearl Tea Company. It’s a drink that may just inspire you to do the Charleston in the hope that this decade comes roaring back just like the post-pandemic version in the 20th century. Aimsir Distilling Company, 2117 NE Oregon St., Suite 202, 971-213-1085, aimsirdistilling.com. 4-10 pm Friday, Dec. 31.
Fullerton Wine Bar New Year’s Eve Celebration
Fullerton Wine Bar recently welcomed seasoned chef Rob Grisham (previously at the French Laundry in Napa Valley), along with a new menu of made-from-scratch dishes. If you haven’t made it to the tasting room since his arrival, New Year’s Eve offers the perfect excuse to indulge in Grisham’s creations, including a handful of unique dishes for the holiday. Good news for anyone still apprehensive about indoor dining: The venue has outdoor seating that is heated and covered. Fullerton Wine Bar & Tasting Room, 1966 NW Pettygrove St., 503-477-7848, fullertonwines.com. 2-9 pm Friday, Dec. 31. Prices vary.
The Globetrotter’s Ball
Is one countdown not enough fanfare for you? Then do it 11 times this Friday at Imperial Bottle Shop, which will ring in the new year every hour on the hour across the globe. Or, if an all-day drinking marathon sounds impossible, just celebrate midnight in Odessa, Ukraine, at 2 pm Pacific Standard Time and call it a day. From Timbuktu to Rio de Janeiro to New Orleans to, uh, Denver, you can party remotely with other cities to your heart’s content. Despite the distance, you know we all have one thing in common: wishing good riddance to 2021. Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom, 2006 NE Alberta St., 503-954-2021, imperialbottleshop.com. Make table reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Great Gatsby NYE Party
Countless bars across the country foxtrotted into 2020 with some sort of Roaring Twenties theme, and well, we all know how that year went. If you’re the superstitious type, perhaps steer clear of this Great Gatsby shindig, but if you figure things can’t get any worse, go ahead and channel your inner Daisy Buchanan. Perhaps New Year’s Eve will finally mark the renaissance everyone was hoping for on Dec. 31, 2019. Bonus: There’s a giant Champagne tower. Bit House Collective, 727 SE Grand Ave., 503-954-3913, bithousesaloon.com. 8 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday, Dec. 31-Jan. 1. $50-$500. Dress code enforced.
Mae New Year’s Eve Feast
For the first time since early 2020, chef Maya Lovelace will hand-deliver lovingly prepared bowls and platters to diners—along with a sugary, Southern-tinged tale about the food at her pop-up Mae. The family-style format returns; however, some items will be individually plated this time around. You can expect many of the North Carolina-inspired dishes you came to love at the original supper club, including stone-ground cornmeal johnnycakes served alongside sweet butter, glazed candy roaster squash with a dollop of sassafras crème fraîche, sorghum-brined and pan-roasted Lan-Roc Farms pork chops, and chocolate cobbler accompanied by a scoop of buttermilk ice cream. There will be two beverage pairings: a traditional option featuring local wines and spirits and a non-alcoholic lineup of housemade juices and tinctures. Mae inside Yonder, 4636 NE 42nd Ave., Suite A, 503-444-7947, maepdx.com. 6 pm Friday, Dec. 31. $175 plus 20% gratuity. $55 for the alcoholic beverage pairing and $40 for the non-alcoholic beverage pairing.
New Seasons Seafood & Sparkling Wine Pairing
If home sounds like the only place you want to be on New Year’s Eve for any number of good reasons (drunks, crowds, a pandemic) then New Seasons can help you create a festive feast from the comfort of your own kitchen. The market’s seafood and wine stewards have prepared a pairing guide just in time for one of their most popular sales, the Sparkling Wine Event, which runs Dec. 29 through 31, when all fizzy bottles are 20% off. So while you may be ringing in 2022 while parked on the sofa, eat and drink like you’re at an opulent restaurant with pairing recommendations like smoked salmon with Prosecco or fresh oysters and Moutard Brut Champagne. New Seasons Markets. Dec. 29-31.
New Year’s Eve Extravaganza!
New Year’s Eve can be a crapshoot. Do you splurge on an event and brave the crowds, sweat and (probably) drunken, end-of-night tears or just ignore the whole thing and stay home? Curious Comedy is offering a middle option for anyone who wants to spend the evening laughing without a lot of hassle—or Ryan Seacrest. The New Year’s Eve Extravaganza! will spoil you with a whopping four hours of performances: improv, aerial acts and standup. Tickets include hors d’oeuvres and a Champagne toast at midnight. Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., curiouscomedy.org. 8 pm-midnight Friday, Dec. 31. $75 for advance tickets, $90 at the door.
New Year’s Eve at the Hoxton
Since this Old Town-Chinatown property boasts two restaurants with very different styles, you have the opportunity to decide whether you want to attend a sleek, sophisticated soirée on the ground floor or a more raucous psychedelic-themed party on the rooftop. On the first story, Lovely Rita will offer a prix fixe menu curated by chef Joel Lui-Kwan, with seafood and Oregon-raised beef and lamb as the meal’s stars. During dinner, you’ll be treated to a soundtrack of live jazz followed by a sparkling wine toast when the clock strikes midnight. Head upstairs to Tope for an uptempo celebration with a DJ, room to dance on the patio, and a selection of passed “bangers” as well as drink specials. It’ll also be your last chance to see Tope’s trippy Christmas-themed alter ego Holidaze. The Hoxton, 15 NW 4th Ave., 503-770-0500, thehoxton.com. New Year’s Eve at Lovely Rita runs 5 pm to midnight Friday, Dec. 31. $150 per person with an optional $55 wine pairing. New Year’s Eve at Tope runs 7 pm to midnight Friday, Dec. 31. $50 per person.
New Year’s Eve Nine-Course Tasting Menu at Quaintrelle
There’s no better way to bid farewell to another exhausting year than by lulling yourself into a blissful food stupor. Chef Ryan Eckersley will help you get there with a whimsical nine-course dinner made with ingredients sourced from local purveyors. Dishes like lobster fried rice, premium A5 Wagyu with chanterelles coated in Jäeger sauce, and a Mont Blanc tart sound like immediate, decadent mood boosters. Get even more buoyant by indulging in the optional wine pairings and craft cocktails, curated by acclaimed bar manager Camille Cavan. Quaintrelle, 2032 SE Clinton St., 503-200-5787, quaintrelle.co. 5:30 and 8:30 pm Friday, Dec. 31. $175 per person, excluding gratuity and beverage pairings.
Pink Rabbit New Year’s Eve Countdown
If the New Year’s Eve of your dreams includes a good ol’-fashioned balloon drop followed by a passionate makeout session and bottomless sparkling wine, then look no further than Pink Rabbit. The ceiling is rigged and ready to make it rain rubber spheres while the bar has stocked up a substantial supply of Prosecco for bubbly cocktails. Pink Rabbit, 232 NW 12th Ave., pinkrabbitpdx.com. 4 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday, Dec. 31-Jan. 1.
Ring in the New Year at Punch Bowl Social
Ballroom dancing and multicourse meals aren’t everyone’s speed when it comes to celebrating the new year. Anyone who’d rather spend the evening trying to rack up the high score on The Simpsons arcade game or picking up spares in a bowling alley should head to Punch Bowl Social. Sure, the 32,000-square-foot gaming palace may be in a mall, but it fills a wonderful niche in downtown Portland—there’s something on the menu for everyone, a deep beer list and creative cocktails, to boot. During New Year’s Eve, you’ll find three seasonal concoctions: Home for the Holidays! (a sharable brandy-whiskey punch), El Diablo (a Mexican Mule), and High Fashion (aperol, grapefruit syrup, sparkling wine). A live DJ will keep everyone bobbing into 2022, which will be punctuated by a Champagne toast at midnight. Punch Bowl Social, 340 SW Morrison St., #4305, 503-334-0360, punchbowlsocial.com. 11 am-1 am Friday-Saturday, Dec. 31-Jan. 1. $20 cover charge starting at 10 pm.
Roaring ’20s New Year’s Eve Party
Since February 2019, a converted Fred Meyer parking lot in Beaverton has provided a decidedly unpretentious haven for live music. Naturally, then, At the Garages Satellite Pub will usher in the new year with three live bands, along with a buffet, photo booth and dance contest. The celebration also doubles as a farewell to the rock venue’s current location. In January, At the Garages will relocate to a newer facility in Lake Oswego, which will come with some much-welcomed upgrades, including a full kitchen, larger stage and double the show space. At the Garages Satellite Pub, 4810 SW Western Ave., Beaverton, 503-941-9139, atthegarages.net. 6 pm-1 am Friday-Saturday, Dec. 31-Jan. 1. $35.
Trinity Music’s New Year’s Eve Concert
After going remote in 2020 because of the pandemic, Trinity Music is bringing back its in-person annual performance on the last night of the year. The genre-crossing concert features an all-star lineup of local talent, including jazz singer Jessica Israels and the Chuck Israels Sextet, poet Brandt Maina, the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir, Renegade Opera and even a bagpiper thrown in for good measure. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Trinity Food Pantry, which serves more than 23,000 people a year. Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 147 NW 19th Ave., 503-478-1201, trinity-episcopal.org. 7 pm Friday, Dec. 31. $5-$50.
Urdaneta New Year’s Eve Dinner
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to eat your way through San Sebastian’s Old Town pintxo bars and clubs, then a visit to Urdaneta is about as close as you can get without actually buying a plane ticket. And with the uncertainty of the Omicron variant, overseas travel may sound a little dicey right now, anyway. The restaurant is offering a special five-course menu for New Year’s eve, showcasing rich flavors and fresh ingredients in dishes like foie bomba with caviar and a poached pear with white chocolate mousse. Just be sure to find another bar if you want to hoist a glass at midnight—Urdaneta closes at 11 pm. Urdaneta, 3033 NE Alberta St., 503-288-1990, urdanetapdx.com. 5-11 pm Friday, Dec. 31.