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Where to drink and eat for New Year's Eve in NYC

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It's almost New Year's Eve, 2014 is nearly here, and you still don't have an answer to "what are you doing for New Year's Eve?" lined up. Whether you plan to spend it in Times Square, hit a local bar party, or go out for a quiet dinner before settling into the sofa to watch the ball drop from the comfort of your living room, we've got you covered:

Moet & Chandon Champagne is ringing in the New Year as the official champagne sponsor of Times Square New Year's Eve. Despite the fact you're no longer allowed to drink anywhere at the massive outdoor event, you'll get to dream about bubbles with 11-foot-tall representations of Moet & Chandon bottles stationed around the square. Take your picture with the bottle and Tweet / Instagram it, and there's a possibility your virtual toast will be featured on the Jumbotron for all to see.

Villard Michel Richard: The elegant new French Restaurant from chef Michel Rchard (his first in NYC), has put together a group of special prix fixe menu options, with each of his dining areas offering two seatings through the night. In the more casual Bistro section, the earlier seating is a $95, three-course menu with options like lobster bisque or roasted beet salad, pan-seared salad, filet mignon or mushroom risotto, and a dessert of creme brulee or a special chocolate bar. The second seating ($190) ups the ante with choices from a five-course menu, like Oyster Rockefeller, a smoked salmon terrine, sea bass or lobster, Long Island duck breast and a "snowball" 2014 for dessert. The second seating includes live entertainment and a Champagne Toast. For the more formal Gallery room, the earlier menu ($185) features options like a foie gras terrine, Maine lobster kataifi in a sea urchin emulsion and venison for the main course, with a selections of petit fours for dessert. The later seating ($575) expands to five courses, includes the other options, along with a Nantucket bay scallop chowder, risotto winter black truffle and foie gras, an expanded dessert menu (again featuring the snowball), live entertainment, wine pairings throughout the meal and a Champagne toast. Inside the New York Palace Hotel, 455 Madison Ave (between 50th and 51st), 212.891.8100 villardmichelrichard.com

The Strand Smokehouse: It can be frustrating when your corner bar is charging $100 for a crowded party, fueled by an iTunes playlist and a glass of bad sparkling wine. Reject the trend at Smokehouse. This Queens beer, bourbon and BBQ destination is hosting a no-cover-charge party all night long, with barbecued meats priced by the pound, 16 taps featuring local draft beers and $10 cocktails. Raffled giveaways give you the opportunity to win fun stuff, while live music and a post-midnight DJ will have you bouncing along with the big-screen projected ball drop. Doors open at 4 p.m. 25-27 Broadway (near 29th St), Astoria, 718.440.3231 thestrandsmokehouse.com

North River: Another brand new restaurant, this one in the East Village, is offering up a New Year's Eve fixed price four-course menu for $80. Helmed by husband-and-wife owners Colby and Sarah Zito, with chef Adam Starowicz (Momofuko Ko) in the kitchen, the restaurant will serve up retro-American throwbacks like Oysters Rockefeller, Waldorf salad and a Holiday Ham with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries among other classics. A spiced sticky pudding or lemon-and-raspberry trifle will top off the meal. 166 1st Ave (at 10th Street), 212.228.1200 northriverny.com

BLT Fish: Now that lobster rolls are a year-round treat, consider counting down the clock at this stylish Flatiron "fish shack." $75 (at the door, $65 in advance) gets you an open bar, seafood specials, a DJ and Champagne toast, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. You can also sit down to a $125 prix fixe, five-course tasting menu upstairs featuring items like Peekytoe crab ravioli and Maine lobster/short rib daub "surf and turf." The tasting menu includes a ticket to the party downstairs after dinner. 21 W 17th St (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) 212.691.8888 e2hospitality.com/blt-fish-new-york/

Hospoda: The two-year-old UES beer-inspired restaurant is about to turn three. To celebrate, they are hosting a 14-course tasting menu on New Year's Eve, designed around the concept of the four seasons. Chef Rene Stein (who is also celebrating his birthday that night) will prepare many of the courses in front of the diners, and each course is paired with a special beer, wine or cocktail. There are only 40 seats for this $200 per person event (does not include tax and tip), so call for any last-minute availability. 321 East 73rd St (between 1st and 2nd Aves), 212.861.1038 hospodanyc.com

Hecho en Dumbo: We usually go for Mexican food *after* a night of revelry, but this cool spot wants you to get a head start shouting "¡Feliz Ano!" with a $75 unlimited Antojitos dinner and Champagne toast at midnight. Salón Hecho starts at 10 p.m., with a variety of toppings available on house-made corn tortillas, sopes and tostadas. Live mariachi bands and DJ sets from Heroes of the Galeon Trade keep you tapping your toes through midnight. For another $100, you'll have access to a premium open bar throughout the evening. 354 Bowery (between East 4th and Great Jones St), 212.937.4245 hechoendumbo.com

Wallsé: On New Year's Day, the city gets eerily quiet. And while you can attend marathon poetry readings, walk the Brooklyn Bridge or dive into the icy waters at the Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge, perhaps the hangover you're nursing is simply craving a good, rich brunch. Wallsé chef Kurt Gutenbrunner has got you covered. The Austrian fine dining restaurant will be serving up delictables like Baked Egg with Cream Spinach and White Truffle or a Caviar Omelet, all paired with Billecart-Salmon Champagne. 344 W 11th St (at Washington St), 212.352.2300 kg-ny.com/wallse

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Thirsty for more? Check out National Spirits Examiner or NY Drinks Examiner.
Do you have a cocktail trend, new product, bar or teahouse you'd like me to review? Want to give me a heads-up on your favorite hot spot? Please email me at NYDrinksExaminer AT gmail.com. Or follow me on Twitter @roberthp.

FTC Disclaimer: The author sometimes receives product samples for review, which carry no cash value and cannot be re-sold, and sometimes attends press events such as lunches or cocktail parties, designed to promote a given product. The author is not paid by any alcohol manufacturer, retailer or distributor, or provided compensation apart from revenue from an assigning publishing company for editorial publication. Opinions are the author's own. By the way, you should be 21 or older to read this page. Author received no comps or samples in connection with this article, but wouldn't mind if Ryan Seacrest wanted to raise a Champagne toast in his honor.

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