Some people are lucky enough to have New Year's Eve traditions that they automatically follow every year. For most of us, though, New Year's Eve comes and we are faced with the difficult decision: What to do? What tone do we want to set for ourselves as we say goodbye to the old and welcome the new? And although the Vineyard provides an intimate and pastoral setting rather than a boisterous urban backdrop, it does offer an array of options to choose from.
If you are not looking for a dress-up fancy dinner, but just a good meal and the chance to party, The Wharf in Edgartown is the place. For the third year in a row, the 80s cover band Money Shot will be there to entertain.
"If you're looking for a place to ring in the New Year with live music, we've got that, and a really busy bar crowd that starts around 10 o'clock," says owner Will Coogan. There is a $10 cover to get in, and Money Shot begins their show at 10 pm. "It's definitely casual," Mr. Coogan says, and adds that he expects around 200 people to attend.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Mr. Coogan also explained that they have an extended last call allowing them to serve alcohol until 1:30 am, and the band will play until the end. Grab dinner at The Wharf and catch the show, or simply go when the party begins.
Another casual party can be found at the Portuguese American Club. Although this is a members only party, each member is allowed to bring a fair amount of guests. The P.A. Club has hosted this potluck dinner party for three years, usually having between 80 and 100 revelers. There is a DJ and dancing. The party begins at 7:30 pm and continues until closing.
Caroline Derrig, a long-time bartender at the P.A. Club, explains: "Usually we get a pretty good crowd. It's always a fun party because it's casual and laidback. There's no pressure to get dressed up and all decked out. We have a really nice room for a party. The big fireplace makes it a cozy, festive affair that everyone enjoys."
Also in Oak Bluffs, Seasons is hosting a Brazilian New Year's Eve party. For $25, enjoy music from two Boston-based gigs: the band Asas Do Forro, and DJ Wellington, as well as Brazilian hors d'oeuvres, and a champagne toast. For more information, stop by Seasons.
Then there are those who look forward to a gourmet multi-course meal on New Year's Eve. For the first time, The Oyster Bar Grill in Oak Bluffs is serving a four-course New Year's dinner for $50. Matt Ryan, the beverage and wine director, advises people to make reservations. There are no set seating times, so it is a matter of first call, first reservation choice. Mr. Ryan restates the Oyster Bar Grill's motto: "Great food, libations, and vibrations."
Martha's Vineyard Times file photo
Susan Goldstein, owner of the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, looks forward to preparing a festive evening at Zephrus. She notes that on First Night there is always a "great feeling in town - a wonderful local feeling," and explains that the Mansion House will be festively decorated and guests are welcome to stay and watch the ball drop on their eight-foot screen in one of their function rooms.
Zephrus offers a pre-fixe menu for $68, but for those who make their reservations by December 29, $48. Non-Islanders who reserve two nights at the Mansion House (think visiting relatives) will receive dinner for free. Robert Lionette, Zephrus chef, provides a special menu with the theme "Land, Sea, and Air." Zephrus is BYOB, which can help make your dinner more affordable, and Ms. Goldstein points out that Island package stores deliver if called ahead of time.
"When times are challenging it's the perfect time to get together with family and friends," Ms. Goldstein says.
Along with other restaurants in Edgartown, fine dining and entertainment can be found at Alchemy and at Water Street. Along with an elegant dinner, Alchemy will serve up Johnny Hoy and the bluefish. Water Street's $95 prix-fixe menu includes a six-course dinner, party favors, and music from the Mike Benjamin Band. Dinner starts at 7 pm and the music begins at 9 pm.
Get out the taffeta and top hats. Up-Island, Lambert's Cove Inn offers its fourth annual black-tie evening and cabaret show. Scott Jones, one of the owners, remembers, "When we first came up with the idea back in 2005, people thought we were foolish and that no one would be interested in a black-tie event. Since then it has just been a packed event. People get really dressed up. It offers something a little bit different, a time to get dressy instead of being casual."
He says 95 percent of the customers are in full tuxedos and evening gowns, which go along well with the décor featuring hundreds of black, gold, and silver balloons.
This year's cabaret show begins at 10:30 pm, and features Broadway performer Kathy St. George, who has been in "Menopause the Musical," "Fiddler on the Roof," and "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."
Although the cabaret dinner is formal, there is an early, more casual dinner at 5:30 pm for $100. The 8:30 pm seating is formal and includes the cabaret show for $150. Both are pre-fixe four-course menus and include hats, horns, and champagne. Reservations are required.
No matter how you begin your new year, have a healthy, happy, and safe 2009.
Dena Ventura is a freelance writer living in Oak Bluffs.