By Jacqueline Runice

New Year’s Eve holds nearly as much expectation and emotional gravitas as Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re with your boo, a bunch of friends or even want to venture out (gasp!) alone, there are plenty of local bars rolling out the cocktail cart and party hats to help you say a fond farewell or give a kick in the pants to 2016.

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Nisei Lounge
3439 N. Sheffield Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 525-0557

If the designer dress and high entry fee for the most TD club in the city elicits a yawn, Wrigleyville’s Nisei Lounge is your NYE destination. It’s not faux retro or intentionally decorated like your bachelor uncle’s basement to be ironically nyuk-nyuky – it’s wonderfully genuine dive decor is simply historic. Open in 1951, it was a welcoming spot for Japanese immigrants and sports the stuff important to a Chicago tavern of old – dartboards, pool table,  jukebox – and just a few modern niceties like newer toilets and an eight line tap. On NYE, Wrigleyville’s oldest bar will serve old school and craft beer, a variety of wine and sturdy cocktails – like it does every other day.

AJ Hudson’s Public House
3801 North Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 348-2767

They were slammed by Brexit and we were floored by the election of 2016 so let’s either celebrate or cry in our beer together on New Year’s Eve at AJ Hudson’s Public House where United Kingdom expatriates, American Anglophiles, and all sorts of Chicagoans congregate. They ring in the New Year twice: first to toast 2017 in the United Kingdom and Ireland at 6 p.m. Chicago time and then again at midnight for us. Start the night early with a pre-party pint, Champagne toast and traditional sing-song of “Auld Lang Syne” for the British New Year. Or end up here, get party favors, Champagne toast, no cover charge and the pub’s open until 3 a.m.

D.S. Tequila
3352 N Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 697-9127

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Price: $75

If you’re looking for an all inclusive experience that’s tons of fun with an affordable ticket to D.S. Tequila in Lakeview where the New Year’s Eve Patio Bash is just $75 (in advance). Your ticket includes in and out access to the heated patio, yummy Southwestern buffet, a four-hour open bar (call liquor  and select beer, no less), Champagne toast at midnight, DJ spinning club tunes) and party favors so you look the part of a celebrating Chicagoan. The food and beverage party package begins at  8 p.m. and goes to the stroke of midnight. There’s a cash bar afterwards but you’ll be in the heart of Boystown so wandering is a must.

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Three Dots And A Dash
435 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 610-4220

If you missed your invitation to winter at Mar-A-Lago again this year, usher in 2017 in a warm tiki hideaway. Three Dots and a Dash presents a tropical luau featuring everything that will tell your senses you’re in the tropics: Polynesian appetizers, colorful decor, signature tiki cocktails in luau mugs and lively tunes for your aural wave “aloha” to the new year.  For tickets and table reservations—including premium VIP seating—check in at the web site. NYE at at Three Dots starts at $95 per person, which is reasonable since you’re saving all that coin on a flight to the Pacific.

Parts And Labor
2700 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 360.7840

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Think your NYE destiny is watching a the ball drop on television with a quart of Schlitz because money is tight? Be off to Logan Square’s Parts and Labor which boasts  16 beers on tap and 33 Craft cans and bottles and if that’s too rich for you on NYE enjoy: $3 PBR, Old Milwaukee, Coors Banquet, High Life, and Old Style (16oz);  $3 shots of Jameson, Fernet Branca, Fernet Menta, Malort, V.O.B., and El Ranchero Tequila; $4 Tecate Tall Boy (16 oz); and a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight. Food specials include a vegan option called the “New Year’s Resolution” – a quinoa burger with avocado creme sauce, tomato, vegan cheese, red onion, spinach saute on a multi oat vegan bun. Meatier types will go for “You’re lying to yourself” which is a triple patty, Jameson chili, nacho cheese, bacon, and fried onion strings. A DJ will be spinning pop, rock and house to move into 2017 and there’s free parking around the back.

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