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Times Square is ready to (virtually) party like it’s 2021
New Yorkers won’t be packing into Times Square to ring in 2021, or crowding around a bar, waiting not-so-patiently for that complimentary glass of Champagne.
New Year’s Eve celebrations will be different because of COVID-19 — but those lucky enough to have a big bank account aren’t just sitting home — they’re booking heated glass houses on the East River or having caviar with their pals.
Especially hot are restaurant-prepped DYI meal kits with a Zoom link that let people partying at home watch comedy shows, mixology sessions or DJs spin music all night long, Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told The Post.
“Restaurants are trying to be as creative and innovative as possible … for the COVID-19 new year,” Rigie said.
Blow my mind
For $195 a guest, the Michelin-starred Musket Room is serving up a Zoom link for a half-hour show by mentalist Mark Clearview along with a three-course dinner — omnivore or vegetarian — and a specialty “elixir,” events manager Camilla Gray told The Post.
The restaurant’s “spirit whisperer” Melissa Brooke has created four cocktails that partyers can choose from, depending on what they’re hoping for in the new year: love and compassion, good fortune and prosperity, peace and new beginnings or abundance and success.
“We created this package … to create the vibe that we all miss in the absence of social interactions,” said owner Jennifer Vitagliano. “We hope it fills a void in chatting with a favorite bartender, going out to see a show, eating chef prepared meals and meeting new people.”
A clear view
The Watermark at Pier 15 downtown is already 75% booked for its Dec. 31 offering: 22 glasshouses ranging from $500 to $2,000, depending on the table size. Each is heated and lit, with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop.
They’ll do two seatings — one from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the other from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., spokeswoman Dianna DelPrete told The Post. Reservations close when the space runs out.
For their money, early partygoers get a bottle of Moet Champagne for the table, hats, noise-makers and snacks including coconut shrimp, crab spring rolls, boneless wings and guacamole and chips.
The late crowd pays more but gets more — a complimentary Champagne welcome reception, a premium special cocktail open bar and higher-end eats like smoked salmon and spicy tuna tartare.
Jumbo screens will show old Christmas movies and the fun includes a mock ball drop, DelPrete said.
But lights will be out by 10 to stay within coronavirus restrictions.
“We will give tables a last call,” she said, “because of the weird circumstances.”
Requests are streaming in to Marky’s Caviar on Madison Avenue for both the dinner, which costs $200 a head, and the caviar-only service that can run into the thousands.
Pandemic restrictions mean the shop is doing only pickup orders.
“For people who are wanting to stay home, we can help them celebrate with elegance,” owner Danielle Zaslavskaya told The Post.
The menu by chef Buddha Lo and his crew at Marky’s chic-casual restaurant HŪSO includes an array of seafood appetizers such as crab legs, salmon, oysters, prawns and caviar; wagyu beef Wellington with a black truffle sauce and white truffle mashed potatoes; and a warm chocolate tart with vanilla bean creme fraiche.
“You get quite a lot of food,” Zaslavskaya said, “and it’s all gourmet.”
The caviar service costs whatever you’re willing to shell out. The international flight costs $640 for 3 ounces — an ounce each of Almas Russian Osetra, Russian Royal Osetra and Kaluga Imperial Gold — and is served with creme fraiche, eggs, chives, onion, and a dozen blini. And if 3 ounces isn’t enough caviar, you can buy another 100 grams — almost a quarter-pound — of Almas Russian Osetra for $1,565.
Brooklyn has exclusive spaces, too. The outdoor garden behind neighborhood bar Tuffet in Williamsburg is still available for a few thousand.
Alicia Rebensdorf is offering up the courtyard for a minimum of roughly $4,000 — $2,000 for the space plus her premium open bar package at $70 a head for at least 25 guests, tax and a 20% tip. Party platters are extra.
And the owner/manager is following lockdown rules, so beware: Capacity is capped at 35 and the partying will stop when the clock strikes 10.
The space usually runs slightly cheaper — $1,200 — for weddings, engagements, baby showers and the like. But a new year is special and comes with a special price.
“It is New Year’s Eve,” Rebensdorf told The Post.
Unless Rebensdorf gets someone to book the garden, she is hoping to sell out the garden’s nine tables — four that seat six and five for two or three. So far, she has one reservation.
“If I do get a party, I can probably take it,” she said. “These are regulars and they’d understand.”
Nothing to cheer
With outdoor dining only and the early closing time, all restaurants and bars will have a tough go on what would normally be one of their biggest nights of the year, an industry advocate told The Post.
“It’s a dire situation,” said Rigie. “People feel like the ball’s dropping on top of their head.”
Many restaurants lose money all year, Rigie said, and hope to close the gap during the holiday season.
This year will be different, he said: “It’s a complete wipe out.”
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