December 31 – National Champagne Day
I can’t believe it’s already the end of the year…wow, where did 2012 go? When you think of New Year’s Eve, there’s really only one national food holiday you could celebrate…National Champagne Day! Contrary to what the alcohol industry wants you to believe, champagne can’t be purchased from just anywhere: it has to be made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. This is where sparkling wine was invented, in a process that allows double fermentation of the grapes (making champagne both bubbly and boozy). In the region, there are strict rules as to which grapes, processes, and vineyards can produce “true” champagne. All other versions must be called, under international law, “sparkling wine,” which can be made sparkling either from double fermentation or by mechanically adding carbonation to the wine. So if you think you fancy with your bottle of André champagne tonight, think again! 😛
You probably already have your plans for midnight of New Year’s Eve, whether it be at a swanky open bar event, or just a quiet evening at home…or even braving the cold (and the sea of tourists) in Times Square for the ball drop. But just in case you’re looking for some last-minute place to toast some bubbly at midnight, there are a few champagne bars in New York that are worth looking into. The Flûte Bar, with two locations in Gramercy Park and Midtown, is one of the trendiest places to sip a tall glass of champagne to ring in the New Year. They have the real deal here–champagne only from the region in France–and they’ve got lots of varieties to choose from. With a contemporary atmosphere that is trendy, but not toolish, you can enjoy your champagne either in a private room for groups or in the main lounge, which also has “privacy” curtains around the booths for a more intimate chamagne experience. You won’t get the bridge and tunnel crowd spilling their cheap sparkling wines while bumping into you on the dubstep dance floor. And for the New Yorker who loves to surround themselves in local history–like me–you’d love to know that Flûte Midtown is housed in an old 20s speakeasy, complete with live jazz music to complement the mood.
205 W 54th St (between 7th Ave & Broadway)
“Both Flûte locations have a unique feel. The Gramercy location is the bigger of the two, and feels like an upscale living room turned bar (if your living room had little nooks to cuddle up in, and a never ending supply of bubbly). The Midtown location feels much more speakeasy-esque. At this basement level lounge things are small, dark, and definitely sexy. The atmosphere at both is aided with live jazz.”–CBS New York
“If you’re in a celebratory mood, Flûte is the place to be. Choose from vintage, non-vintage, prestige cuvee, Rosé, or boutique Champagnes, sparkling wine or cocktails and snuggle into one of their intimate couches. A good place for celebrating with a group (there’s a private room downstairs) or that someone special, this place has loads of sexy appeal with deep red lighting to set the mood and comfy couches in hidden niches (some even with curtains) throughout the room for privacy. They also have a selection of appetizers and desserts, but if you’re getting champagne, we suggest choosing from the list of caviars, with choices from $55-$225. If you’re not a connoisseur of champagne but like to dabble, order one of the four flights of champagne, to try 3 distinctive kinds.”–New York Magazine
“Flute has been the lounge that New Yorkers have been turning to for more than a decade to quench their Champagne thirst. Their two locations in the city give Champagne drinkers a contemporary and intimate interior amongst plush fabrics. Guests choose from an extensive list of Champagnes and sparkling wines. If your friends don’t prefer bubbly, the lounge also has a full bar, inventive sparkling cocktails and delicious small plates. Insider tip: It’s a great place for a date with romantically secluded, curtained nooks.”–Haute Living
“Down a short flight of stairs from the sidewalk, Flûte Midtown operates in a space that was once a speakeasy run by the notorious Texas Guinan—a woman with a brazen disregard of Prohibition, an army of scantily clad showgirls, an arsenal of memorable catch-phrases and a string of New York nightclubs where writers, socialites and shady types rubbed elbows. Flûte Midtown’s speakeasy history is preserved in its subtle lighting and honeycomb of intimate booths. Groups of up to 15 can reserve one of the larger tables, and the L-shaped space is easily partitioned for varying-sized cocktail parties.”–Metromix
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“The first time was on a lark – we wanted to check out the place and ended up staying for a few hours, with champagnes and small finger foods to keep us occupied. There were a few couches and alcoves on the left side of the room, with a bigger open room on the right side. Since it was set a bit lower than ground level, it feels all the more like a speakeasy. Apparently it was a real speakeasy location back in the 20s. If you want to keep it romantic, this is the place to be. We saw all couples come in, or people obviously on double dates.”–Vanessa X.
“We were all pleasantly surprised – the place was almost empty at around 8:30 PM (though it did get a bit busier as we were leaving) but it made for a very cozy, quiet backdrop for catching up, so this girl’s not complaining. Apparently, the space that is now Flute used to be a secret bar during Prohibition, and they’ve definitely maintained that feel in the current establishment – red velvet EVERYTHING, heavy tasseled curtains and super dim lighting, that type of thing. There are some really cute nooks and crannies in which I would have loved to tuck ourselves away – I’d recommend making a reservation if you’re a group of 4+ and requesting a semi-private table if any are available. Oh, and the drinks are top notch (I highly recommend the champagne mojito and bellini-tini). The champagne varies from $9 – $25+ per glass depending on the variety and cocktails are priced at around $12 – $15, which is standard speakeasy pricing in my experience. If you’re in the area and looking for a romantic date spot or a chill, intimate place for drinks with friends, definitely hit up Flute.”–Marina K.
But for the swankiest glass of champagne you can drink this New Years Eve, you’ve got to hit it up in old-school Gilded Age style at the Plaza Hotel. I find it really funny that I’m bookending the calendar year with iconic hotel bars–Bloody Mary Day on January 1 should be celebrated at the bar that brought it to America, the King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel. And National Champagne Day should be celebrated at the Champagne Bar at the Plaza Hotel. The Champagne Bar, so appropriately named, has been around since the Plaza Hotel opened in 1907, and the classical glamour of the time can certainly be felt everywhere in the room, from the sumptuous drapery to the stylish furniture. And the champagne selection is just as high-end: they boast having the world’s top champagne varieties as well as some of the best caviar in the city. The bar is exclusive–I doubt you can just saunter in there this evening, but try if you can!–and the menu can be mind-boggling to the penny-pincher, but this is the epitome of old-school swank in New York City. Make your reservations today for New Years Eve 2013–and ring in the new year in one of the most iconic champagne bars in New York City, and the world.
The Champagne Bar
Plaza Hotel, 768 5th Ave
“Overlooking Fifth Avenue and the Pulitzer Fountain, the new Champagne Bar at The Plaza, a Fairmont Managed Hotel, is reminiscent of the Champagne Porch that was in the same location when the hotel opened its doors in 1907. The most exclusive of the Plaza’s dining venues, which once welcomed legendary figures including the Prince of Wales and Diamond Jim Brady has become a favorite destination of today’s social set. By night, celebrate with the world’s finest champagne, caviar and wines. By day, indulge in freshly baked pastries, light gourmet fare, and specialty coffees.”–The Plaza Hotel
“Crisp, clean, and classy, the champagne bar at the Plaza Hotel is reminiscent of the Champagne Porch that opened there in 1907. The décor is lush, and elegant, and the champagne list is epic, as are the cocktails. You’ll feel like you gone back to a time when sitting to sip was an art form.”–CBS New York
“We all want to sip our delicious Champagne in a private, exclusive setting. That’s what you get when you visit the Champagne Bar with Fifth Avenue views overlooking the Pulitzer Fountain, this exclusive lounge is the place to taste the world’s finest Champagne alongside mother-of-pearl spoons holding caviar. Sipping bubbly here will make you feel like a truly pampered New Yorker.”–Haute Living
“After a $17 million renovation at the historic Fifth Avenue hotel, the new Champagne Bar is the crown jewel of the Plaza. This lobby bar evokes the elegant gentility of its predecessor in the early days of the 1900s. Step back to old Manhattan and imagine you’re Nick & Nora while you pass the evening sipping champagne, or stop in for breakfast before spending the day in Central Park.”–NYC Go
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Great selection of champagne, extremely high backed, throne like, seats. Very discreet, romantic and great for dates or discreet business meetings. The waiters are attentive and fast but does not hover or bother you every two minutes. Definitely a Gossip Girl, Sex and the City type of place. Put on your Laboutins for this place, ladies, and leave the kids home.”–Bratty K.
“My family loves this place. When we dine and drink here it is because we are guests at the Plaza, and it is the perfect place for a light dinner or a happy hour or a night cap. It has a very see and be seen feeling to it, without being overly snooty. The waitstaff is friendly, though sometimes a bit slow. I love the champagne they offer ( I forever pledge my love to thee, Veuve Clicqout) and my Dad can get his brand of Bourbon (Wild Turkey 101) and my Mom and Sister like the Bellini’s. I will say that their price for a glass of the Widow is comparable to everywhere else in the city.”–A M. D.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!