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Weekend Preview: What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Weekend Preview: What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
GUESTSGillian Flynn, editor-in-chief, Riviera San Diego. Alex Zaragoza, calendar editor and columnist, San Diego CityBeat.

ST. JOHN: New year's eve is upon us! If you don't want to be caught sitting on the couch at midnight, we have some creative ideas for ways to celebrate. With me we have Gillian Flynn, editor in chief of Riviera, San Diego. FLYNN: Thanks for having me. ST. JOHN: And Alex Zaragoza. ZARAGOZA: Hi! Thanks 15. ST. JOHN: Let's start with you, Gillian. One of San Diego's oldest hotels is having its first annual new year's eve party. FLYNN: It is in the ballroom at the U.S. grant. ST. JOHN: That's downtown there near Horton plaza. FLYNN: It is called Bouviac, which is the original name of the old speakeasy that they had there in the 1920s. So the theme of it is going to be the '20s, held in a lavish ballroom. ST. JOHN: So it's a sort of alternative to the nightclub scene, right? FLYNN: It really is. It's for the discerning party goer, for sure. Of there's not going to be any cheap champagne toasts here. ST. JOHN: What makes this so unique? FLYNN: The U.S. grant is an elegant hotel with a stuffy reputation. And it really wants to change that. They have a superior cocktail program that often gets lost in San Diego. The mixologist does some really, really neat things there in these bottled cocktail where is he mixes champagne with vodka. They're a real doozy, I'll tell you. [ LAUGHTER ] ST. JOHN: Okay! All right, so that'll get you in a good mood to be celebrating. So tell us a bit more about the master mixologist. FLYNN: Yeah, Jeff, he's award-winning. Really just an affable guy. Everybody gets sick of that term, mixologist. I wish they'd go back to being bartenders. [ LAUGHTER ] FLYNN: But he does these things, cocktails made French style with champagne yeast. He's latest concoction is made with vodka, ginger, rock handy sugar, and champagne. And also there's about four or five different punch bowls, which is a trend you're seeing too on the cocktail set. And bring on the hangover cures. [ LAUGHTER ] ZARAGOZA: Oh, my God, yeah. ST. JOHN: As well as the drinks, a lot of good drinks down there, there'll be good music too, right? FLYNN: Yeah, Lady Dottie, and some down-tempo DJs and others on the stage. I think it's going to be a good scene on the dance floor. ST. JOHN: Sounds fun! So hopefully they're planning for something that could become a San Diego tradition. FLYNN: I hope so. There's a whole new audience that should be hip to the U.S. grant and what they have there. ST. JOHN: Okay. There's trolleys that go right by. It's struggle and easy to get to. FLYNN: Exactly. And if people want to get a predinner bite for something more casual, you can -- there's so many choices down there. ST. JOHN: Okay. Now, Alex, there are a couple of special events happening in a special place. Sort of an Alice in Wonderland themed place. ZARAGOZA: Vin de Syrah, it's an Alice in Wonderland themed wine and spirits bar in downtown. And the cool thing about it, you have to go down this graffitied rabbit hole to actually get into the place! But even then, once you get down the rabbit hole, you can't actually find the door. So that's part of the cool thing. Once you find the door and get in, you're, like, whoa! This is awesome ST. JOHN: So you leave reality behind! ZARAGOZA: You really do. ST. JOHN: And probably a lot of your identity and ideas of who you are. So on new year's eve, there's a champagne tasting, right? ZARAGOZA: Yes. They have their resident somalier, and he's going to be he basically curated this tasting and picked three of their finest champagnes they have there at the bar. Guests can taste them, and there'll be little snacks in between some nice little bites which will probably keep you from falling asleep. ST. JOHN: I should ask you about the ambience when you get through this rabbit hole. ZARAGOZA: It's really lovely because it's dark and nice mood lightning, and there's like shrubbery. I don't know, it's very cool and very pretty down there. ST. JOHN: Does it feel like a fancy land? ZARAGOZA: Not as much as I thought. I expected maybe, like swirly mad hatter tea party stuff. But it wasn't so insane where you're going to feel like you're on psychedelic mushrooms or anything. [ LAUGHTER ] ST. JOHN: But there will be a party, right? What's the theme? ZARAGOZA: Yes, they're going to have this mid-century Hollywood soirÈe. It's really great. It's a chance to doll yourself up. You could go to somewhere like the girl can't help it in Northpark, are which is this great vintage shop and buy yourself a beautiful vintage dress or even online. And buy yourself a beautiful dress, go out have this old Hollywood glamorous event to go to. ST. JOHN: What a great excuse to go out and get some finely and try on a new important probably too. There's going to be some entertainment there ZARAGOZA: Yes, they have a burlesque group that performs there regularly, called rouge. Very sexy ladies. [ LAUGHTER ] ST. JOHN: What else will be going on down there? ZARAGOZA: Music from a DJ. ST. JOHN: DJ high believe. ZARAGOZA: I believe I'm pronouncing that right! But that'll be cool. And also there's going to be a special appearance by some Hollywood legends, for these photo-ops for your Instagram. Hopefully on the not just a Oui-Ja board or something. [ LAUGHTER ] ST. JOHN: Have you ever been to this place? FLYNN: Yes, I did. ST. JOHN: It was fun? FLYNN: It's great. The designer is Michael Soriano which is a really well known interior designer here in San Diego and is known for his whimsey. And I think he pulled it off. It's a great place to go for some wine and cheese and a light nibble. Of and the lightning is very nice there, which is a benefit compared to other places in the Gaslamp with blaring TVs and bright lights ZARAGOZA: Yeah, there's none of that, which is nice. FLYNN: And it's stayed pretty successful through the years. It hasn't lost its staying power like some of the other neighbors nearby. ZARAGOZA: Oh, burn! [ LAUGHTER ] ST. JOHN: We'll always have Paris, that's the name of it, right? ZARAGOZA: Yes, that is the name of the event. ST. JOHN: Sounds fun. FLYNN: The new Rancho Valencia resort in Rancho Santa Fe. And the name of the event is a sparkling soirÈe. And I will say tickets are $375 per more than. ST. JOHN: Thanks for getting that out right away! FLYNN: It's essentially a progressive party for the elite. And this hotel has really upped the ante on the hospitality scene throughout Southern California, not just San Diego. Jeff Jacobs of the Qualcomm family invested $30 million in this property. It was already a really, really elegant property set on 45 lush acres in Rancho Santa Fe. And no detail has gone unnoticed. There's studded leather walls in the dining room, and there's a dame Hurst as a center piece, and a yoga pavilion, I think it's really a chance to see what is indeed a world-class resort in San Diego. ST. JOHN: Right. Now, what are they going to be doing on new year's eve? FLYNN: The club house and a series of rooms are going to be opened with lots of different kinds of the too, lots of cocktails. The bar is really unlimited. Everything is going to be top shelf, the champagne, the vodka, they make incredible skinny margaritas that are secured for the ladies of Rancho Santa Fe. [ LAUGHTER ] FLYNN: And I'm sure those will be a big hit. It's going to be lavish and decadent and sushi, and sweets on offer throughout the night. And people walk into this room and just ooh and awe. ST. JOHN: There's an executive chef there. FLYNN: Eric Bower, really approachable and nice, which isn't always the case. He'll be there throughout the evening. And the menu is -- he takes a lot of the menu just right from the grounds there. He has a garden there. ST. JOHN: Oh, that's important. FLYNN: And they have more healthy offerings as well. Upon Jeff Jacobs is a triathlete and former iron man. Health is a huge part of the program. They have a huge Olympic bike training facility there for cycle enthusiasts. ST. JOHN: What does the $375 include? A place to stay? FLYNN: No, actually if you want a room for the night, it's their private casitas. They boast jacuzzis and fireplaces, and they go for $700 a night. That would be in addition. But it is as I said a really stunning resort. And it's worth seeing. And I think it's just -- it's upped the hospitality front in San Diego. ST. JOHN: A good place to see and be seen too. A sparkling soirÈe! At the Rancho Valencia in ranch Santa Fe. Now, let's move to something that music lovers might like. The Lafayette hotel, tell us about that. ZARAGOZA: Well, they are having this great musical jamboree, presented by the Casbah. It's great because the hotel is such a piece of San Diego history and also fun, it's beautiful and fun, and it's going to be several bands performing in three different areas in the hotel, which is great. I asked our music editor, Peter Holslin, if this was going to be something cool. And he gave it his stamp of approval. ST. JOHN: AAA? ZARAGOZA: Yeah! So if Peter says it's cool, it definitely is. ST. JOHN: If we wanted to know what kind of music, is this a cross-section? Or a specific genre? ZARAGOZA: It's probably more geared toward people that like indie rock or blues rock or anything like that, for sure. ST. JOHN: Apparently Little Hurricane is going to be performing Haunted Heart. And we have a clip of that. (Audio Recording Played) ST. JOHN: That's one of the bands that's going to be playing at this new year's eve party at the Lafayette hotel in Northpark. The Casbah is putting this on, and they have very good taste in music. Tell us about any of the other bands. Creepy creeps? ZARAGOZA: The creepy creeps, they're such a fun band to see. I've seen them in the past for Halloween shows. They do this kind of great nightmarish surf punk garage type of music. And they're always decked out in full costumes. So it's a cool show to watch. And it's great, fun music to dance to. ST. JOHN: All right. And what about the Armandas? ZARAGOZA: The Armandas are awesome. They're this '60s cover band. So if you're a big fan of '60s music like Etta James and little Richard, stuff like that, they perform a great show, they play every first Friday at the whistle stop. And it is packed in there! ST. JOHN: It sounds like you've give us some really good suggestions of things to do on new year's eve! No excuses for staying home now! You can probably find more details if you heard what Gillian and Alex were talking about but didn't get all the detail, you'll find it on our website at And thank you for being here. FLYNN: Thank you. ZARAGOZA: Thanks so much for having me.

It's never too early to start making plans for New Year's Eve ... and there are plenty of parties and events to choose from throughout San Diego.

Gillian Flynn, editor-in-chief of Riviera San Diego, and Alex Zaragoza, calendar editor and columnist at San Diego CityBeat, share with KPBS Midday Edition their top event picks for ringing in 2013. (Champagne toast at midnight more than likely included.)


One of San Diego’s oldest hotels is launching a new annual New Year’s Eve soiree. “The Bivouac” at downtown's historic US Grant offers an upscale and more intimate party alternative to the nightclub scene. Arrive on the red carpet and then step inside to enjoy a range of different beverage stations, including spiked punch bowls, live music by local blues/soul-rockers Lady Dottie & the Diamonds, and dance the night away to DJ Brett Bodley.

For vintage Hollywood glamor and glitz, head to the "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired Vin de Syrah Spirit and Wine Parlor in the Gaslamp. The bar is paying tribute to the early days of Hollywood with its “We’ll Always Have Paris” theme party. A range of entertainment will unfold throughout the evening, including live burlesque performances, music by DJ Huy Believe and photo ops with the "stars" themselves (Marilyn, Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra and more celebrity impersonators will be mixing and mingling). Prior to the party, the bar will be hosting a champagne tasting from 8-9 p.m. (reservations required; each reservation includes one complimentary ticket to the Hollywood party).

For those looking to indulge (and spend) a bit more than usual on New Year’s Eve, visit the recently remodeled Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe for “A Sparkling Soiree.” The party will be spread throughout the resort's clubhouse, with a variety of music, entertainment and libations in each room, plus tray-passed bites and food stations created by Executive Chef Eric Bauer.

Music lovers will want to spend the night at The Lafayette Hotel in North Park. The Casbah presents its annual rock-and-roll-fueled New Year’s Eve party, featuring a slew of local bands playing in different rooms throughout the hotel. Former San Diego-based blues-rock duo Little Hurricane headlines, along with Get Back Loretta, The Creepy Creeps, Blackout Party, The Amandas, Shake Before Us and Creepxotica.

If you're looking for a mellower affair, but still want to go out, treat yourself with dinner and drinks at some of San Diego's home-grown restaurants.


Flynn suggests a late-night Italian dinner at Monello or Bencotto (both in Little Italy). Make your reservation for 9:30 and stay though midnight when the restaurants will be offering complimentary champagne.

Zaragoza recommends Starlite, which is offering two ways to celebrate: a three-course, prix fixe dinner and/or a late-night party with cocktails and a live DJ.