We've never understood those package deals at bars -- like the one that, for $40 in advance ($50 at door), gets you all the domestic bottles/well drinks/house wine you can drink at the Velvet Dog/Empire Room. We can only imagine the horrific number of trendoid revelers crammed in there for New Year's Eve. What is the appeal of drinking with hundreds of blitzed strangers pressed uncomfortably against you, when the only way to make it to the bar is by scuttling sideways, crablike?
And we're still shuddering at the memory of local TV stations' broadcasts of the Hyatt's entire celebration, when different reporters, dressed in promlike clothes, would "report" from various places in the hotel -- including the room of imprisoned children. Ringing in the New Year with C-list celebrities like Valissa Smith while a million balloons drop on us sounds like something from Dante's fourth circle of hell.
So we're concentrating on New Year's Day. We can't think of a better spot to spend it than The Other Place in downtown Overland Park, which opens at 11 a.m. for the bowl games. It's a sports lover's nirvana -- TVs as far as the eye can see, including two giant screens. OK, so this tends to attract the crowd with the XY chromosome, causing one of our drinkmates to mutter, "There are no hot women here." We felt he could have followed that up with, "Except for you, Night Ranger." But that's all in the past now.
The Other Place serves hearty food to comfort the hangover-ridden. But if you must drink some more, well, you're in a sports bar. Go with the beer -- there's a fine array on tap (eighteen varieties, including Guinness and Fat Tire). The Other Place also has a basic Bloody Mary, which we highly recommend spicing up with fixin's from the Bloody Mary buffet. Tucked away on a counter in front of the kitchen, it includes Tabasco, Worcestershire and A-1 sauces as well as garnishes like celery, pickles, lime and the wily tomolive.
During commercial breaks (and sometimes even overlapping the coaches' interviews), in-house DJs will play either '70s metal rock or '90s wuss rock. This will likely encourage more drinking; the song choices are usually quite dubious. But take comfort in the fact that The Other Place also has Michelob Ultra -- the new low-calorie, low-carb beer advertised with pictures of a man jogging -- on tap. If your New Year's resolution is to lose weight, there's no better way to start than drinking healthy.