Amateur Night for Pros

It’s the coldest night of the year, and not just because of the weather. At 12:15 a.m., your cab is hailed away from you by a gaggle of rubes. A fight breaks out on your left. People are making out to your right. Beautiful girls, stumbling, stuff their mouths with food-cart gyros. Someone is yelling obscenities. Someone else, probably wearing a sparkly party hat, is blowing a paper horn in your ear. At this point, anyone would call it a night. But then, one of three things happen: (1) Your buddy decides that tonight will be an all-nighter, no matter what, (2) the intoxicants kick in, or (3) you fall in love at first sight. Suddenly, the night is very young. Here’s what to do.

11:30 p.m. Reserve a Gotham Limo Town Car ($60 per hour, eight-hour minimum; 718-433-2776). Unless you don’t mind taking a chance on gypsy cabs, your taxi odds are poor. If you’re going all night, you might as well go all out, and momentum is key.

12:03 a.m. St. Jean Baptiste Church, 184 E. 76th St., nr. Lexington Ave.
Sneak into midnight Mass before the doors close, sink to your knees, and confess the sins you’re about to commit. Avoid eye contact with the pious, say a quickie prayer for a good year, then scram.

12:15 a.m. Central Park, Fifth Ave. nr. 72nd St.
Resolution No. 1: a healthy conscience. Resolution No. 2: a healthy body. Get started on the second by jumping midway into the New York Road Runners Midnight Run Race. Sure, it started at midnight, and you skipped the $35 entry fee, but do you really want to run the full four miles? Don’t worry; you’ll blend in fine with the drunk-and-costumed crowd (yes, costumed—there was a parade and fireworks earlier).

12:53 a.m. Juvenex Spa, 25 W. 32nd St., nr. Fifth Ave.
You’ll need to recuperate from your run, so soak in the hydrotherapy tub, activate the river jets, and add sake (for the bath; potable only if you’re that far gone) at this 24-hour spa. Ahh … a relaxing, preemptive detox.

2 a.m. Bed New York, 530 W. 27th St., nr. Tenth Ave.
It’s time to party again. Head to this duplex penthouse loft, drape yourself on a rooftop bed, knock back some free aspirin with a champagne cocktail, and enjoy the 360-degree view of the skyline—tonight, Bed is previewing its new heated, glass-enclosed rooftop.

2:45 a.m. The Dove, 228 Thompson St., nr. W. 3rd St.
Wondering what 2006 holds in store? Get back on your feet and head to this faux-Victorian parlor, where a fortune-teller is reading horoscopes free until 3 a.m.

3:05 a.m. Stereo, 512 W. 29th St., nr. Tenth Ave.
On to the next club. Stop in to this relatively laid-back spot for reduced-price bottle service—a mere $150 gets you a table with Veuve Clicquot or Grey Goose.

3:45 a.m. Cipriani, 42nd St. nr. Lexington Ave.
Time to go uptown. Ryan Seacrest and Mariah Carey will be gone by now (no great loss), but your chances of getting into the night’s biggest after-party are better a few hours after the 1 a.m. opening. Tickets are $100, but who’s counting at this point? Dance to D.J. Clue’s hip-hop and house.

5:15 a.m. Zaro’s, Grand Central Terminal
Something tells us that Cipriani’s continental breakfast will be rationed to guests on good behavior, and that’s not you. So skip across the street and pick up coffee.

Final Stop: . Rockaway Beach
6:15 a.m. Here’s where the Town Car pays off. Drive out to Rockaway, past 116th Street—the farther you go, the nicer it gets. Stroll down the sand, unpack your picnic basket (see right), and find a good, soft spot to lie back and watch the very first sunrise of the New Year.
—Denise Penny

What to Pack for the Beach
Ilene Rosen, savory chef at City Bakery, has assembled a sunrise picnic with sentimental and nutritional value.

“These qualify as comfort food for me and represent home,” she says. “Everything was chosen for its extreme deliciousness.”

City Bakery hot chocolate and pretzel croissants
“The hot chocolate is incredibly luxurious and rich; with the croissant, you’ve got the hot, sweet, salty, unctuous—all your flavors and textures at once.”

Roast duck and fish-ball congee from NY Noodletown
“I used to make this congee every day. I’m a big fish-ball fan. It’s like the Jewish breakfast fish thing.”

Smoked-trout salad and kippered salmon from Russ & Daughters with sesame bagels from Ess-a-Bagel
“Russ & Daughters is the most delicious of its kind. I ate some combination of these foods every Sunday morning growing up.”

Mt. Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery at Murray’s with baby arugula from Windfall Farms at the Union Square Greenmarket
“This gives our basket something healthy. These are the best greens I’ve had anywhere. The Mt. Tam cheese is the kind of thing you bite into and have to close your eyes.”

City Bakery Milky Way tart with Billecart-Salmon brut rosé champagne
“I don’t drink champagne all that often, but this is the perfect occasion champagne. The tart is homey, and it reminds you of a Milky Way candy bar.”
—Katie Charles

See also: Toast the New Year at one of these swank new champagne bars.

Additional reporting by Brian Niemietz.

Amateur Night for Pros