Update (12.30.13): Scofflaw, The Whistler, Redmoon, and Sheffield's have sold out.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 942 bars-proper in Cook County. Which theoretically means, other than a serious thirst among Chicagoans, 942 parties to choose from this New Year's Eve. To narrow things down, we've sifted through the club nights and river cruises to pick the soirées most worthy of your midnight toast.
For Low-Key Cocktails
Scofflaw (Sold Out)
'Tis the season to shell out the dough at Chicago's favorite gin joint. With tickets going at $125 a pop, you can bet Danny Shapiro's special New Year's menu will be strong (in every sense of the word).
8 p.m. Scofflaw, 3201 W. Armitage. Tickets: $125
The Whistler (Sold Out)
DJ Gloria Vanderbilt and Pandabrand spin '60s soul, '70s funk, '80s pop, '90s R&B, and '00s hip-hop. You sip the Whistler's favorite cocktails of 2013.
9 p.m. The Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee. Tickets: $99
Redmoon Theater Presents New Year's Revolution (Sold Out)
Aerial dancers. Pyrotechnics. Hot air balloons. A wine bike. What more could you pack into Redmoon's 57,000-square-foot warehouse? (How about a Champagne chandelier?)
9 p.m. Redmoon Theater, 2120 S. Jefferson. Tickets: $100-150
Chicago Scene Invades the Drake Hotel
General consensus is that entertainment moguls Chicago Scene's New Year's party at the Drake is annually "the place to be"—which means it will probably look like an early-aughts P. Diddy music video. Still worth attending to see 2,500 Chicagoans in one room.
9 p.m. The Drake Hotel, 140 E. Walton. Tickets: $135 to $215
Windy City Soul Club at Logan Square Auditorium
For the sensible revelers looking to keep New Year's costs in the double digits, Windy City Soul Club will be spinning budget-friendly Motown in Logan Square. Get yourself a PBR and boogie.
8 p.m. Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie. Tickets: $15 to $20
Arts & Entertainment
New Year's with iO Improv
Choose between iO's interactive game show or the less-demanding Whirled News Tonight—a year-in-review sketch show based on audience-picked news stories from 2013. Both shows include an open bar, Champagne toast, and the ever-elusive "party favors." (Your guess is as good as ours; indulge at your own risk.)
10:30 p.m. iO Chicago Theater, 3541 N. Clark. Tickets: $65
Moulin Rouge! at the Music Box
For those who'd rather watch a red-hot gala than attend one themselves, Music Box Theatre will screen Baz Luhrmann's booze-soaked tearjerker (plus live entertainment, audience participation, and, of course, refreshments).
9:30 p.m. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. Tickets: $55
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
The Neo-Futurists theatre troupe recount 2013 through 30 plays in 60 minutes.
Refreshments at 9:30 p.m., show at 11 p.m. The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. Tickets: $50
Sons of the Silent Age play the music of David Bowie
Need we say more?
8 p.m. Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse. Tickets: $25
Schtickless Bar Packages
Sheffield's (Sold Out)
At Sheffield's, 95 bucks will get you appetizers, a Champagne toast, "party favors" (again, we have no idea), and five hours' open bar. With more than 40 beers on tap, you could do some serious damage. Park your butt on a stool and have at it.
8 p.m. Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield. Tickets: $95
Like every other night of the year, the Burlington will celebrate with two-dollar PBRs and live music (The Kuhls, Grandkids, and Sons of the West). To zest things up, they've thrown five-dollar Champagne on the menu. Whoa, guys.
8 p.m. The Burlington, 3425 W. Fullerton. $8 cover.