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Celebrating the New Year: Private Newport Style

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Thrilled to be Newport Life Magazine’s inaugural blogger for their new #MyNewportLife blog series, Shout Out Sunday. Enjoy this reminiscence of New Year’s Eve weekend 2016/2017!


New Year’s Eve is probably the most enduring tradition of our years in Newport — dear friends come up from New York City for the two and a half days and we spend the evening at Bouchard’s Restaurant — as we have for nineteen years. Our friends arrive late the afternoon of the 31st, laden with amusing gifts and the latest designer olive oil offerings; we pop the cork and settle in for a long catch up by the fire (before a quick nap). Two dear Newport friends also added their notes to the evening this year…Orest Zaklynsky delivered cocktail salmon that he caught and smoked in Iceland; and Steve Grimes, a musician, made a disc of “cuvees” (a blend of his favorite classics) and shared them with us.

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Come nine o’clock, we’re out the door for Bouchard’s, in black tie (which adds another festive note) and join our table guests — Paula and Michael Murray, and Angela and Garry Fischer. Other plans throughout the year may change and other tablemates but our New Year’s Eve plans are steadfast!

Bouchard’s has a six-course dinner, with paired wines, that is just too delicious to ever prompt us to consider an alternative (although if memory serves me, we did host a millennium party at home that year). Invitations and temptations have come our way, but Newport is such a civilized place to spend this important evening — saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new.

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Having this tradition also helps lessen the letdown after Christmas…but this seemed a particularly “happy” end-of-the-year with more opportunities to be with friends from all different sets in town. New Year’s Day itself also carries some long-standing traditions. My friend and I head to the Clarke Cooke House for a very late brunch (I’m always reminded that this Newport favorite has the longest and most creative list of “Eggs Benedict” offerings), departing as the sun wanes in the western sky — making for a wonderful shot like this.

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Then we meet up with our husbands who have been at the annual lunch at their men’s club. Six-thirty pm and we’re in the car headed to the comfy home of Elizabeth and Earl McMillen, Southerners who provide their brand of a good luck New Year’s menu…cheese grits and southern ham, collards and black-eyed peas, biscuits and deviled eggs…which make for a lot of smiling faces.

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And we’re not finished yet; the next day dawns on another tradition that has moved from the first to the second of January…a long lunch at Nannette and George Herrick’s who make a year round tradition of wonderful weekend and holiday lunches…which always start with a first course of oysters from the raw bar.

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Of course, what’s New Year’s Eve, and the lead up, without the bubbles – and lots of them. My thoughtful intern gave me this carrying case to include one bottle of Veuve Clicquot; love the travel notes all over it which seem timely as I head off to Europe mid-January. Happy New Year!

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Hope there are some inspirations here for your next New Years Eve celebration!

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

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