los angeles | Drink + Dine

The 12-Grape Ceremony and a Very Bazaar New Year’s Eve

December 16, 2015
Written by: Lil Newman
Editorial Manager, Marketing Manager

Looking for a new tradition to ring in the new year? Look no further than SLS Beverly Hills and their 5th Annual New Year’s Eve “Spanish Masquerade”! This legendary fete features multiple dining areas and tray-passed tapas by the James Beard award-winning Chef José Andrés. There will be no shortage of libations either. Sip on cava and wine or choose your favorite specialty drink at several cocktail stations throughout the night. Live entertainment, dancing, and a special 12-Grape ceremony from Spain will christen the night at midnight. Here is where the tradition lies.

As midnight nears on Nochevieja, or “old night,” the last day of the year, the entire country gathers in front of television screens or in town squares, clutching a small bowl of green grapes while wearing red underwear.

The camera of the main national TV channel focuses on the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol while a pair of announcers in formal wear, high above the thousands of revelers packed into the chilly plaza below, quickly repeat instructions one last time. After the bells ring out four times in quick succession — “Wait, wait, ignore those!” — there is a slight pause and then begins a series of 12 chimes — one for each month.

At that first dong, Spaniards from Barcelona to Bilbao to Cadiz pop a grape into their mouths. There is little time to chew and swallow, much less savor, because about two seconds later there is a second dong and a second grape gets popped into the mouth. And on through 12 dongs and las doce uvas de la suerte (“the 12 lucky grapes”).

If you eat all 12 by the end of the final bell’s toll — and that doesn’t mean finishing with a half-chewed mouthful — then you will have good luck in el año nuevo (the New Year).

It’s already tradition at SLS Beverly Hills, but can now be for you as well! Be sure to reserve your tickets HERE.