Nanny State

Bottomless Booze Brunch Is Illegal in New York. Boo.


Joe Shlabotnik / photo on flickr

A scene from our dystopian future:

It's an ordinary Sunday morning, when suddenly flak-jacketed State Liquor Board officials bust down the door of a convivial brunch spot, pointing guns at the waiters and shouting: "Put down the pitcher of Bloody Marys and back away slowly, keeping your hands where I can see them!" Patrons, hovering in that terrible middle ground between hungover and tipsy, clutch their heads and hide under wobbly tables laden with undercooked hashbrowns, weeping. The restaurant owner is hauled away in cuffs. 

Apparently all-you-can-drink specials at brunch spots in New York are actually illegal. Luckily for the city's day drinkers, the law has actually been on the books for a long time and is generally not enforced, so the sangria SWAT scenario remains little more a distant nightmare for now.

But in an effort to be helpful, the NYC Hospitality Alliance sent out an email to its member restaurants on Monday reminding them that state law does in fact prohibit the "selling, serving, delivering or offering to patrons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price."

The New York Post is on the case, obviously, grabbing this quote from Robert Bookman, counsel to the NYC Hospitality Alliance.

"I don't think it's a high enforcement priority," he said. "The community boards don't seem to be complaining about it and the customers definitely aren't complaining about it."

Of course, happy customers, happy vendors, and no negative externalities aren't good enough reasons for regulators to leave well enough alone forever. 

But it's not all doom and gloom on the brunch front in America, Virginia just deregulated the advertising of drink specials. So not only are unlimited mimosas totally legal to serve in the Old Dominion, it's even legal for restaurants to tell you about those specials on Twitter.