NYC Brunch Crowd Shocked, Simply Shocked, That Bottomless Drink Specials Are Illegal

Listen very carefully with your ear turned toward the Big Apple and you will likely hear the combined keening of brunch fans mourning the fact that those bottomless drink specials offered on weekends are actually against the law in New York City. Everything must have a bottom, it turns out, even a Bloody Mary.

It isn’t news to the New York City Hospitality Alliance, which is pointing out this week that any kind of deal where you get unlimited alcoholic beverages for a fixed price are now, and always have been, illegal, points out Eater NY.

According to the law on the books from the State Liquor Authority in New York (which I first spelled, “Liquority Authority” and kinda liked it that way), restaurants are prohibited “from selling, serving, delivering or offering to patrons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price.”

It’s also against the law to let party promoters or organizers holding an event at such a restaurant to do something similar. You’re totally fine to take advantage of a private event’s open bar, like a wedding or Fun Uncle Ted’s 65th Birthday Jam.

The only drink deals that don’t run afoul of this law are two-for-one specials and any discounts that aren’t larger than half off the original price.

And while no one from the SLA is going to come slap your fourth mimosa from your hands at 1 p.m. on a Saturday, don’t be surprised if you start to see your favorite watering holes quietly pulling those bottomless deals from the menu in the face of a likely crackdown.

Look on the bright side, New Yorkers — you’ve still got Happy Hour, unlike your drinking counterparts in Boston. So it could be worse.

You can follow MBQ on Twitter as she tries to cope with the loss of bottomless specials, along with her band of merry brunchers: @marybethquirk

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    That’s what “bottomless drink special” means? Then why did they tell me it meant that they would give me half off of my drinks if I took off my pants?

  2. MathManv2point0 says:

    “prohibited ‘from selling, serving, delivering or offering to patrons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price.’”

    What about for “no” set time? Bottomless drinks forever?

  3. C0Y0TY says:

    Why didn’t anyone tell me unlimited liquor was a thing before it wasn’t any more?

  4. furiousd says:

    I’m curious as to the logic for this law. If I want to offer a certain product for a certain price, why wouldn’t I be allowed to do so?

    • CzarChasm says:

      The reasoning (not saying it is sound) is that people will slam as many drinks as possible during happy hour (probably true) then drive off somewhere to find another happy hour (probably not as true), crashing into pedestrians and other motorists at every opportunity. (that part I made up)

  5. Cara says:

    Would it be illegal to get around this by putting an insanely low price on refills? Keep the current price for the drink, but then charge 25 cents for every refill.