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Is bottomless brunch illegal in NYC?

Bottomless brunch has become a popular phenomenon in New York City in recent years. But many people have been left wondering whether it is actually legal. This is because the concept of bottomless brunch – where patrons can consume unlimited alcoholic drinks during a set period of time – appears to be at odds with New York’s liquor laws, which prohibit the selling of an unlimited number of drinks for a fixed price. So, is bottomless brunch illegal in NYC? Let’s find out.

Bottomless Brunch: What it is and Why it’s Popular in NYC

Bottomless brunch is a popular option for many New Yorkers on weekends. It is a type of brunch where customers get unlimited alcoholic drinks for a set price. The drinks usually include mimosas, Bloody Marys, and other cocktails.

Bottomless Brunch in NYC

The trend started in the early 2000s and has become a favorite of partygoers looking to have a good time during the day. It has become so popular that many restaurants in New York now offer bottomless brunch.

Why Bottomless Brunch May Be Illegal in NYC

Recently, the legality of bottomless brunch has been called into question. The New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) has strict rules about the service of alcohol, and some of these regulations could make bottomless brunch illegal in NYC.

NY State Liquor Authority

The NYSLA Rules on Serving Alcohol

The NYSLA has issued regulations that prohibit establishments from offering unlimited drinks. This is to help prevent excessive drinking and the negative consequences that come with it. The regulations state that:

  • Licensees cannot sell, serve, or deliver unlimited drinks for a set price or period of time.
  • Licensees must also ensure that alcohol is being served responsibly to avoid over-intoxication.
  • Licensees who violate these regulations could face penalties, including fines and suspension or revocation of their liquor license.

The Liability Issue

In addition to the NYSLA regulations, some legal experts have argued that bottomless brunch could expose restaurant owners and servers to liability. If a customer drinks too much and causes harm to themselves or others, the restaurant could be held responsible for over-serving the customer.

NYC Restaurants

Bottomless Brunch: A Gray Area

Despite the NYSLA rules and liability concerns, some restaurants in New York continue to offer bottomless brunch. However, they do so at their own risk. The authorities have not taken any significant action against bottomless brunch providers, but that could change at any time.

Modification of the Rules

The NYSLA regulations could still be modified to allow bottomless brunch in NYC. Some restaurateurs are calling for a change to the regulations to allow for responsible offering of bottomless drinks. They argue that it would provide a boon for restaurants and the economy at large, particularly with a revenue hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Verdict

As it stands, there is no clear answer on the legality of bottomless brunch in NYC. It is a gray area that could change at any time. Customers looking to indulge in bottomless brunch should be aware that the authorities may eventually step in to enforce the existing rules.

Bottomless Brunch in NYC: What You Need to Know

Bottomless brunch has become a popular weekend activity for many New York City residents and tourists alike. The concept of bottomless brunch involves unlimited drinks, typically mimosas or Bloody Marys, served alongside a brunch meal.

However, there has been much debate surrounding the legality of this popular activity. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the rules and regulations surrounding bottomless brunch in NYC to help you fully understand your rights as a brunch-goer.

The Origins of Bottomless Brunch

Bottomless brunch originated in New York City in the early 2000s, and quickly became a popular trend among young professionals who wanted a more relaxed weekend experience. The concept involves enjoying a leisurely brunch meal while sipping on unlimited alcoholic beverages.

However, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) began investigating the legality of bottomless brunch in 2014, which brought the issue to the public’s attention and sparked widespread debate.

What the Law Says

According to the SLA, serving unlimited alcoholic beverages for a fixed price constitutes as giving away free drinks, which is illegal in New York City. The law states that any establishment serving alcohol must charge a separate fee for each beverage served.

While bottomless brunch may seem like a great deal for customers, it puts the establishment at risk of losing their liquor license and facing criminal charges.

The Penalties

The penalties for violating the alcohol serving laws in New York City can be severe, ranging from fines up to $10,000 to revocation of the establishment’s liquor license. Additionally, the individual(s) responsible for serving the illegal alcohol can face criminal charges and possible jail time.

Some Restaurants and Bars Have Found Loopholes

Despite the strict laws surrounding alcohol service in NYC, some restaurants and bars have found loopholes to offer bottomless brunch without breaking the law. For example, some establishments may offer a “two-hour limit” on the unlimited beverages and charge a separate fee for each drink served after that time frame.

Alternatively, some establishments may offer a set number of drinks for a fixed price, rather than unlimited drinks.

Ordering Drinks Separately

Another way that establishments can offer brunch-goers a bottomless experience without breaking the law is by simply allowing customers to order drinks separately. While this approach may not offer the same type of deal as traditional bottomless brunch, it still offers customers the ability to enjoy a relaxing brunch while sipping on a few drinks.

Why the Law is in Place

The SLA implemented the law to prevent establishments from encouraging excessive drinking and to promote responsible alcohol service. The purpose of the law is to prevent mass consumption of alcohol in a short amount of time, which can lead to dangerous and even fatal consequences.

Alternatives to Bottomless Brunch

For those who still want to enjoy a fun and boozy brunch experience without breaking the law, there are plenty of alternatives to bottomless brunch in NYC. Many establishments offer drink specials during brunch hours, such as discounted mimosas or Bloody Marys.

Alternatively, you can opt for a BYOB brunch where you bring your own champagne and pay a minimal corkage fee.


While bottomless brunch may seem like a fun and harmless activity, it is important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding alcohol service in NYC. By choosing a restaurant or bar that offers alternative drink specials or by bringing your own champagne to a BYOB brunch, you can still enjoy a fun and boozy brunch experience while staying on the right side of the law.

Why is Bottomless Brunch Illegal?

Despite being one of the favorite weekend activities of New Yorkers, bottomless brunch is technically illegal in the city. The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has strict rules that prohibit businesses from selling unlimited drink options, including bottomless brunch. In this section, we’ll look at some of the reasons why bottomless brunch is illegal in NYC.

The Brunch Culture in NYC

New York City is known for its brunch culture, as people love to indulge in a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes while sipping cocktails or bottomless mimosas. However, the authorities believe that bottomless brunch encourages excessive drinking, which can lead to dangerous behaviors. The DCA’s regulations aim to protect the public from businesses that promote excessive drinking.

While alcohol is legal, the authorities have put regulations in place to protect people from harm. The Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for enforcing these regulations in the city, which includes ensuring that businesses do not serve alcohol to already intoxicated patrons.

Unlimited Drink Options

As mentioned earlier, the sale of unlimited drink options is against the law in NYC. This means that businesses cannot sell bottomless brunch, all-you-can-drink specials, or unlimited happy hour deals. These types of promotions encourage excessive drinking and can be dangerous for patrons.

Businesses that violate the city’s rules could face penalties, including hefty fines, suspension of licenses, or revocation of their permits. The city takes the safety of its citizens seriously, which is why it has strict regulations in place to regulate the sale of alcohol in businesses.

Alcohol Advertising Laws

The advertising of alcoholic beverages is also strictly regulated in New York City. The laws around alcohol advertising prohibit businesses from using language or imagery that encourages excessive drinking or portrays alcohol as a means to achieve social or sexual success.

If you’ve ever noticed that alcohol commercials always include messages about drinking in moderation and not driving while drunk, it’s because of these laws. Similarly, businesses that sell alcohol cannot use language or images that encourage patrons to engage in excessive drinking.

The Dangers of Over-Consumption

The risks of over-consumption are high, including alcohol poisoning, aggressive behavior, and accidents. People who engage in binge drinking may experience blackouts, memory problems, and other health issues.

It’s essential for businesses that serve alcohol to monitor patrons’ consumption and ensure that they’re practicing responsible service. By serving people an unlimited amount of alcohol, they put their safety at risk and could harm themselves or others. The regulations around bottomless brunch are in place to protect the public and ensure their safety when consuming alcohol.

The Bottom Line

While bottomless brunch is one of the most popular weekend activities in New York City, it is technically illegal. The DCA has strict regulations around the sale of alcohol, including prohibiting businesses from selling unlimited drink options. The regulations are in place to ensure the safety of the public and discourage excessive drinking, which can lead to harmful behaviors. If you’re planning a weekend brunch, it’s essential to choose a business that practices responsible alcohol service and encourages moderation.

Violation Fine
Unlicensed sale of alcohol $1,000 – $10,000
Allowing underage drinking $2,500 – $10,000
Sale of alcohol to intoxicated person $2,500 – $10,000

Source: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dca/about/penalties-for-violations.page

Bottomless Brunch in NYC

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Enjoy Brunch Responsibly

Now that we’ve answered the question, it’s important to note that while bottomless brunch may not be explicitly illegal in NYC, it’s always essential to drink responsibly and follow the rules set by the establishment. Enjoy the food, the drinks, and the company of your friends, but don’t forget to take care of yourself and others around you. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon for more informative articles and discussions.

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