Liquor Authority Clarifies What Legislation Targets, But Concerns To Continue

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Confusion set in Wednesday after word of a little-known New York state liquor law surfaced.

It threatens to end weekend brunch traditions for many, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported.

Unlimited drink offers are ever popular, but in the city and throughout the state the word is spreading that they are actually illegal.

“It’s a little overzealous legislation I’d say,” said Diana Bowman of Manhattan. “As long as you’re 21 or older I think you’re old enough to have a drink or two or three.”

The law, which is listed on the Liquor Authority’s website, prohibits the serving of “unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price.”

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it, so I was pretty surprised,” said Kenneth Fisherman, who owns the Guilty Goose in Chelsea, which offers bottomless mimosas and even craft beer.

He’s not alone. From the city to Westchester County to Long Island there are dozens of restaurants listed that offer unlimited drinks, most often during weekend brunches.

“You’re buying into exactly what you want, so if you just want two mimosas that’s basically the cost of what it would be and if you want more then basically you’re doing pretty well,” Fisherman said.

Word of the law spread quickly this week after the New York City Hospitality Alliance sent an alert to restaurants, urging them to not offer unlimited deals.

Robert Bookman represents the group and said the law was passed several years ago.

“It resulted from a lot of complaints concerning bars and clubs that were doing all you can drink offers 4 to 7, all you want and there were legitimate complaints of over-consumption,” Bookman said.

Some foodies poured out their disappointment over the law on social media.

One woman tweeted “no more bottomless mimosas in nyc? Let me go cry!”

However, late Wednesday the Liquor Authority may have dried her tears, saying in a statement: “There is a limited exception in the statute when the service of alcohol is incidental to the event, such as in the case of certain brunch specials.”

Fisherman said he was relieved.

“It would be a shame to lose it. I think I would still do okay, but it’s a big draw,’ he said.

It’s a big draw that will continue pouring on the fun — with limits.

The Liquor Authority said restaurants that offer bottomless drinks still have the obligation to not “over serve” customers and that the department will crack down on specials that promote excessive drinking.

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