Brunch – it’s a serious subject. From loaded omelettes to stacked sandwiches, and even breakfast nachos, there’s something for every foodie. And for many around the nation, that menu also includes drinks – specifically, mimosas and bloody marys. Unfortunately for the Texas in-crowd, those drinks have a cap.
The idea of bottomless mimosas – all you can drink champagne and orange juice – is a very real thing. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), however, that offer is a direct violation of their rule against selling “an undetermined quantity of alcoholic beverages for a fixed price or ‘all you can drink’ basis.” Though this is not by any means a new administrative rule, many officials have seemingly been confused about its application – often misstating that it’s just an establishment’s responsibility not to over-serve. No more.
On June 1, 2016, The San Antonio Current published an article in its ‘Brunch Issue’ on local restaurants offering this bottomless deal. The TABC decided to use this ‘hit list’ to distribute warnings and citations. Though that article has since been deleted, the message was made clear to Texas establishments – cap those drink options immediately.
If you think this law is restricted to the Lone Star State, think again. In New York, for example, the “selling, serving, delivering or offering to patrons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price” is illegal. The same can be said for 21 other states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Luckily for those in Washington, D.C., this is not the case. As Jessie Cornelius, a spokesperson with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), recently stated: “there is no law in the District that outright bans bottomless drink specials.” There is, however, a law which prohibits the sale of alcohol to a drunk person, as well as a law stating that a person can’t be served another drink if an unfinished drink remains in front of them.
As with many laws, what’s on the books is not always what’s enforced. But, as was just seen in Texas, application may only be a matter of time for your state. So, enjoy it while you can, because it may not be forever.
Arem Law does not condone drinking in excess. Drink responsibly.
If you think you may have a drinking problem, please seek help.
UPDATE: September 24, 2017
New York may soon be making the list thanks to a concerned Manhattan attorney, Robert Halpern, who filed suit on September 19, 2017 against the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to ban bottomless brunches.
“Bottomless brunches lead to more drinking in the neighborhood, which leads to more noise, more crowds and more uncivil behavior,” Halpern states in his papers, criticizing excessive partying in his once-quiet East Village neighborhood.
Currently, the SLA permits bottomless brunches (endless mimosas and Bloody Mary’s) thanks to an exemption for when “service of alcohol is incidental to the event.” While establishments still cannot ‘over serve’ patrons (see above), the rules are relaxed and generally not enforced. According to Halpern, however, brunches are not special events, comparing them against New Years Eve packages and weddings.
You can read the complaint here.