Brunch Bill Breaks Ban on Breakfast Booze

The mimosas will flow a little earlier at Sunday morning brunches in New York state.

On June 14, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced the passage of legislation nicknamed the “Brunch Bill” that aimed to modernize the Alcohol Beverage Control Law. The law revised consumption regulations to allow restaurants and bars to begin serving alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays. In addition, restaurants can apply for up to 12 permits a year that will allow them to serve alcohol as early as 8 a.m.

On Sept. 7, Cuomo signed the law, which will become effective in November. According to the New York State Liquor Authority’s website, New York first enacted the Alcohol Beverage Control Law in 1934, mere months after President Franklin D. Roosevelt repealed the 18th Amendment. The passage of the legislation has enthused many who see it as an overdue repeal of Prohibition-era policy.

“We’ve worked hard to cut red tape, lower costs and roll back burdensome regulations to help New York’s craft beverage industry thrive and create jobs, as well as some of the best beer, wine, cider and distilled spirits in the world,” Cuomo said in a press release on June 14. “This agreement to overhaul this state’s archaic blue laws will build upon these ongoing efforts by knocking down artificial barriers for restaurants and small businesses and helping this industry grow even stronger.”

Hogan Popkess, the beverage manager at Main Course Catering, supports the decision to update the law after nearly 80 years. He said that their Sunday brunch crowd typically only orders mimosas or Bloody Marys, adding that for some, it was difficult having to “watch the clock and wait until noon to buy alcohol.”

Popkess said that while the effects of the legislation might not make a huge difference for their sit-down business, it will pay dividends for their catering services. Popkess said that they would likely apply for the handful of 8 a.m. alcohol permits to boost their catering business. He explained how most customers end up renting a property and ordering their catering, only to have to supply their own alcohol for the morning hours. Now, Main Course and other caterers will be able to supply a larger portion of the alcohol.

“We plan on taking advantage of that, especially for weddings and brunches,” Popkess said. “It doesn’t really affect our other days but it certainly helps on Sunday.”

Popkess speculated that there would be more changes to come in the world of alcohol sales in the state. He added that this legislation is just the latest in a series of moves by the Cuomo administration to ease burdensome regulations on restaurants around the state.

“I think it definitely has the potential to increase revenues,” Popkess said. “Currently, people can get [alcohol] in the morning in New York City. Now the same opportunity will expand and be available for the state and the community here in New Paltz.”