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We hear the ABC has been on the prowl telling folks to stop doing bottomless brunch.

What’s the big deal? Everyone is doing it, right?

The ABC is probably not happy with the term “bottomless” for a few reasons:

  1. Giving away alcohol. It is illegal in Tennessee to sell or give away alcohol at less than cost. Although it may take 12 drinks to constitute giving away for a $12.00 brunch special, there is a point where you are selling alcohol below cost.
  2. Intoxication. You cannot serve an unlimited number of drinks. It is illegal to serve alcohol to someone that is visibly intoxicated.
  3. Misleading. It is not truly “bottomless” if you have to cut folks off.

Based on the ABC inquiry, we recommend that restaurants and bars stop using terms like “bottomless,” “endless,” and “never-ending.” The ABC may put you under the magnifying glass if you continue to use these terms. Who needs the proverbial heat from the fuzz just for selling cheap fizzy bubbles?

All this talk about bottomless reminds us of our favorite Whiskeytown song, Bottom of the Glass:

Well the wine will flow and the pain will go but the spell will never last,

You’ll never find the answer in the bottom of the glass.

We recommend implementing a marketing term for brunch that appeals to your consumers but does not include words that indicate endless. Think:

  • Bubbles Galore
  • Hair of the Dog
  • World Famous Bloody Bar

In addition, include the proverbial “fine print” on your menu that conveys a message similar to the following: “Plenty of cocktails for you to enjoy responsibly. We reserve the right to limit the number of drinks served.”  You can be cute, clever or just include something simple. 

Although you do not need to include a hard and fast cutoff in advertising, we also recommend that you make rules and train staff to limit customer consumption. For example, you could limit drinks to no more than three per hour with a six drink maximum. This addresses both the intoxication and giving away alcohol concerns from the ABC. 

We are glad to see the ABC out-educating folks about the perils of bottomless. As purveyors of alcohol, moderation is the message.  All the focus on greatly discounted alcohol at brunch is not good for the industry.

Stay in touch.  Please let us know how it is going for you.

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