I'm known as a bottomless brunch type of guy. I take big groups of people to brunch all the time and the bottomless kind is (almost) always more fun. Let me first preface this by saying that I am not an alcoholic, and I don't condone bottomless brunches every single weekend. However, every once in a while, a weekend comes along that demands a total commitment to excessive consumption, especially when you've got friends along for the boozy ride.
Brunch is the quintessential "Weekend New York" thing—for some people—and yet so many places don't have it figured out. People work hard for their money and they don't just want to burn it away; they want to drink it down—unlimitedly! And while you never want to get aggressive with your "GIVE MY MY BOOZE" attitude, we're all so busy that we need our drinks and we need them now!
But not all drunch spots are created equal. Will servers be on point about bringing more drinks or do you have to badger them into bringing refills? Will the cocktails get stronger as I drink more or will sneaky staff water them down as the day wears on? I've done some research, and compiled this roundup of the best and worst places to get day drunk on bottomless brunch.
Pounds & Ounces: This handsome Chelsea eatery falls short for our purposes. Their $25 includes bottomless brunch cocktails like mimosas and bloody's or a $50 deal that includes unlimited P&O cocktails that usually go for $13 each. Oh, and if you plan on eating, that's extra. However, they DO NOT bring you refills as quickly as you'd hope. I was there on a Sunday and we got about 3 - 4 drinks per person. Which, at $7 a drink, just doesn't cut it. We figured we'd need 4 drinks to make the $25 worth our while and this place couldn't do it. It's all a formula, right? At one point, my friend got a bit firm and asked our server, "Can you just put in the next round now so that they keep coming out?" The waiter was enraged by the question. 160 8th Avenue, (646) 449-8150
Barbounia: This Park Avenue happy hour hotspot strikes out as well. They promise a "never ending flow of champagne cocktails" for an additional $18.95....BUT! They're not that quick with refilling your glasses. And even though you're encouraged to switch out whichever cocktail you'd like, when you do get a refill, it'll be for the same drink you ordered before. The food is phenomenal and the drinks are tasty, but it's just not worth the $18.95 if you're not getting at least 3 - 4 of them. They need to step it up. 250 Park Ave South, (212) 995-0242
Il Bastardo: This spot doesn't make the cut either. Their special is $39 for unlimited champagne, mimosas, screwdrivers, or bloody marys. Well, almost unlimited. In my experiences here, it's always packed and you don't get your money's worth. The food usually comes out before you get your second drink and then you feel like a lush sitting there continuing to drink with your plates having been cleared away long ago. It doesn't seem staffed properly to handle what they're advertising. 191 7th Avenue, (212) 675-5980
Agave: The deal runs $27 (not including tax & tip) for quick seating, excellent service plus your food and drinks. Their special includes bottomless mimosas, frozen margaritas ($1 up-charge for mixing flavors of margaritas), wine and a brunch item of your choice. And feel free to mix 'em up throughout your brunch; not only do they have no attitude about it, they're very quick about bringing your refills. 140 7th Avenue South, (212) 989-2100
Calle Ocho: Brunch here means free, unlimited sangria. Yes, free. You get complimentary sangria for up to 3 hours when you order a meal at Calle Ocho. Depending on your server, you might have to ask for another drink each time you want one; some servers are good about it, others not so much. Personally, I'd rather PAY for it and have it delivered quickly. 45 West 81st Street, (212) 873-5025
Vamos!: Add $9 to any entree and get 90 minutes of frozen margaritas or sangria. The waitstaff excels at bringing you more and more drinks. They will even leave a pitcher on the table if you're a fast drinker like I am. It's also a very relaxing atmosphere and they take their time with bringing out your food so you can enjoy yourself. Oh, by the way, I'm sorry it's been knocked down from 2.5 hours to 90 minutes. I was going there for many weekends in a row, drinking for the whole 2.5 hours with large groups...so they changed it to 90 minutes. My bad 348 1st Avenue, (212) 358-7800
Moral of the story, the Mexican and Cuban restaurants know how to do it! Take a page from their book—or a pitcher from their bar.
Eddie Going is a native New Yorker, a media personality, and a subway vigilante who loves scuba diving. Follow his adventures on Instagram.