Posted by: Tony Carson | 22 November, 2009

On brunch with all-you-can drink cocktails

In the US there is a stat for everything. And God love them for it. Stats are every bit as entertaining as ‘The List’ of, say, Top Tens.

Take the stats for brunch, for instance. Time tells us that even though restaurant dining is at an all-time low because of the economy, the lowly brunch is up 8% during the first 8 months of the year — a full 15% in the South and 10% in the “white-collar” Northeast. Why?

Well, it isn’t due to the need of a fourth meal to sustain the epidemic obesity rates. It’s because brunches are cheap … and probably inexpensive.

The chief industry analyst of market-research firm NPD Goup, Harry Balzer doesn’t attribute the meal’s increasing popularity to its social aspect, but to its promise of large quantities of food for a startlingly low price. “People are not going out without a deal, and brunch is the No. 1 deal,” Balzer says. Nationwide, the average brunch eater’s check is $6.48.

One interesting subset of brunchers on the rise: men ages 21 to 34, a demographic associated more with late nights on the town than cheery mid-morning group meals. But even in the current era of Judd Apatow bromance movies, Balzer still believes the increase in bro-brunches (bronches?) stems from the desire to eat cheaply combined with a serious lack of skills in the kitchen.

In many places, however, there’s another big incentive to get people stressed out by the economy to go to brunch. It is not unusual for restaurants to include a free mimosa or Bloody Mary as part of the deal, and more and more eateries are offering unlimited cocktails. Referred to as “drunk,” “boozy,” or “bottomless” brunch, restaurants in many of the country’s larger cities are using all-you-can-drink cocktails to entice more people to shell out for eggs Benedict or a Belgian waffle.

After all, says Village Voice restaurant critic Robert Sietsema, “Sunday brunch is just a license to continue Saturday’s night of drinking.”


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