Department of Health Reportedly Considering a Ban on Happy Hour (UPDATED)

The New York Post has a rather alarming (and alarmist) article on a potential happy hour ban in the city. They cite a lot of mysterious Department of Health sources, so it's difficult to confirm any of this — but when anyone suggests a serious threat to cheap drinking, panic is the appropriate response.

One Department of Health mole swears the happy hour ban is on the table.

It's absolutely been discussed. It goes to show you the spirit with which they operate. Everyone is a child.

Apparently, Commissioner Thomas Farley has been pushing a ban on happy hour as part of his "reduce risky alcohol use" goal, which is outlined in his report "Take Care New York 2012."

In the report, Farley said he wanted to reduce alcohol-related hospitalizations from 209 per 100,000 to 170 per 100,000. Seems doable to me. And surely getting rid of happy hours everywhere would make people drink less. (Or make them drink more, only later and angrily. I'm just saying, you're playing with fire here.)

Bartenders aren't thrilled, naturally — happy hour is a great source of business. And, uh, they care about the economic conditions their patrons are dealing with, too.

"It's ridiculous," said Sabrina Purtill, a bartender at the Mean Fiddler in Midtown, where happy hour slashes $2 off the price of a beer or hard liquor and stretches from 11 a.m. to 8 pm. "With the economy the way it is right now, it's good to see cheaper prices. We try to be generous to get a good clientele in the door."

Again, this is all based on rumors and vague reports, but it's still worth bracing ourselves for a happy hour-free existence. Agency spokesperson Sam Miller claims there are no "plans to pursue any policy around discount-alcohol sale." But how do we know he's not just trying to throw us off the scent?

Side note: the last line of the Post article is perfection.

"What's next — brunch?," wondered Tom Shanahan, a lounge owner and lawyer who represents bars and nightclubs.

On the one hand, I'm laughing. On the other, perish the thought.

UPDATE:
Gothamist has the following response from Mayor Bloomberg—

You know, it's good that- what one paper's done because, as you remember, this year the committee did not award a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Now we have one - with irresponsible journalism - for next year. The Health Department has no plans. We told them we have no plans. It is a totally fictitious, made-up story, and it's just not what I would call responsible journalism.

Looks like happy hour is here to stay. For now.

[Image by Dianna McDougall/Source Photo via Shutterstock]