State says NYC restaurant can’t offer 25 cent drinks to fight January blues
Martinis for sale for a quarter got one West Village restaurant in hot water

The long arm of the law doesn’t like bargain basement cocktail specials – even if they’re whipped up to help struggling restaurants drum up business during a slow January.

Anton’s, the West Village eatery that drew crowds – and a column in last week’s Side Dish – with its 25 cent martinis and Manhattans – was slapped by the State Liquor Authority last Wednesday with a warning. Turns out, the booze special that packed ’em in ran afoul of state law that forbids discounts of more than 50% off normal prices.

That meant the deal, which was offered during lunchtime this month on Wednesdays through Fridays and which was packed inside was actually illegal – and it’s no more.

“The place was packed. It broke the internet,” said Marie Assante, a food publicist who dined at Anton’s last Thursday. “I’ve never seen a lunch spot as crowded and vibrant at 2:45 p.m. as I did last Thursday. People were celebrating with friends or working remotely on their computers.”

The SLA didn’t charge Anton’s with an official violation, but let the restaurant off with a warning, an SLA spokesperson told Side Dish. The SLA has issued only 19 charges since 2018 with violating the rule that forbids charging a price for a drink that’s less than half the typical cost.