A Guide to Drinking Alcohol in Utah

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This guide to drinking in Utah is for those of you out-of-towners who are not yet associated with the alcohol laws in Salt Lake City.

Glossary:

Tavern: Any 21-and-older establishment where beer is the main menu item and alcohol percentages do not exceed 3.2 percent.

Private Club: A full bar serving many different strengths of alcohol. Any bar serving beverages over 3.2 percent alcohol is required by law to be a private club. A private club is for adults (21 and over) and requires membership.

Sponsor: If you are not a member of a private club, you must be sponsored by a member or else you cannot join in the festivities. (Hint: Most bars don?t mind if you ask a stranger to sponsor you?sometimes, they?ll even ask for you.)

Side Car:Utah doesn?t have the free pour. Each shot of hard alcohol, served in Utah, is required by law to be no more than one fluid ounce. If you want a double, the bartender cannot, by law, give it to you. But you can ask for a side car. A side car is a single shot served along side your mixed drink (often with the unspoken intention of adding it to your drink).

Certain restaurants around town are half restaurant, half private club. The restaurant (all ages) serves beer to adults. But if you cross the line, you?d better have your ID ready because it?s a private club on the other side. The line is there so people can enjoy mixed drinks with their fine food and still be accompanied by their children.

When at a private club, your money is best spent on beer. Even though its only 3.2 percent, it is the most alcohol for the buck. Shots are disgustingly expensive and mixed drinks are worse?not to say the beer is a good price, but it is your most economic choice.

The Local Word:

RED sat down with Greg Arata, the proprietor of Juniors Tavern, one afternoon to talk alcohol.

RED: Have you noticed a liberalization of the alcohol laws over the last few years?

Arata: Things were just different. In the ?60s, ?70s and ?80s?the Democrats controlled the Legislature. Back then, people had different attitudes about drinking; they weren?t as closed-minded about it. I mean, there were a lot of bars in Provo?of course, the cops would sit outside waiting for people to come out drunk. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] didn?t have as much pull in the Legislature as they do today.

RED: Why is the church so adamantly opposed to drinking alcohol?

Arata: The church, on certain issues, and liquor?s one of them, would never agree to anything that would appear to be encouraging more con sumption?i.e. dropping the private club cards, pulling something out of the liquor store and putting it in the grocery store. That would be sending the wrong message to society. They don?t want to admit it, but they like things to be inaccessible, more difficult.

RED: Is Utah the only state with such strict liquor laws?

Arata: There’s only three states left that have 3.2 beers: Kansas, South Carolina and Utah. Every state has some quirky alcohol laws though?some counties are dry. In Pennsylvania, you have to go to the distribution houses and buy it by the case. You can?t buy anything at the grocery stores.

RED: Do you see the liquor laws getting more lenient in the future?

Arata: I don’t see things changing. The Legislature is controlled by Republicans, or all the Mormons?they don?t like to vote on anything involving liquor, even though a lot of them agree that things need to be changed. To come out on the forefront and say, ?Yeah, I?m for this,? it?s political suicide for them.