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WTF Utah?!? I can't have a stiff drink?
July 20, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Utahs liquor laws loosen, change, yet still seem the same (NYT)

Dry counties still exisit. Michigan finally allows liquor sales on Sunday mornings. Yet Utah has some of the strangest liquor laws on the books. The intent of which the LDS is involved in shapping Utah's liquor laws is interesting.

....and I still can't wait for European laws where I can drink in a park sans brown bag.
posted by handbanana (106 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this linked from mobile NYT for paywall avoidance purposes? The article is interesting but it's broken into 4 parts for something not super long. Click here for the mobile 1 page version.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 8:53 AM on July 20, 2011


The US has the most insane attitude toward drink.
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 AM on July 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Quarterlyprophet,

My bad, android phone, plus all one has to do to get around the paywall is to clear cookies.
posted by handbanana at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2011


No, I think Muslim countries have insaner attitudes on the subject.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


Oh no, it's very direct, none.
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 AM on July 20, 2011


All one has to do to get around the paywall is take a look at the URL and delete everything to the right of .html. No clearing cookies necessary.
posted by emelenjr at 9:01 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


which means under current Utah law that drinks can be served but not seen - at least until the customers get them.

This is one of the things that both amuses and irritates me about puritanical laws like this; that it's considered "acceptable" to find ways to circumvent them.

Seriously, if the law isn't worth keeping, get rid of it, don't make it "Ok if everyone is blindfolded and people pretend that their drinking coffee and it's Thursday..." anything less makes a mockery of both the law and the religion on which the law was based (for better or worse), and makes it acceptable to punish some people while tolerating the same behavior others.
posted by quin at 9:08 AM on July 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


I am ... the insaner! Or am I more insane? But I digress.

Not being able to stiffen drinks is silly, especially that you can offer a shot of another alcohol. Requiring that drinks can be served but not seen until the customers get them is silly. The alcohol is still getting to people, but with obnoxious hurdles. How do those hurdles work for underage drinking? Oh right, kids drink to excess when they turn 21, pay adults to buy them booze, or steal alcohol from their parents or stores.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2011


Sorta Previously.
posted by mattbucher at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2011


Restaurants being required to serve food with their drinks -- as distinct from bars, which are not -- is a weird Utah-only law?
posted by jeather at 9:10 AM on July 20, 2011


Texas does the same thing, but only before noon on Sundays. Hence the otherwise-inexplicable emphasis on the Sunday brunch.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:17 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Texas does the same thing, but only before noon on Sundays. Hence the otherwise-inexplicable emphasis on the Sunday brunch.

In New York City, brunch is itself a religion.
posted by Jahaza at 9:19 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seeing as I live in a state that allows you to buy two six-packs individually or four-six packs in a case but never lets you buy three six-packs, I'm not about to make fun of Utah.
posted by octothorpe at 9:22 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Utah just needs a Wire-style Hamsterdam.
posted by rocket88 at 9:22 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


microbreweries selling beers like Provo Girl Pilsner

Unfortunately, this stuff is swill. The laws may have been relaxed in 2009 but they aren't relaxed enough to allow brewers to practice their craft. A few operations are trying over there, but hell if I know why.
posted by scarabic at 9:24 AM on July 20, 2011


This is one of the things that both amuses and irritates me about puritanical laws like this; that it's considered "acceptable" to find ways to circumvent them.


"No brah, we cant watch DVDs. It's Shabbat.
But check it: Im gonna accidentally elbow this bowling ball here. The bowling ball is then gonna travel down this ramp and startle the chicken, the chicken will then lay an egg which should offset the balance in the scale below it. Once the scale moves, it will set these dominoes in motion ending in the launching of this Matchbox car off the loop-de-loop ramp into the target. If it hit's the bullseye, that will trigger the old boot swinging. The old boot kicks the backscratcher, the backscratcher pushes the Power button, and we are halfway there. Then we just have to wait out the previews and hit the Play button. That's where marbles come in..."
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:26 AM on July 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


Seeing as I live in a state that allows you to buy two six-packs individually or four-six packs in a case but never lets you buy three six-packs, I'm not about to make fun of Utah. posted by octothorpe at 9:22 AM on 7/20

See I find this absurd. What's the logic behind rules and regulations such as these?
People will drink, they will find a way. No reason to put up unnecessary barriers to a legal product.
posted by handbanana at 9:27 AM on July 20, 2011


Seeing as I live in a state that allows you to buy two six-packs individually or four-six packs in a case but never lets you buy three six-packs, I'm not about to make fun of Utah.

Well, at least PA can point to government corruption and monopolies. That makes some sort of sense....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:27 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to live in Utah. Here's what I experienced:

-All the liquor is controlled by the state. In Moab where I lived, there is one liquor store, State Liquor Store #27. When you buy liquor there, data is entered into the system from your ID. The liquor store is the only place you can buy regular beer (i.e. not 3.2), but you cannot buy it cold. The hours are odd and infrequent.

-All beer sold in the grocery store as well as on any taps is 3.2%, so you can't really get drunk, you just get bloated and have to pee a lot.

-Restaurants must serve food with booze, yes.

-The bars aren't really bars, they're private 'clubs.' So you have to buy a membership to go in. Then all the liquor is on electronic speed pours - yes. So they give out exactly, as is electronically measured, one ounce of liquor per drink. This is all tracked in the bar's computer system, which is reconciled against booze bought by the club vs. booze served etc., so the state knows they aren't like heavy pouring for anyone.

What this ends up creating is a culture of home drinking. People go to Grand Junction, Co. to buy beer and stock up on cheaper liquor and have huge raging house parties or acid parties in the canyon.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:27 AM on July 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is one of the things that both amuses and irritates me about puritanical laws...

Mormans, not Puritans.

I live in CT and not buying beer on Sundays is puritanical. This is straight up Mormans governing from the temple.
posted by arveale at 9:28 AM on July 20, 2011


one ounce of liquor per drink.

The hospitality industry is suffering but the urinal industry is booming.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:31 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


My take away is that Utahians can not be trusted around alcohol so it must be kept from them.
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 AM on July 20, 2011


All beer sold in the grocery store as well as on any taps is 3.2%, so you can't really get drunk, you just get bloated and have to pee a lot.

I'm just in shock... A 3.2% beer must be a horribly flavorless drink.
posted by papercrane at 9:34 AM on July 20, 2011


What if someone like myself enjoys a good double IPA? I suppose I'd be shit outta luck.
I just find the religious justification for a law which impacts secular society to be ridiculous.
It must be a real bitch to live in a place like Utah (apparently its really beautiful) surrounded by religious nut jobs.
posted by handbanana at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2011


A guy I met whose employer sent him to Utah for several months had a number of stories to tell about how bizarre the place was. One such story involved him going to a small restaurant and asking the the waiter if he could get some wine with his dinner. A shocked silence fell over the whole dining room and everyone looked at him. The waiter at least took it in stride and said, "Yes, we have some wine in the basement. I'll get you a wine list."

I live in the Junction in Toronto, and it had Prohibition until 2000. The laws had been enacted circa 1900 because public drunkenness and disorderly behaviour was such a huge problem for the community. But the ban had a depressive effect on the whole area because it couldn't attract restaurants or pubs, and if you don't have those things, it discourages other businesses from opening, and then people don't want to buy houses in the area because there's nowhere nice to eat or shop or take in a movie or go dancing. The area is on the rise now, and the upswing has taken time to build but dates from 2000.

I wonder how some of these laws have lasted so long when they are so against the interests of commercial growth, not to mention ridiculously restrictive for ordinary people who just want to go out in the evening and enjoy a few drinks.
posted by orange swan at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2011


"No brah, we cant watch DVDs. It's Shabbat.
But check it: Im gonna accidentally elbow this bowling ball here. The bowling ball is then gonna travel down this ramp and startle the chicken, the chicken will then lay an egg which should offset the balance in the scale below it..."


Judaism is so awesome -- it's the only religion composed entirely of loopholes!
posted by acb at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whenever my very conservative Utah friends start to rant about socialism, I immediately ask them, if they're so strongly opposed to what they think is socialism, why they are not actively fighting to end Utah's "socialist" state liquor system. They never have a good answer and it pretty much kills their train of thought (which is the point).
posted by The World Famous at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


Virginia is pretty weird, too.

I remember when you couldn't carry your own drink from the bar to a table - by law, a waitron had to do it.

Also, to keep you liquor license in Virginia you have to maintain a certain ratio of food sold to booze sold. I believe it's 45/55, but don't quote me on that.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:43 AM on July 20, 2011


This is one of the things that both amuses and irritates me about puritanical laws...

Mormans, not Puritans.


Yes, but "mormanical" sounds like a bondage device.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:44 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


FWIW The private clubs thing is dead. You don't have to pay a membership to get in anymore. It went away last year. Also, it should be noted that this "Zion Curtain" of booze hiding only takes affect for newly constructed or renovated bars. We had some liberation of liquor laws under Huntsman as governor, as our large and powerful tourism and restaurant industry wanted to make it easier to spend money. Then Obama took him away from us by sending him to China (which I will always loathe) and things have been sliding backwards. There were rumors of privatizing the DABC which would have been a godsend, but it didn't make much traction. I buy my 9% locally brewed beer from the liquor store (which I'm conveniently mayor of on FourSquare) and I drink it at home or at friend's houses.
posted by msbutah at 9:45 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever my very conservative Utah friends start to rant about socialism, I immediately ask them, if they're so strongly opposed to what they think is socialism, why they are not actively fighting to end Utah's "socialist" state liquor system. They never have a good answer and it pretty much kills their train of thought (which is the point).

Don't think of it as socialism; think of it as small government. Small enough to fit behind closed doors.
posted by acb at 9:45 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


handbanana: "What if someone like myself enjoys a good double IPA? I suppose I'd be shit outta luck.
Check out Squatter's Hop Rising. It's deliciously hoppy and a double IPA. We have a lot of great local breweries. Nothing brews (hah) a strong company like fierce opposition to your existence.
posted by msbutah at 9:47 AM on July 20, 2011


@MrMoonPie

Islam is the religion of the majority of Indonesians, but alcohol is widely available in most areas, especially in upscale restaurants and bars.

Pakistan allows the sale of alcohol to non muslims

etc etc etc...
posted by zeoslap at 9:49 AM on July 20, 2011


zeoslap, I can't tell if you're agreeing or disagreeing with me.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:51 AM on July 20, 2011


No, I think Muslim countries have insaner attitudes on the subject.
posted by MrMoonPie

Oh no, it's very direct, none.
posted by The Whelk


In Dubai, westerners can purchase alcohol, but you must present a chipped card that stores your purchases, as well as your documented monthly salary. You can spend up to a maximum amount, capped by a fixed percentage of your income.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:52 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is one of the things that both amuses and irritates me about puritanical laws like this; that it's considered "acceptable" to find ways to circumvent them.

This is what "compromise" with nutjobs gets you.
posted by DU at 9:53 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whenever my very conservative Utah friends start to rant about socialism, I immediately ask them, if they're so strongly opposed to what they think is socialism, why they are not actively fighting to end Utah's "socialist" state liquor system. They never have a good answer and it pretty much kills their train of thought (which is the point).

This was exactly my thought: I think it's hilarious that a Red state (current American politics usage) such as Utah would have a such a Red state (Cold War usage) sounding place as "State Liquor Store #27"; I'd be tempted to call everybody working their comrade if I found myself in Utah, but, if I found myself in Utah, I'd also probably not want to fuck around with getting my drink on.

I also think it's hilarious there's a place called Moab that wasn't in Biblical.

A friend of mine and his boyfriend were in Salt Lake City a few years back when he went there for some sort of conference, and I asked him what it was like being in a gay bar in the home of the LDS. He said the gay part was nothing unusual, but the bar part was a pain in the ass.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:54 AM on July 20, 2011


According to Wikipedia, in Pennsylvania you can be arrested for underage drinking of non-alcoholic beer, which explains why I was carded in Giant Eagle buying "Champagno", a non-alcoholic champagne imitation.
posted by Pyry at 9:54 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


What if someone like myself enjoys a good double IPA? I suppose I'd be shit outta luck.

No, you could always brew your own.
posted by cog_nate at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2011


Mormans, not Puritans.

I live in CT and not buying beer on Sundays is puritanical. This is straight up Mormans governing from the temple.


I can't tell if you're referring to the Breton chieftain or some kind of Mongoose/Orangutan/Human hybrid. The latter sounds more awesome though, so I'm gonna go with that.
posted by kmz at 9:56 AM on July 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


"-The bars aren't really bars, they're private 'clubs.' So you have to buy a membership to go in. Then all the liquor is on electronic speed pours - yes. So they give out exactly, as is electronically measured, one ounce of liquor per drink. This is all tracked in the bar's computer system, which is reconciled against booze bought by the club vs. booze served etc., so the state knows they aren't like heavy pouring for anyone."

I think this has changed, in TFA:

"Utah's liquor laws were relaxed two years ago by Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a Mormon who went on to be President Obama's ambassador to China and who is now seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Huntsman ended the old system in which would-be drinkers had to pay fees to become "members" of bars, which were considered private clubs."

It goes on to describe two gentlemen who go to every bar in the state now that they can without spending a fortune.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:57 AM on July 20, 2011


In California, you cannot buy hard liquor in a Safeway grocery store after 2:00 in the morning.

Why even bother to have a law like that?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


The wife, back when she was the girlfriend, went out to SLC and brought me back an empty Polygamy Porter bottle. Years later, on a road trip, we stopped in the Squatter's restaurant, had dinner, sampled some wares. Some of the beers on tap could be sold in the bottles seen at the front of the place, and some couldn't. Wound up having to, on the way back home, stop in Moab and stock up on some beers from the gas station, and some from the state liquor store.

(Yeah, the Provo Girl is...not very good. Polygamy Porter, despite having a joke name, is a rather fun little beer - and is a great intro to darker beers for macrolager drinkers. And I'll hold the Belgian White up against any in the field.)
posted by notsnot at 9:59 AM on July 20, 2011


Just wait four hours until 6am and you're good to go.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:59 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another one of the exceptionally irritating things about living here is that the state legislature will often 'request conference' with the LDS Church about proposed changes to laws. When they give their blessing, it's all but guaranteed to pass. Why this hasn't brought down the hammer of the law is beyond me. Also, our aspirational AG has a hard-on for going after booze that is tempting for minors and now we have to put bright orange stickers on things like Mike's Hard Lemonade that say "THIS HAS ALCOHOL IN IT". #facepalm
posted by msbutah at 9:59 AM on July 20, 2011


No, you could always brew your own.

Yeah, but only since 2009.
posted by papercrane at 9:59 AM on July 20, 2011


Yes, but "mormanical" sounds like a bondage device.

Or a Jack Kirby villain.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:01 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the article:

It is illegal to stiffen a drink with a second shot: under the law a drinker can order a vodka and tonic with a shot of whiskey on the side, but not a vodka tonic with a shot of vodka on the side.

So this makes me think my vodka-drinking boyfriend and I (who prefers whiskey) are a perfect match for Utah.* He goes to the bar and orders a vodka tonic with a shot of Jack and I go to the bar to order a Jack and coke with a shot of vodka.

It also makes me think of the hilarious personal ads one could see under this system: "Single gay whiskey drinking bottom looking for vodka liking top."

" "My boyfriend and I are a perfect match for Utah" is probably a sentence that has never been said by a man before.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:02 AM on July 20, 2011 [15 favorites]


Just wait four hours until 6am and you're good to go.
posted by elsietheeel


You've turned a corner when you stop worrying about when the bars close, and start tracking when they open.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:05 AM on July 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


Nothing has irrationally infuriated me like finding out that I couldn't buy booze on Christmas in Michigan.

I'm fine with everyone getting a day off of work, but I need the liquor to relax around my girlfriend's passive aggressive family.

Since then, every time someone's started in on any sort of "War on Christmas" prattle, I'm right there openly drawing battle lines — nobody gives a fuck if I'm loaded for "holidays."
posted by klangklangston at 10:05 AM on July 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


You've turned a corner when you stop worrying about when the bars close, and start tracking when they open. posted by StickyCarpet at 10:05 AM on 7/20

Unless you just got off a night shift or a third shift.

Nothing has irrationally infuriated me like finding out that I couldn't buy booze on Christmas in Michigan.

Yep, this always sucks. Sometimes its hard to judge how much you'll need in advance in order to tolerate being around family.
posted by handbanana at 10:10 AM on July 20, 2011


Or a Jack Kirby villain.

Actually, "Mormonical" sounds even more like a Kirby Villain -- he would have a huge opaque eye device that would shoot out black sparkly beams and make everyone -- um -- not drink. With very thick borderlines. Yes, I can see it clearly.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:10 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember reading an article - must have been twelve or thirteen years ago, I think in Modern Brewer magazine? - about a woman who was the head brewer at a craft brewery in Utah. Female head brewers are rare enough, of course, but what really impressed me was the amount of skill and creativity she evidently possessed, since she had apparently been able to create a pretty tasty porter that was under 3.2%. That's not an easy task. Wish I could remember the name of the brewer, or the brewery - I hope they're still in business.
posted by nickmark at 10:13 AM on July 20, 2011


Also, our aspirational AG has a hard-on for going after booze that is tempting for minors and now we have to put bright orange stickers on things like Mike's Hard Lemonade that say "THIS HAS ALCOHOL IN IT".

They tried this in Iceland in the 1930s; by law, to discourage drinking, bottles of the locally produced spirit (brennivín) had to have unattractive-looking black labels. This didn't work, but merely gave the pungent, caraway-flavoured liquour the nickname "black death".
posted by acb at 10:14 AM on July 20, 2011


Actually, I could probably make up a plausible fiction about Mormons secretly using magic one-lens eyeglasses called a Mormonocle.
posted by The World Famous at 10:14 AM on July 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm in Moscow right now. You can buy beer anywhere, any time of day, drink it anywhere you want (without paper bag) including subway, street, parks, red square, YOUR CAR (although not if you're the driver). While most of the tourist parts of Moscow proper are kept clean, if you get out to places like Korolev, what you see is beer bottles EVERYWHERE, the smell of piss nearby constantly.
posted by spicynuts at 10:18 AM on July 20, 2011


Utah is a terrible place to be a celiac.
posted by unmake at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2011


I'm in Moscow right now. You can buy beer anywhere, any time of day, drink it anywhere you want (without paper bag) including subway, street, parks, red square, YOUR CAR (although not if you're the driver). While most of the tourist parts of Moscow proper are kept clean, if you get out to places like Korolev, what you see is beer bottles EVERYWHERE, the smell of piss nearby constantly.

First part sounds awesome...second part, not so much.
posted by handbanana at 10:33 AM on July 20, 2011


You've turned a corner when you stop worrying about when the bars close, and start tracking when they open.

My late teens were an interesting time! Now I can't even drink an entire beer by myself.


Also there used to be a bar here that advertised that they opened at 6am.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:39 AM on July 20, 2011


The Utah Legislature does what business interests, and the LDS church want, in that order. Michael Waddoups, the head of the legislature has a self-inflicted neurosis regarding the visibility of alcohol in public places. He makes himself sick at the sight of liquor in public places to feel extra special in is heavenly father's sight. Utah is one step away from Taliban style rule, I kid you not. Obedience is the social structure of all organizations in the state, including education. The number one employer in Utah is the defense department, and private subsidiaries. Everything in this state bends to these forces.

I will tell you this on the side, when Mitt Romney came to Utah seeking support, he met with business leaders at Hires Big H. Hires Big H is owned by a large polygamous clan, and the "business leaders" he met with, were from large, polygamist owned, Utah firms. The polygamous offshoot clans from the Mormon church do not welcome African Americans to their ranks, holding them as lesser in the eyes of their heavenly father. In plain English, Romney took a lot of money from racist organizations in Utah.

Then Utahans are the largest per capita consumers of porn in the United States, and it is not the non-Mormons who are the consumers. In one sense Utah suffers from the most amazing identity confusion imaginable. First of all there is a genuine niceness in this state. There is stultifying patriarchy, and unquestioning obedience to multi-level dogma, from right wing politics, religion, and general denial that good 'ol boy Facism is un-american. They proceed as if everything is OK in Utah if they can keep the minorities under control, and get them converted. Only in Utah is Snopes stigmatized as an unreliable source of information.

Utah doesn't get that it is now a giant target on the landscape, prone to utter destruction, if war ever does break out. They host a huge airbase, the NSA, multiple defense contractors, rocket makers, and everyday they seek more of this industry. This is all within 50 miles of the Wasatch Front, which holds 60% of the state's population. Now the brethren are looking to put Nuclear on the Green River, a life blood river, half of the Colorado River, just before it joins and flows to make Lake Powell. Utah plans to Nuclearize the Colorado, to accommodate the future power needs of the defense industry.

What can I say? The liquor laws are only the tip of the huge iceberg that is the quirkiness of the "collateral" population of Utah. When the legislature wants to send a message to the nearly non-existent Democratic Party of Utah, they close liquor stores. State employees are not allowed to talk about anything, state PR takes care of environmental statements, and all publicly revealed perceptions of the state of the state. Salt Lake City proper, has a low population of LDS, but it hosts the Legislature, and Temple Square. The rest of Utah loves to hate Salt Lake, and Salt Lake tends to ignore the rest of the state, in order to keep a decent mental attitude about living here. The liquor laws are just a button the Legislature uses to zap the locals in order to get their attention.
posted by Oyéah at 10:51 AM on July 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


"I'm in Moscow right now. You can buy beer anywhere, any time of day, drink it anywhere you want (without paper bag) including subway, street, parks, red square, YOUR CAR (although not if you're the driver). While most of the tourist parts of Moscow proper are kept clean, if you get out to places like Korolev, what you see is beer bottles EVERYWHERE, the smell of piss nearby constantly."

Korea's like that, except that everything is clean and there's no piss smell.

Oh, and you can get shitfaced and pass out on the street and no one will bother you. This includes my brother seeing a hungover businessman wake up on a street corner without his pants (but in a nice shirt and tie), seemingly unconcerned with his plight.
posted by klangklangston at 10:54 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm nowhere near an expert on these things but as I understand it some of the local breweries are well liked, even for their 3.2 varieties. For example, a coworker of mine from the midwest always makes it a point when he visits SLC to go to Bohemian Brewery and buy a case of their Viennese Lager to take back home with him.

My boss, whom I deem to be a bit of a beer snob, raves about Polygamy Porter (Wasatch Brewing) and Captain Bastard's Oatmeal Stout (Squatter's). So I think all is not lost but Utah definitely isn't a very drink-friendly place.
posted by jnrussell at 11:02 AM on July 20, 2011


"a hungover businessman wakes up on a street corner without his pants (but in a nice shirt and tie), seemingly unconcerned with his plight."

Well, since business is worshiped in Utah, I can see now who they are trying to protect with their liquor laws.

I also didn't mention the part about BYU students going to Vegas, getting married for the weekend to party, and then having the weekend marriage annulled on the way back to school. They do these kind of marriages of convenience in the party towns of the Middle East too. The convoluted unreality of Utah is amazing, since it is embedded in the midst of a really nice population, overall. I love Utah, it is just hard to watch, except for the scenery.
posted by Oyéah at 11:05 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. As a Kentuckian, this is one of the rare times that I can pretend that I actually live in a progressive state.
posted by Mcable at 11:07 AM on July 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Utah is one step away from Taliban style rule, I kid you not.

You kid us not? Please tell me that was intentional hyperbole and not that you have absolutely no idea what the Taliban's rule was like. One step away from Taliban-style rule would include rounding up the infidels in the middle of Rice-Eccles stadium but then giving them a stern talking-to instead of shooting them all in the head. Utah is a ridiculous place with stupid laws, idiotic government and culture dominated by the most extreme and vocal elements of the Mormon church on the one hand and idiotic reactionary nonsense on the other. But it's not "one step away from Taliban-style rule," for crying out loud.

I also didn't mention the part about BYU students going to Vegas, getting married for the weekend to party, and then having the weekend marriage annulled on the way back to school.

It's a good thing you didn't mention that. Because if you did, I'd have to call you out for believing in an urban legend that has been circulating without any substance or truth since well before I attended BYU in the early '90s.
posted by The World Famous at 11:15 AM on July 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


I worked at Intel for a time during the 90s. The fabs (chip manufacturing factories) were staffed by people working 'compressed work weeks'... 12 hours on duty, followed by 12 hours off, for either a 3-day or 4-day work week (they alternated). The day shifts worked 7AM-7PM, and vice versa for the night shifts, of course.

Anyway, the second-half of the week's night shift crew always ended their work week at 7AM Sunday morning, and they were always ready to party. The neighborhood bars obliged. It was a little surreal to stagger out of a bar at 10AM Sunday morning, blinking owlishly at the church-bound traffic (who were clucking disapprovingly at us, no doubt.)

Back on point: Mrs. Rodeoclown has (stereotypically nice, and conservative) family in Utah, so we visit 1-2 times per year. To our frequently-visiting eyes, some things appear to have lightened up. About a decade ago, coffee was nigh impossible to find... we finally found a coffee shop in Provo that had a hidden drive-through window in the back (behind the building, so no one could witness your fall from grace) and they honest-to-god handed your coffee to you in a plain brown paper bag. All the charm and self-esteem of a porn-shop experience. Today, Starbucks (bless their hearts) have infiltrated and we can proudly barge out the front door into the sunlight, with a 30oz. bucket of coffee in hand.

Alcohol-wise, yes, ordering a drink in a restaurant still produces a nearly-audible *record scratch* sound. The waitress then must summon the manager, who flexes and rubs our out-of-state IDs (we're about 40 years old) before suffering the drinks to be delivered. I've gone from being vaguely embarrassed by it to "fuck you, have a good long look, everyone!" about it.

Had a much nicer experience in an SLC bar during this year's Stanley Cup playoffs (woo, Bruins!)... no more membership bullshit, full-strength beers, food optional but not forced. It was enough to make me forget I was in Utah.
posted by rodeoclown at 11:20 AM on July 20, 2011


When our Mississippi town was fighting the population over Sunday beer sales (we sell now), two of my friends were arguing about it. One of the reasons arguing against it was that it would be horrible for someone to die in an alcohol related death on the Sabbath. Someone else replied that it would be horrible if anyone died in an alcohol related death on any day of the week.
posted by chinesefood at 11:21 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, I think Muslim countries have insaner attitudes on the subject.

I've lived in seven countries, and the only ones that have had a drinking age of 21 were The UAE and the USA.
posted by atrazine at 11:25 AM on July 20, 2011


The US has the most insane attitude toward drink.

And yet somehow much saner than its attitude towards other recreational drugs.

The trouble, as always, is when you try to impose morality through legislation.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:45 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then Utahans are the largest per capita consumers of porn in the United States

Perhaps even more relevant, Utah is the #1 state for anti-depressant use.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:48 AM on July 20, 2011


I've lived in seven countries, and the only ones that have had a drinking age of 21 were The UAE and the USA. posted by atrazine at 11:25 AM on 7/20

Sometimes the US is innovative/progressive, other times/issues the US is backwards as fuck.
posted by handbanana at 11:52 AM on July 20, 2011


Then Utahans are the largest per capita consumers of porn in the United States

Perhaps even more relevant, Utah is the #1 state for anti-depressant use.


But isn't that what the porn is for?
posted by gyc at 11:55 AM on July 20, 2011


In California, you cannot buy hard liquor in a Safeway grocery store after 2:00 in the morning.

In Wisconsin you cannot buy ANY packaged liquor ANYWHERE after 9 pm.
posted by desjardins at 11:58 AM on July 20, 2011


*waits patiently for someone to chime in with Georgia's own booze idiocy*
posted by Kitteh at 12:05 PM on July 20, 2011


The trouble, as always, is when you try to impose morality through legislation.

For a narrow category of morality concerning personal vices, I would agree with you. But there's some morality worth codifying in laws. Historically, some of the good moral law like civil rights has originated with the same people who brought us the temperance movement. It's a finer line between good moral law and frivolous moral law than one would think.

Having learned a little about how much people used to drink in the US in prior centuries, I'm not convinced the temperance movement was a bad thing.
posted by scarabic at 12:13 PM on July 20, 2011


I live in Salt lake City and the two things I absolutely despise about this place in order are #1 poor air quality with seemingly no action to reduce or prevent it, and #2 the totally absurd liquor laws.

When my wife and I go out on a date we always seem to forget buying a mixed drink is pretty much pointless. You can drink yourself sober if you aren't careful. If you want a bottle of wine to go with dinner (at home), then you have to go to one of the remaining state liquor stores to get it.

The liquor store monopoly is damn irritating for those of us who aren't wealthy. Utah recently closed 13 of its stores citing a demand from lawmakers to create $2.5 million in cuts to this agency. So they closed 13 profitable stores, each with an annual profit of $1 million or more, and combined sales of $18.4 million! This has created a run on liquor at the remaining outlets. I went to buy a bottle of Captain Morgan's rum the other day and they were sold out at my local store because it had been on sale. Every night I ride past the liquor store near my home that recently closed and I see the neon closed sign on and the sprinklers running like they are still open for business there. Excellent use of that "budget savings" boys.

When I first moved here I thought it was silly and fun, sot of like trying to get booze when you're in high school, but the novelty is long gone and now I'm just pissed. Of course one could go to nearby Idaho, Wyoming or Nevada to illegally stock up, but I always just end up on a binge when I do that.

Consequentially home-brewing is very popular here and some (many who began back in Utah's darker days) are quite talented at their craft. For the average consumer this is unobtainable due to the unnecessary time investment.

One secret that the Mormons don't seem to pick up on is that our 3.2% alcohol law is by weight which is actually 4.0% by volume. This is a middle finger to the Mormons that know nothing of the culture they are trying to legislate. Perhaps they know more than I give them credit for, since 4% by volume is still really, really weak.
posted by Kale Slayer at 12:20 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The bars aren't really bars, they're private 'clubs.' So you have to buy a membership to go in.
The last time I went to Snowbird, the hotel bar would let us in if someone in the bar would sponsor our 'membership'. Of course we were sponsored by total strangers and we returned the favor to the next group that came in. I found it...amusingly quaint.
posted by plinth at 12:22 PM on July 20, 2011


In California, you cannot buy hard liquor in a Safeway grocery store after 2:00 in the morning.

In California, you can't buy alcohol anywhere after 2AM (bar closing time). Sales start up again at 6AM.

But that's the only real restriction. You can buy hard liquor at any grocery store or corner market. There are no special restrictions on Sunday or holidays. No limits to the alcohol content of beer or wine (though liquor is limited to 151 proof). No state-run stores. No mandatory food purchases.

All in all, California's laws are not very onerous.
posted by ryanrs at 12:23 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm in favor of people deciding how they want to govern themselves, based on a majority decision. Over 60% of the population in that state is Mormon. Considering that Mormons do not drink alcohol at all, this is a compromise their state has reached. It's not my thing, but if it works for them then why not? Should there be national laws? Global laws? Who gets to decide the laws under which we live? Why would I want to tell them how they should conduct their lives?
posted by Houstonian at 12:26 PM on July 20, 2011


No limits to the alcohol content of beer or wine (though liquor is limited to 151 proof).

You mean I can't buy Everclear at 1:30 in the morning on a Tuesday?

Jesus Christ, might as well just let the Taliban run things!
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:29 PM on July 20, 2011


You can, but California Everclear is 151 proof, so it's not quite the same.
posted by ryanrs at 12:32 PM on July 20, 2011


Hires Big H is owned by a large polygamous clan

The hell? 1 wife, 2 sons, and 2 daughters hardly makes for a large polygamous clan. Don Hale died earlier this year and I was sad to see him go. I ate there all the time in college and he was a great guy, beyond being a little eccentric in his order-taking style.

Say what you want about the church and how it's essentially a theocracy here in Utah, but c'mon, do you need to disparage a true gentlemen like Don Hale to make your point?
posted by m2ke at 12:35 PM on July 20, 2011


Having learned a little about how much people used to drink in the US in prior centuries, I'm not convinced the temperance movement was a bad thing. posted by scarabic at 12:13 PM on 7/20

The only good thing, and I emphasis only, is that women were finally a voice in our political system during that time frame.

Otherwise let's tally up the bad. We had the rise of mobs, high instances of people poisoned by bathtub gin, high violence and more political corruption.
Certainly nothing to praise nor classify as" good".
posted by handbanana at 12:46 PM on July 20, 2011


I'm in favor of people deciding how they want to govern themselves, based on a majority decision.

Yea, that works well for the 60% not so much for everyone else. That was also the justification of segregation as well as slavery in the south. That worked out so well.
posted by handbanana at 12:48 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You kid us not? Please tell me that was intentional hyperbole and not that you have absolutely no idea what the Taliban's rule was like. One step away from Taliban-style rule would include rounding up the infidels in the middle of Rice-Eccles stadium but then giving them a stern talking-to instead of shooting them all in the head. Utah is a ridiculous place with stupid laws, idiotic government and culture dominated by the most extreme and vocal elements of the Mormon church on the one hand and idiotic reactionary nonsense on the other. But it's not "one step away from Taliban-style rule," for crying out loud."

Utah is probably around 600ish steps from Taliban rule, in part because theocracy precluded statehood. It's still closer than it should be, but yeah, hyperbole.

"I'm in favor of people deciding how they want to govern themselves, based on a majority decision."

I'm not. Majoritarianism is stupid. And further, they're not just deciding how to govern themselves — they're deciding how to govern me too (generally, since I don't live in Utah).

"No limits to the alcohol content of beer or wine (though liquor is limited to 151 proof)."

Currently mildly vexing my ability to produce the liqueurs that I'd like to.
posted by klangklangston at 12:56 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Over 60% of the population in that state is Mormon. Considering that Mormons do not drink alcohol at all, this is a compromise their state has reached.

The first and the fourteenth amendments disagree with you.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:03 PM on July 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


All in all, California's laws are not very onerous.

Exactly. I grew up in California and hadn't realized that there were any liquor laws. That's why it was weird to be there, late at night, in the checkout at the Safeway with the ingredients for making a chocolate pecan pie and a few bottles of wine, and have the checker check his watch and tell us it was just past 2:00 and we had to go put the wine back.

Fascism. Fascism, I say.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:08 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


octothorpe: "Seeing as I live in a state that allows you to buy two six-packs individually or four-six packs in a case but never lets you buy three six-packs, I'm not about to make fun of Utah."

Yeah, I was going to try and explain PA liquor laws, but it would take about 10k words. The only good thing is that they are slowly improving.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:30 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


We had the rise of mobs, high instances of people poisoned by bathtub gin, high violence and more political corruption.
Certainly nothing to praise nor classify as" good".


I think you're conflating the period of Prohibition with the temperance movement, which began much earlier than Prohibition and whose aims in many cases were much milder than than what became the dominant strain - namely the absolutism of the "teetotal" faction. Teetotalism and temperance were not the same thing - for a long time, beer was recommended as a temperance drink.
posted by nickmark at 1:36 PM on July 20, 2011


The temperance movement gave way to prohibition. It was an important aspect and part of its history. Not going to argue semantics, but they are very much tied historically to one another.
posted by handbanana at 1:40 PM on July 20, 2011


Then Utahans are the largest per capita consumers of porn in the United States

Perhaps even more relevant, Utah is the #1 state for anti-depressant use.

But isn't that what the porn is for?


Exactly. It's not just one major indicator, it's #1 and #2 by a landslide.

I'm in favor of people deciding how they want to govern themselves, based on a majority decision. Over 60% of the population in that state is Mormon.

No. Some rights are inalienable, and that's one of the reasons you have a Constitution--so everyone is working off the same foundation of rules.

I think the right to brew, drink, and serve alcohol how you see fit to be one of those inalienable rights of which my constitution doesn't specifically include.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:24 PM on July 20, 2011


I was also going to make fun of South Carolina for requiring bars to use mini-bottles for every drink, but apparently they voted that out in 2005. I would have never expected MADD to lead that issue.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2011


I highly recommend the movie SLC Punk for having a hilarious scene of Utah punk rockers going to Wyoming for a beer run.
posted by jonp72 at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2011


For the average consumer this is unobtainable due to the unnecessary time investment.

Pish tosh, I can brew and bottle an all-grain batch with less than six hours of active work.

And about a month of waiting.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:54 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Utahs liquor laws loosen

94 comments and no one has complained about the missing apostrophe. Mefi, you're slipping.
posted by ryanrs at 2:59 PM on July 20, 2011


94 comments and no one has complained about the missing apostrophe. Mefi, you're slipping.

Nah. Y'oure just the only one not running the apostrophe-fix script.
posted by The World Famous at 3:46 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fun fact from Public Policy Polling: if the 30% non-Mormon population of Utah were its own state, they'd approve of Barack Obama by 66%, vote for gay marriage by 63%, and be the bluest state in the country by a walk -- even more so than Hawaii.

It must suck to be a progressive stuck there.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:55 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Based on my own experiences in Utah, I would argue that, if the 30% non-Mormon population of Utah were its own state, it would not be as reactionary politically as it is now. Non-Mormons (and liberal Mormons) in Utah lean harder to the left than they might if they weren't polarized by Utah conservatism.
posted by The World Famous at 4:00 PM on July 20, 2011


Fun fact from Public Policy Polling: if the 30% non-Mormon population of Utah were its own state, they'd approve of Barack Obama by 66%, vote for gay marriage by 63%, and be the bluest state in the country by a walk -- even more so than Hawaii.

If the Mormons weren't there, the non-Mormons wouldn't be as "progressive." There has to be some sort of reactionary effect there.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:01 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


jinx
posted by mrgrimm at 4:01 PM on July 20, 2011


If the Mormons weren't there, the non-Mormons wouldn't be as "progressive." There has to be some sort of reactionary effect there.

That's probably it. I feel like living in San Francisco has made me move towards the right, and I know that living in Utah would push me in the exact opposite direction.
posted by gyc at 4:14 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Once in Idaho I was carded at an Albertsons for trying to purchase beer nuts. Incredulously, I suggested to the clerk that she should turn herself in for contributing to the delinquency of minors by selling rootbeer without requiring proper ID. She said "That's just crazy". Unblinking, I replied "COMPLETELY NUTS."
posted by isopraxis at 7:46 PM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Blasdelb wrote: It goes on to describe two gentlemen who go to every bar in the state now that they can without spending a fortune.

Did private club memberships cost more than a buck in Utah? I have a few cards from Alabama, and none of them were more than two dollars. Of course, nobody really cares there. They only check your membership card if they think the ABC board is looking.

In Arkansas, we had private clubs (only way to serve in dry counties until the restaurant exemption came along), but becoming a member consisted of writing your name in the guest book once. Yes, that means I'm a member of Pizza Hut and Applebee's and Outback and on down the chain restaurant list. (as well as more than a few local places)

It wasn't until 1986 that Oklahomans could get liquor by the drink. There were private clubs, but to comply with the law you had to bring your own liquor, which a club employee would then serve to you. There are still a bunch of dry counties, and our liquor laws have some stupid restrictions, but at least liquor stores have real beer, even if they do close at 9PM and can't open on Sundays. At least they're open on election day now.
posted by wierdo at 8:03 PM on July 20, 2011


In California, you cannot buy hard liquor in a Safeway grocery store after 2:00 in the morning.

Liquor from a grocery store? Next you're going to tell me that you can buy beer and wine in the same store.
posted by octothorpe at 8:35 PM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's called control states.
posted by warbaby at 7:55 AM on July 21, 2011


> there used to be a bar here that advertised that they opened at 6am

I used to drink at a bar that had a 6:00 am happy hour. In theory it was for people just getting off the night shift.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:31 AM on July 31, 2011


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