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Mr. Huntsman -- Tear. Down. That. Wall.
May 15, 2009 3:43 PM   Subscribe

The 'Zion Curtain' has fallen.

While existing Utah restaurants may remove partitions separating patrons and booze, known as the "Zion Curtain," new restaurants will be required to store liquor and mix drinks out of public view.

In other Utah-/alcohol-related news, a restaurant membership is no longer required in order to purchase a drink. Oh, and hit-and-run accidents resulting in injuries are now felonies, but only if the driver has a previous DUI conviction.
posted by mudpuppie (114 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Utahns must be happy.

I have no idea whether they're happy. Nor, frankly, do I care. I just like saying "Utahns." It sounds like a race of Star Trek aliens.
posted by dersins at 3:48 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The LDS must be plotzing.
posted by zarq at 3:49 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I for one couldn't care less since I don't go to bars anyway, but here's the deal:

Utah has peculiar liquor laws because 90% of the liquor control board doesn't drink. 90% of the liquor control board doesn't drink because they're Mormon. Mormons dominate the liquor control board because Mormons dominate state politics. Because Mormons dominate state politics, Utah will always have peculiar liquor laws.

Those of us who live here and are not Mormon either a) learn to deal with it or b) leave.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 3:53 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, they're no longer the consumer fraud capital of the US.

Good work you guys! I'm dressing up as a mormon missionary at burning man this year.
posted by mullingitover at 3:53 PM on May 15, 2009


When I can buy wine other than that permitted me by the State Liquor Store, I'll be happy.

Any of you who wondered how (in)accurate Big Love was, know that they got this part exactly right: The Latter-Day Saints might prefer to live in a world without sin... but they have no compunction about profiting from it in the meantime. How could Heavenly Father be displeased when gets a 10% cut?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:57 PM on May 15, 2009


Mr. Crash, maybe you can provide a little background here because I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind the Zion curtains. One part of an article says alcohol must still be kept from view, yet we see a photo of what appear to be plexiglass barriers. The first link also says - and this really confuses me - "Either the bartender had to walk around the counter or hand the items to a server who made the trek around the barrier."

What difference does it make if the drink is handed directly to the customer, or brought to her by a waiter? Or if you have to make the bartender walk around the barrier? Did previous laws dictate having to go through an obstacle course to enter a bar?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:58 PM on May 15, 2009


And here I was thinking that someone tore down Israel's Apartheid Wall.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:58 PM on May 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


In other Utah-/alcohol-related news, a restaurant membership is no longer required in order to purchase a drink.
I drank whiskey on the rocks in a Utah restaurant. To the best of my knowledge, I did not have a membership.

However, I did not pay for it. The businessman who I was meeting with paid for it. Perhaps he had a membership.

However however, I don't see how the restaurant could have known that I wouldn't be paying for it, or that the businessman would, or that he had a membership.

However however however, perhaps there was some secret Mormon signal given from the businessman to the waiter, unbeknownst to me.

In any case, I guess my point is, uhhhhhh?
posted by Flunkie at 3:58 PM on May 15, 2009


The MSNBC headline on the membership link:

Utah bars to open to public to boost tourism

You know... now that you mention it... road trip!
posted by R. Mutt at 3:58 PM on May 15, 2009


In Utah (besides maybe local politics in SLC,) the only vote you can make that counts is the kind you make with your feet.
posted by blenderfish at 4:00 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


the only vote you can make that counts is the kind you make with your feet.

So you have to hold the pen in the voting booth with your toes? I feel like I'm missing something here.
posted by pwally at 4:02 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "What difference does it make if the drink is handed directly to the customer, or brought to her by a waiter? Or if you have to make the bartender walk around the barrier?"

Are you familiar with the LDS Church's... ah... colorful belief system?

You might expect their liquor laws to be equally interesting.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:04 PM on May 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: The so-called "Zion Curtain" referred to the practice of a customer not being able to get a drink directly at the bar. As you surmise, it meant the bartender would mix the drink and then a waitperson would bring it to the customer by going around the bar. No direct handoff of drinks from bartender to customer was permitted.

With the new law, as I understand it, it is permissible for the bartender to pass drinks directly to the customer over the bar, but any new restaurants built with bars in them must have the bar area separated from the general restaurant area so that those not of legal drinking age cannot see the bar area. I may be wrong on this part, however, as it's been confusing even to those of us who have been paying attention.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:04 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The so-called "Zion Curtain" referred to the practice of a customer not being able to get a drink directly at the bar. As you surmise, it meant the bartender would mix the drink and then a waitperson would bring it to the customer by going around the bar. No direct handoff of drinks from bartender to customer was permitted.

The part I'm not getting is how this acted as a deterrent to drinking, presuming that was the point of creating a middleman between bartender and patron. Or was there another reason behind it?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:09 PM on May 15, 2009


You can also now brew your own in Utah. Times, they are a-changin'...
posted by Thorzdad at 4:09 PM on May 15, 2009


The important thing to understand is that, unlike some pious populations, by and large, Mormons aren't that terribly obsessed with preventing "Gentiles" (which is what they call non-mormons) from participating in activities which aren't permitted by their church. However, they don't want to see it, and they really don't want little Timmy seeing it (and therefore getting corrupted by it.) So these wacky laws are designed to be generally permissive (vs. say some liquor laws in the south,) but are trying to create a clean sin-free 'bubble' so Ephram Mormon and his kids can go to Sizzler and not see any alcohol.
posted by blenderfish at 4:09 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Confusing! And the article doesn't help:
Waddops in turn, was behind the push that resulted in the removal of Zion Curtains -- and another aspect of the law that is not as visible as the barriers. The legislation, which does away with private club memberships (beginning July 1), also prohibits minors from sitting at or lingering near restaurant bars. And it prohibits new restaurants from storing or mixing drinks at bars, while grandfathering bars at existing eateries.


That part in italics? What does that mean? New restaurants can't mix drinks at the bar? What? Where do they mix them, then? Is the bartender going to have to go back to a windowless safe room to mix my martini?
posted by rtha at 4:11 PM on May 15, 2009


"The part I'm not getting is how this acted as a deterrent to drinking, presuming that was the point of creating a middleman between bartender and patron."

We (drinkers) never got it either. It was just another barrier which made it more difficult (or annoying) to get a drink.

There's a good conversation with a bartender here at NPR if you have a few minutes.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:12 PM on May 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


It was just another barrier which made it more difficult (or annoying) to get a drink.

Bingo.
posted by ALongDecember at 4:13 PM on May 15, 2009


"New restaurants can't mix drinks at the bar? What? Where do they mix them, then?"

They have to build a separate area out of the view of customers.

"Is the bartender going to have to go back to a windowless safe room to mix my martini?"

Yes, basically.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:13 PM on May 15, 2009


Americans are funny.
posted by Chuffy at 4:16 PM on May 15, 2009


Fascinating. What about non-alcoholic drinks that resemble cocktails, e.g. a Shirley Temple?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:17 PM on May 15, 2009


Is it just me or does the hit and run thing seems a lot like shoving the law of unintended consequences up your nose to see what happens?

Not that I'd have a problem with all hit and run accidents resulting in injuries being felonies.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:17 PM on May 15, 2009


Americans Utahns are funny.*

FTFY.

*with regards to liquor laws
posted by ocherdraco at 4:20 PM on May 15, 2009


It was just another barrier which made it more difficult (or annoying) to get a drink.

So a frustration deterrent. Like parental consent laws, then. Or handgun waiting periods.

(Everyone equally pissed off now? Great.)
posted by rokusan at 4:20 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


"What about non-alcoholic drinks that resemble cocktails, e.g. a Shirley Temple?"

I'll have to leave that to someone who's ever ordered a non-alcoholic drink in Utah. :)
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:21 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank goodness my children won't have to witness any of that public adult beverage preparation shenanigans! They'll have to learn about it right here in our own damn basement bar, at my knee!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:22 PM on May 15, 2009


I drank whiskey on the rocks in a Utah restaurant. To the best of my knowledge, I did not have a membership.

This is based on my memories of bar-hopping stories from a friend who went to Utah on a business trip, so I may be futzing the details a bit (and one of these days I need to get around to really reading up on Utah liquor shenanigans because I find it kind of fascinating), but:

If you don't have a membership at a bar, you can get a temporary membership (for, e.g., the day) for a nominal fee. There may, in fact, be nothing more to the getting-a-temporary-membership process than acknowledging the lack of an existing membership and coughing up the extra few bucks.

Functionally: a cover charge to work around the clash between bars wanting to be able to serve to tourists (and tourists wanting to be able to get served) and the state laws requiring membership to imbibe.

My friend also mentioned a lot of weird idiomatic service behavior—strict limits on the alcohol content of booze (which makes cheap drunks less cheap, for one), the inability to order a double (so instead you order two singles), and some other tidbits I can't recall.

Really, weird fascinating stuff. Everywhere you go in the world, people drink, and every place does it a little differently, but it seems like Utah holds the pennant for weirdness in the US. It's like a game of Nomic, but for real, it seems like.
posted by cortex at 4:22 PM on May 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Waiter, bring me six Jack and Cokes."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:22 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


And as long as we're on the subject, here's the part of Utah liquor laws which has always seemed to me to be the weirdest:

Restaurants and bars pay exactly the same prices for liquor as I do, since they have to buy them at the same state-run liquor stores. No wholesaling of liquor in Utah. If your restaurant buys 1,000 bottles a month, you pay the same price as me, Mister Retail Customer.

And I only buy 500 bottles a month.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:24 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, basically.

Fascinating, mr_crash_davis... . Thanks.
posted by rtha at 4:25 PM on May 15, 2009


"the inability to order a double (so instead you order two singles)"

No more. You used to be able to order a "sidecar", but that went away in the last legislative session, IIRC. One drink at a time for you, mister.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:25 PM on May 15, 2009


Wait, a sidecar?
posted by ocherdraco at 4:26 PM on May 15, 2009


It's not just Utah. Do you still have to get your "mixed drinks" as an airplane bottle of booze and a separate mixer in SC?

Here in VA, all the liquor stores are run by the state. Which makes it difficult if you're looking for anything out-of-the-ordinary...the selection is pretty bleak in most of them. I imagine it's like Communist Russia only with fewer brands of vodka.
posted by JoanArkham at 4:27 PM on May 15, 2009


"Dang. Alright, I'll have six Jack and Cokes ... one at a time."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:28 PM on May 15, 2009


No, a sidecar.

Not to be confused with a sidecar
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 4:28 PM on May 15, 2009


"Is the bartender going to have to go back to a windowless safe room to mix my martini?"

In other news, Utahn also believe in transubstantiation -- When you place your order, the waiter goes into the "safe room", pours some Wild Turkey, and by the time he leaves the safe room it becomes 18yr old Scotch.
posted by qvantamon at 4:29 PM on May 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


Can someone hand me a drink through this hole in my sheet? Thanks.
posted by adipocere at 4:30 PM on May 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


Sidecar
posted by Artw at 4:33 PM on May 15, 2009


Oh, just thought of more VA weirdness...no pitchers of mixed drinks allowed and no happy hour discounts. And you can't add liquor to beer or wine, so sangria and boilermakers are right out.
posted by JoanArkham at 4:33 PM on May 15, 2009


Here in VA, all the liquor stores are run by the state. Which makes it difficult if you're looking for anything out-of-the-ordinary...the selection is pretty bleak in most of them. I imagine it's like Communist Russia only with fewer brands of vodka.

Washington states dingy communist-looking stores actually have a reasonable range of spirits, but having to do a seperate shopping stop there is still very annoying.
posted by Artw at 4:34 PM on May 15, 2009


You used to be able to order a "sidecar"

Oh, right! That was the best part of the guy's story, actually, because we were in a band together that was briefly and tentatively named "Sidecar", and so he goes to Utah and he tries to order a drink and the bartender helpfully tries to walk him through getting him the Utahn facsimile of the drink he actually wants.

And so he hears "something something sidecar something" and he's all, wha? How does this lady know about the band? Wait, no, she can't mean that. She—why would she ask me if I wanted a fucking sidecar, though? I ordered bourbon, dammit.

It's not just Utah.

Yeah, I should further qualify my second-hand-knowledge comment by being clear that my impression is only that Utah is the weirdest, not the strictest, state out there.
posted by cortex at 4:37 PM on May 15, 2009


Alabama has state-owned liquor stores, and heavily taxes the liquor, making it expensive. When I lived in NW Florida, you'd always see a liquor store just as you entered the state, usually imaginatively named State Line Liquor. Alabama had all the state-line fireworks stands.

liquor is one of those words that looks weirder the more you type it
posted by zinfandel at 4:37 PM on May 15, 2009


Great, so now what is keeping Zestpoole and Faundaree from climbing right over the bar like a couple of Palestinian terrorists?
posted by orme at 4:38 PM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I lived in NW Florida, you'd always see a liquor store just as you entered the state

Would that be a drive up liquor store?
posted by R. Mutt at 4:45 PM on May 15, 2009


I went out to dinner with my dad and his friends at a downtown eatery in SLC, and they all got wasted. One of the women got so blasted, she puked on her cheeseburger. She placed her napkin on top of her plate and resumed normal social interaction. No trip to the bathroom. No removal of puke plate. I certainly wish that a a barrier had been placed around her. Later, I realized what an awesome story I now had to share.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:51 PM on May 15, 2009


Sometimes, I really love Missouri. I can buy all the booze I damn well feel like, where I damn well feel like. Bars are only open till 1:30, but I live near a college town, you can hardly throw a rock without hitting an afterbars party.

I remember being very frustrated by NC liquor laws when I lived there, bars were open till 2, but if you wanted some booze for home, you had to go to a state store. And those lazy fuckers were only open till 9 on Fridays.
posted by schyler523 at 5:01 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oklahoma, like Utah, required membership in a "private club" (read: bar) in order to be served. Unlike Utah, they repealed the practice when the electorate voted for liquor-by-the-drink in 1983.

Here's a gallery of "private club membership cards" from Tulsa.

Oklahoma used to also ban advertising of anything stronger than beer on TV -- stations were required to black out the screen when wine commercials were run. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that was unconstitutional in the late 1980s.

They also banned liquor store advertising signs from saying anything but "liquor" in a specified font size, banned the production of homebrew until the mid 90s, only recently allowed wineries in the state to sell their wine off-site of the winery, and still do not allow bars and restaurants to serve anything stronger than 3.2 beer on Sundays (as, of course, 3.2 is "not intoxicating" according to Oklahoma law). Also, grocery stores can't sell anything above 3.2.

And all in all, it's actually a sane system for the US. Liquor stores are privately run and not state-controlled monopolies (like in Washington). You know when and where you can buy beer/wine/liquor and on what days (vs. the goofiness of Alabama or the you can look but not touch on Sunday attitude of Texas). There are no restrictions on refrigeration (unlike some states where there are). And the prices aren't terrible (you can't get a $2 bottle of wine in Washington because wine MUST pass through a middleman who takes his cut, something Costco was suing over).
posted by dw at 5:23 PM on May 15, 2009


When I was in Utah a few years ago, I bought a 6-pack in the grocery store and as soon as I put it on the conveyer for the cashier, he stopped everything (seriously: I was behind someone in line with a cart full of groceries) and asked for my ID. He scrutinized it for at least 30 seconds before handing it back to me. Stressful!
posted by monkeymike at 5:26 PM on May 15, 2009


The important thing to understand is that, unlike some pious populations, by and large, Mormons aren't that terribly obsessed with preventing "Gentiles" (which is what they call non-mormons) from participating in activities which aren't permitted by their church.

Bullshit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:28 PM on May 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


Re: the South Carolina mini-bottle shenanigans... that law was ushered out as we rang in 2006. It has made visits to the in-laws much easier!
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 5:40 PM on May 15, 2009


And those lazy fuckers were only open till 9 on Fridays.

Count yourself lucky. It's 7pm everyday down here in SC.
posted by chiababe at 5:42 PM on May 15, 2009


Bullshit.

Prop 8 was all about protecting their happy mormon sphere. In fact, Prop 8 is a perfect example of what I was saying. They don't want gay marriage called "marriage" for the exact same reason they don't want liquor signs in the restaurant.
posted by blenderfish at 5:44 PM on May 15, 2009


Thr 2 states I've lived in outside of Calif. each had some strange laws. New Jersey, in the early 90s, banned liquor sales in grocery stores, but buying a drink at a bar wasn't a problem. Pumping your own gas was also illegal ( loved that, especially since prices were lower than in surrounding states where serve-yourself was rife) Selling cars on Sunday was also prohibited, though you could buy anything else.

In Oklahoma, you needed to buy a club card to buy a drink at a bar, but most hotels would give you one when you checked in. If you went out to a bar, the law said you were supposed to bring your own bottle to leave behind the bar for future visits, but, in reality, they'd just put your name on a random bottle, likr creme de banana. And, if you actually did byob, you weren't supposed to take it with you, forcing you to drink it all before you left. Grocery stores could sell 3.2 beer, but anything else had to be purchased at state liquor stores, which were a little hard to spot, since the allowed size of the letters on the signs was very small. It struck me as funny that liquor distributors were among the biggest supporters of these laws. I'd guess they couldn't give quantity discounts. When I first moved there in the 70s, most stores of all kinds had to be closed on Sundays, but that soon changed.


I haven't been back to either state in years, so my information is probably out of date, but it waas fun at the time.
posted by path at 5:58 PM on May 15, 2009


Why would someone live in Utah?
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 6:06 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why would someone live in Utah?

In my experience, for non-mormons, either inertia, a job, or outdoorsmanship (skiing and hiking.)
posted by blenderfish at 6:09 PM on May 15, 2009


I am successfully inert outside of Utah!
posted by Flunkie at 6:16 PM on May 15, 2009


I am successfully inert outside of Utah!

How noble of you.
posted by blenderfish at 6:18 PM on May 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Alabama had all the state-line fireworks stands.

And boiled peanut stands, or sometime a combination of the two, plus live bait and videos.
posted by Evangeline at 6:54 PM on May 15, 2009


I would just like to mention that I live in Beijing, where I can buy a liter of paint-thinning rotgut for a dollar at 4 in the morning at the corner store down the street.
posted by saysthis at 6:58 PM on May 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


What finally turned me against Christianity was being stuck with my girlfriend's family on Christmas, wanting to get drunk and see the new Bond movie, and being told that the liquor stores couldn't sell me anything. That shit was the DARK AGES.
posted by klangklangston at 7:04 PM on May 15, 2009


That shit was the DARK AGES

No, in the Dark Ages, the Christians (monks specifically) were all about the beer (link).
posted by blenderfish at 7:14 PM on May 15, 2009


"Restaurants and bars pay exactly the same prices for liquor as I do, since they have to buy them at the same state-run liquor stores."

Same here in BC. Not only that they don't even have a business outlet or hours or similiar. I back up to the dock for 20 odd cases of hard liquor every week and I have to stand in the same line as the guy buying a six pack. We get wine and beer (both in bottles and kegs) delivered though so there maybe some point (probably full pallets of one type) where they'll deliver hard stuff.

"Also, grocery stores can't sell anything above 3.2."

No alcohol in grocery/convenience stores here at all (with the very minor exception of some rural locations where the corner store is the only store for an hour plus around). Beer and wine at beer stores and hard liquor (and beer and wine) at the government run liquor stores. It's so surreal seeing singles in the 7-11 when I'm in the states.
posted by Mitheral at 7:16 PM on May 15, 2009


So this is basically the abstinence-only education theory of alcohol sales: If we don't tell the kids alcohol exists, they won't figure it out on their own.

Good luck with that.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:33 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


And then there's Wisonsin, where every activity, retail opportunity and meal can be accompanied by beer and/or brandy. Go to a state park to take a hike? Stop by the concession stand and grab a beer for the trail. Bring your underaged kid into a bar? They can get served if you say it's ok.
It's refreshing to be someplace that doesn't assume every time you sip a beer, you're just one step away from lying in the gutter, a hopeless alcoholic.
posted by readery at 7:52 PM on May 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


I just moved back to Massachusetts, where sometime in the last eight years they decided it was OK to sell beer in supermarkets on Sunday. As far as I'm concerned, Utah has no challengers when it comes to legislation about alcohol.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:32 PM on May 15, 2009


Thr 2 states I've lived in outside of Calif. each had some strange laws. New Jersey, in the early 90s, banned liquor sales in grocery stores, but buying a drink at a bar wasn't a problem. Pumping your own gas was also illegal ( loved that, especially since prices were lower than in surrounding states where serve-yourself was rife)

Can I just say that this is something that pissed me off about the Sopranos Pine Barrons episode? Chris and Paulie couldn't pump their own gas. IT'S ILLEGAL IN NJ!!

Burying dead russian interior decorators in the woods, though ("his house looked like shit!") that's totally legal in Jersey.


/derail
posted by zarq at 9:18 PM on May 15, 2009


Ironic Derail:

SALT LAKE CITY – President Barack Obama intends to name Utah's Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman, seen by many as a potential GOP presidential contender, to be ambassador to China, a source close to the governor said Friday night.

Now look at the title on this post: "Mr. Huntsman -- Tear. Down. That. Wall."

The Great Wall?
posted by wendell at 9:26 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's refreshing to be someplace that doesn't assume every time you sip a beer, you're just one step away from lying in the gutter, a hopeless alcoholic.

On the other hand, it's Wisconsin, where pretty much everyone is already just one step away from lying in the gutter, a hopeless alcoholic.
posted by dersins at 9:49 PM on May 15, 2009


So this is basically the abstinence-only education theory of alcohol sales: If we don't tell the kids alcohol exists, they won't figure it out on their own.

Yep. That's the idea. Combine it with a little bit of willful ignorance (like my wife's mormon aunt, who found vodka in her son's house, but who was told, and believed it was "for cooking only") and you have a solid plan.
posted by blenderfish at 10:01 PM on May 15, 2009


Does Utah still only have 3.2 beer? I went to school in Logan, and you had to drive to a little grocery store in Franklin, Idaho to find a decent beer selection. Either that or make your own - there were a lot of homebrewers in Logan. I still remember the horror of my first foray into homebrewing - the weird, fungoid Bat-Beer from Pluto.
posted by gamera at 10:16 PM on May 15, 2009


But you haven't lived until you've tried Vodka Stir-Fry. It's almost as good as vodka pancakes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:22 PM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I went to school in Logan

Wow. Not only did you get to drink 3.2 beer, you got theaters with edited versions of R-rated movies. Why'd you ever leave? :)
posted by blenderfish at 10:25 PM on May 15, 2009


Does Utah still only have 3.2 beer?

Even better, I hear they've outlawed grocery stores selling what they call 'Alco-pop', so you have to go to the State Liquor Store to buy your Smirnoff Ice or whatever.
posted by blenderfish at 10:43 PM on May 15, 2009


THIS is why I have avoided Utah all these years
posted by mattoxic at 10:53 PM on May 15, 2009


Here in VA, all the liquor stores are run by the state.

Ohhhh that explains it. I've not yet depleted my going away gift stash so I hadn't really worried about it yet, but where the heck are they? And will they at least provide me with good bourbon?

Kentucky is stupid with its wet and dry counties which may contain wet or dry towns, and the occasional moist towns. Basically the laws encourage people to drive half an hour to get to Applebee's for happy hour then drive home. Great thinking. There are places you can buy alcohol on one side of a street but not the other, and it's hard to remember which restaurants will be serving, and if it's Sunday who the hell knows. Bootlegging is not uncommon.

Then there are curiousities like the "bar" that served no alcohol. Instead you brought your own and they sold you an empty Solo cup. Containers remained hidden under the table so the proprietors could pretend you did not have alcohol. If you didn't refill your cup discreetly and quickly stash your bottle back under the table the terrifying waitresses who were all high on pills would yell at you. I heard they finally got shut down awhile back for tax evasion or some such. I don't think I ever went without getting involved in breaking up a fight in the parking lot at closing time but I miss that place.
posted by little e at 11:22 PM on May 15, 2009


Louisiana has pretty sweet liquor laws. Some parishes require bars to close at 2:00 AM, but you can buy liquor any time of day....anywhere. Plus you can swing in for a drive-through daiquiri.

Somehow I have managed to avoid becoming a homeless ditch-dweller. For now.
posted by pantsonfire at 11:57 PM on May 15, 2009


"On the other hand, it's Wisconsin, where pretty much everyone is already just one step away from lying in the gutter, a hopeless alcoholic.

Or falling into a river.
posted by klangklangston at 12:38 AM on May 16, 2009


I'm in Brisbane, Australia, and I'm drinking a cup of coffee spiked with a double shot of Bailey's right now.


And later, I'll have another double! And another! Take that, Brigham Young!
posted by Jilder at 1:37 AM on May 16, 2009


They don't sell liquor in the grocery store right down the road (Publix) but they have a Publix Liquor two doors down in the same shopping center. Which is nice, because parking to get the hooch is usually way easier, so, you know, thanks Publix.

Running into these kinds of local, antiquated legal gems really makes one want to slip into character, though - maybe strike up a conversation with the clerk about Calvinism or talk about how the man strolling by deserves a few days in the stockades for smiling in public.

Sometimes I'll really cut loose and read a book while listening to music on the Sabbath, but don't tell anyone.
posted by empyrean at 3:52 AM on May 16, 2009


In berlin, you're allowed to drink on public transport. I'm now convinced that everyone else is doing it wrong.
posted by cmyr at 3:57 AM on May 16, 2009


cmyr, that's true of most European countries, really. The UK ought hardly to be renowned for having a liberal attitude to alcohol, but you can purchase intoxicating beverages at any time of day, any day of week, and even while already aboard certain public transport.
posted by Dysk at 4:34 AM on May 16, 2009


Only after living in Austria have I realized how completely twisted the United States is.

Here, you can be sixteen years old and buy beer- but you have to wait until 18 for liquor and alcopops. Bars here often stay open until 5 in the morning. If you want to go down to the park and drink with your friends, it's completely OK and there's nothing anyone can do.

Compare that to Maine, where I'm from. You have to be 21 to buy alcohol but they'll card you up to 45. Bars close at 1AM whereupon everyone immediately has to stop drinking. The local Underage Drinking Taskforce pulls raids on suspected underage drinking, even going out to pit parties where they pull guns on kids and chase them through the woods with dogs. Underage kids can be charged with providing underage kids with alcohol and do jail time.
If you go down to the park with some beers for a comfortable evening, people will be scandalized and report you if the cops haven't already found you on their own and you'll be looking at a fine of $250 or so for an "open container".

There is something very, very wrong with the the United States.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:59 AM on May 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


In my experience, for non-mormons, either inertia, a job, or outdoorsmanship (skiing and hiking.)

My aunt's family--a very outdoorsy (and very non-Mormon) group--has managed to survive quite a while in Utah by gravitating to places where the like-minded collect. As far as I could tell, when I visited the locals' favorite resto-bar in Springdale,* the intrusive arm of the state consisted of a sign saying, "If you're going to drink, you must buy food. Nevada is that way."

*beautiful, ain't it?
posted by kittyprecious at 5:36 AM on May 16, 2009


The local Underage Drinking Taskforce pulls raids on suspected underage drinking, even going out to pit parties where they pull guns on kids and chase them through the woods with dogs.

I wanted to learn more about this and found that - surprise! - there's an Underage Drinking Task Force in many, many states. But Maine's does sound pretty lively:
On regular patrols, Thornton said, officers face a range of situations and have to prioritize calls. The task force patrol allows the officers to focus solely on underage drinking.

“We have more time to sit on a store or a house, to track where there’s a party,” he said. “That’s our only responsibility, short of a shooting or a fatal accident where we need manpower. Our primary goal is what OSA calls ‘party patrol.’”
"Party patrol" makes it sound like a madcap 80s teen movie. I'm picturing a bunch of brosephs with lime-green polo shirts, popped collars, feathered blonde hair, OP khakis and docksiders rolling up to some suburban house in a red Mustang convertible, Billy Squire blasting. They all hop out, strut up to the front door of the house and ring the doorbell. The introverted, socially outcast nerd answers the door, and looks confused. "W-Who are you guys?" he asks uncertainly.

"PARTY PATROL!" the guys shout in unison, and then high five each other.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:54 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


What about non-alcoholic drinks that resemble cocktails, e.g. a Shirley Temple?

That's a Shirley Tabernacle in Utah.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


...my wife's mormon aunt, who found vodka in her son's house, but who was told, and believed it was "for cooking only"...

I'll see you that and raise you my wife's brother who returned home from college one weekend, dumped his jacket in the kitchen, and went to go take a nap. When he awoke, his mom informed him that she had taken the liberty of washing his jacket, but not to worry, she had found the bag of cooking herbs in the pocket and they were sitting safely over on the counter by the stove.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:27 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


He should have made her some really buttery brownies.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:51 AM on May 16, 2009


Here in VA, all the liquor stores are run by the state.

Ohhhh that explains it. I've not yet depleted my going away gift stash so I hadn't really worried about it yet, but where the heck are they? And will they at least provide me with good bourbon?


[derail]

Having grown up in VA, turned 21 while in VA, and now living in Texas, I don't find VA's liquor laws that particularly odd. You can buy beer and wine pretty much anywhere (grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.) but hard liquor must be purchased at your local VA ABC store. The stock and hours, including whether they're open on Sundays or not, vary depending on the location, but prices are fixed by the state. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you shouldn't have any big problems getting a decent selection. There were several VA ABC locations in and around Blacksburg where I went to school and I never had any trouble finding what I was looking for unless it was very specialized. The VA ABC website is pretty good, and tells you if there's a chance of having what you're looking for (they only put stuff on there that they'll stock at all) and how much it will cost.

There seem to be two levels of liquor licenses for restaurants and bars -- one where you're restricted to selling beer and wine and one where you can sell whatever. I've definitely had car bombs with happy hour discounts on them at bars before, so I don't know where JoanArkham's stories are coming from, though it may be that liquor laws can be more restrictive depending on what county or city you're in.

Texas seems to be almost exactly the same except you buy your liquor at specialty liquor stores that are privately run. From what I've seen, their prices and selection are somewhat crappier than the VA ABC stores I've been to. C'est la vie, I suppose.

[/derail]

Oh yeah, Mormon liquor laws are funky. I feel for you, Utahns. Thanks for the post, mudpuppie!
posted by malthas at 7:59 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The real curtain is found on a web page:

* Restaurant - Full service
Restaurant liquor licenses are issued for the storage, sale, service, and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises of a restaurant that is engaged primarily in serving meals to the general public. Restaurant licenses run from November 1 to October 31. The total number of licenses allowed by law is one per 5,200 people in the state.

Patrons may only purchase alcoholic beverages in conjunction with an order for food that is prepared, sold and served at the restaurant. Each restaurant must maintain at least 70% of its total restaurant business from the sale of food.

Licensed restaurants may sell liquor from 12 noon to midnight. The hours of beer sales are from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

For a detailed summary of the Restaurant License, click here

Fees: see Fee Schedule / Bond: $10,000

* Restaurant - Limited service
Limited Restaurant liquor licenses are issued for the storage, sale, service, and consumption of wine, heavy beer, and beer on the premises of a restaurant that is engaged primarily in serving meals to the general public. Restaurant licenses run from November 1 to October 31. The total number of licenses allowed by law is one per 9,300 people in the state.

Patrons may only purchase alcoholic beverages in conjunction with an order for food that is prepared, sold and served at the restaurant. Each restaurant must maintain at least 70% of its total restaurant business from the sale of food.

Limited restaurant licensees may sell wine, and heavy beer from 12 noon to midnight. The hours of beer sales are from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

For a detailed summary of the Limited Restaurant License, click here

Fees: see Fee Schedule / Bond: $5,000

* Resort License
Resort Licenses are issued for the storage, sale, service, and consumption of alcoholic beverages on the premises of a resort building that has at least 150 dwelling or lodging accommodations (50% of which must be owned by a person other than the resort licensee) and the building must be at least 400,000 square feet. The resort building must be affiliated with a ski area that abuts the resort building premises.

Licenses run from November 1 to October 31, and only four (4) of these resort licenses are available statewide. Call the DABC licensing division at 801-977-6800 for information.

posted by Brian B. at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2009


I live in Indiana, where you can get not only Budwieser and Coors and whatnot at the grocery store, but also a fine selection of microbrews and regional beers from around the country. It's freaky awesome and I have no idea how this place lucked into handling liquor sales so well. I guess the Sunday blue law makes up for it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2009


I just moved back to Massachusetts, where sometime in the last eight years they decided it was OK to sell beer in supermarkets on Sunday.

Wait, what? I thought that a year or two ago MA voted down extending beer and wine sales to supermarkets etc. (except for the single store per chain that's permitted to sell, I guess, which still confuses me.) It was nice when the rules for liquor stores on Sundays got less stupid, though, which did happen five or so years ago.
posted by ubersturm at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2009


*sigh* I wish Pope Guilty would have stuck around and provided an articulate counterargument to my statement about the general motivation of the Mormon church, rather than just say "bullshit" and link to a Wikipedia article about Prop 8. (which got him 8 favorites, so well done, sir.)

I'm curious to hear about his childhood/young adulthood growing up as a non-mormon in Utah. Perhaps we can compare experiences.
posted by blenderfish at 12:12 PM on May 16, 2009


Sorry about the slightly bitter tone of that. But seriously, don't try to extrapolate too much about Utah politics from Prop 8.
posted by blenderfish at 12:20 PM on May 16, 2009


The LDS Church put massive amounts of money and manpower into an effort to deny basic civil rights to a group of people for the sole reason that their faith teaches them that these people are immoral. This shows any claim that they don't try to interfere with the rights of non-Mormons to be a blatant (and frankly, knowing) lie. That you need it spelled out for you is your own fault and your own problem.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:09 PM on May 16, 2009


The LDS Church put massive amounts of money and manpower into an effort to deny basic civil rights to a group of people for the sole reason that their faith teaches them that these people are immoral. This shows any claim that they don't try to interfere with the rights of non-Mormons to be a blatant (and frankly, knowing) lie. That you need it spelled out for you is your own fault and your own problem.

Okay. I understand and share your anger against them for this. I voted against Prop 8 and have gay Utahn friends who protested Temple Square. I also agree the result of Prop 8 is to deny civil rights. However, the notion that Mormons see Prop 8 as a way to punish gay people is silly (though I am sure some of them do.) They don't want same-sex marriage recognized in California because they know that if it is, it is only a matter of time before it has to be recognized to Utah and/or they and little Timmy will be exposed to it. And when it does, they are afraid that little Timmy will catch the Ghey. I never claimed (in fact, after living there 15 years FAR BE IT) they don't interfere with the rights of non-Mormons. They will stomp over these rights to achieve their ends. But it is important to understand their motivation. I offer this as an explanation of why the liquor laws are so 'weird', when they could, like in a lot of places in the South, just outright ban alcohol altogether.

I lived in Utah for 15 years; I frequently ate at the Chili's on 4th south mentioned in the article. I went to Mormon (they call it "public") elementary, junior high, high school, and university. I have Mormon, Ex-Mormon, and Non-mormon friends and members of my extended family, and have had many frank discussions about these topics with these people. But, by all means, feel free to continue to offer your unique Indiana perspective on the situation.
posted by blenderfish at 1:40 PM on May 16, 2009


How long until we get a Scientologist state?

(I sure as hell hope we don't.)
posted by dunkadunc at 1:42 PM on May 16, 2009


I lived in Utah for 15 years; I frequently ate at the Chili's on 4th south mentioned in the article. I went to Mormon (they call it "public") elementary, junior high, high school, and university. I have Mormon, Ex-Mormon, and Non-mormon friends and members of my extended family, and have had many frank discussions about these topics with these people. But, by all means, feel free to continue to offer your unique Indiana perspective on the situation.

This merely shows that you are offering an opinion, which might be based on your wishful thinking. Either way, you chose to discredit any objectivity that others might have in favor of your subjective experience. You might want to consider that you are asking us to accept your opinion as fact.
posted by Brian B. at 2:02 PM on May 16, 2009


This merely shows that you are offering an opinion

True. However, my opinion is based on a huge volume of personal experiences.

Either way, you chose to discredit any objectivity that others might have in favor of your subjective experience

You have offered no objective anything. You have extrapolated their motivations from no facts whatsoever. Yes, they are against Gay marriage. I offered an explanation of why, and you offered "because, obviously, they hate gays, duh, and anyone who says anything else is a liar." If you have any evidence, personal experiences, etc., to back this claim up, please feel free to offer it now.

you are asking us to accept your opinion as fact.

I am asking you not to dismiss my opinion as "bullshit" or to call me a liar.
posted by blenderfish at 2:56 PM on May 16, 2009


Malthas: Specs.
posted by zinfandel at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2009


How long until we get a Scientologist state?

When Southern California is forcibly seceded from the rest of the state.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:06 PM on May 16, 2009


You're engaging in special pleading and I'll be dead and buried before I evince even the slightest respect for it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:33 PM on May 16, 2009


Damn. Alright, how about just Orange County?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:36 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The LDS Church put massive amounts of money and manpower into an effort to deny basic civil rights to a group of people for the sole reason that their faith teaches them that these people are immoral.

As soon as you are prepared to offer ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER for this claim, (second-hand research is perfectly acceptible,) please feel free. This is not true, and you have not supported it at all. You have called my opinion variously "bullshit" "a lie" and "wishful thinking" with, again no evidence. Your opinion is apparently "objective truth" somehow, despite the fact you know nothing about Mormon doctrine, Mormon culture, or Utah politics. You are talking purely from your gut, and marginalizing an entire group of people, who, wrong as they may be, are not idiots or cartoon characters.

You're engaging in special pleading and I'll be dead and buried before I evince even the slightest respect for it.

Cool. I guess my kindergarten teacher was right and all opinions are equally valid. Have you considered a job in TV punditry?
posted by blenderfish at 5:04 PM on May 16, 2009


To clarify:
The Mormons put massive amounts of money and manpower into Prop 8 because they (erroneously, in my opinion) believe homosexuality is a choice/addiction; something you "pick up" from other people or the media like smoking or drinking. They are afriad that if they or their kids are exposed to homosexuality, (or smoking or drinking) they are likely to 'pick it up.' To them, disallowing gay marriage is marketing, like banning alcohol ads in restaurants. Out of sight, out of mind, and the vices of the Gentiles won't get to them or little Timmy. (They of course, fail to realize/care about the civil rights implications of this.) Though it may certainly appear as though the Mormons are going out of their way to persecute gays (or drinkers), that is not the goal-- again, to them, gays are not inherently immoral or evil (as Pope Guilty asserts they believe,) but just normal people who 'fell into' a bad lifestyle, and can be cured of it. Not allowing gay marriage (or visible alcohol in restaurants, etc.) means their kids are less likely to see that as a possible choice and 'choose' to be gay (or drink.)

You don't have to believe me, but this is based on a lot of primary research.

Anyway, I'm done with this.
posted by blenderfish at 5:14 PM on May 16, 2009


I am asking you not to dismiss my opinion as "bullshit" or to call me a liar.

I am not Pope Guilty, yet you address me as though I am. If you are asking me not to do something I haven't even attempted, then you are paranoid. I usually don't respect the opinions of the paranoid, especially when they demand it beforehand.
posted by Brian B. at 5:24 PM on May 16, 2009


A simple mistake, Brian B. Sorry.

Anyway, I stand by my statement that in no way was Pope Guilty offering 'objectivity.' Am I subjective? Sure. My opinion is based on the distillation of a lot of conversations, with people who have sometimes differing opinions.

However, he didn't merely suggest, as you did, that my view was subjective. That would have been reasonable. If he had some differing views, based on talking to some Mormons, or something a Mormon said on the news, or logic, that would have been fine.

However, he said 'bullshit' and called me a liar. Which is offensive, especially considering his credibility in the matter. I have disagreed with him on no objective facts, merely his interpretations of the motivations of Mormons, which appear to be based on armchair fantasy.
posted by blenderfish at 5:33 PM on May 16, 2009


Anyway, I'm sure its something Popey and I could have a couple beers and figure out. Text is a really bad way to argue.

dunkadunc -

I remember reading some news story about a guy who lived in a predominantly Scientologist town in California, who felt he was being threatened/mistreated by the police there.
posted by blenderfish at 6:19 PM on May 16, 2009


Cool, thanks malthas! There's one not too far from my neighborhood, I guess I just hadn't ventured that direction yet.
posted by little e at 10:27 PM on May 16, 2009


There were posts on this very website about the massive amounts of cash and manpower the Mormons put forth to support Prop 8. If you're disputing that the Mormons put forth these resources in an effort to keep same-sex marriage illegal, there can be no discussion, as you are simply refusing to act in good faith.

If you are insisting (as I suspect you are) that it is somehow acceptable or not so bad for the Mormons to have done this because their intentions were... I don't know, you seem to think their intentions were good and this somehow absolves them. There is no intention or motivation that a human being can have that makes it excusable or forgivable to deny human beings their basic human rights. As long as you continue to claim that somehow it's not so bad, I will not in any way agree with you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2009


He doesn't seem to be insisting on either of those things, as far as I can tell. blenderfish is making the argument that the internal motivations of the Mormon activists/lobbyists are consistent with a specific outlook that differs from your characterization of their motivations.

What he hasn't been doing is saying that it's awesome that the Mormons did this or that their reasoning is good or likable. You seem to be objecting fiercely to some sort of absolution of guilt that as far I can tell blenderfish hasn't once attempted to extend to the Prop 8 boosters.

You and I feel, I think, very strongly similarly about gay marriage right and about what a shitty accomplishment the Mormon boosterism of Prop 8 was. I point this out because I want to be clear that despite that, we're having very, very different readings of blenderfish's comments. It feels to me like you may be accidentally treating him or his discussion of internal motivations within the Mormon party as a proxy for your anger at the Prop 8 action and result itself, which doesn't seem fair to blenderfish at all.
posted by cortex at 12:55 PM on May 17, 2009


Why would someone live in Utah?

Maybe because Colorado and Idaho are filled with religious fanatics, and Arizona is too hot.
posted by Brian B. at 2:22 PM on May 17, 2009


Cortex nailed it. Thank you.

They did this, and it is bad that they did this. Nothing can change that. You can choose to, or not to "excuse" or "forgive" them for this, and I don't suggest that you do or do not. But the way forward is, besides obviously opposing their actions in the short term, is in the long term changing their minds by correcting their incorrect assumptions. (From my experience, Mormons of my generation understand that Homosexuality isn't a 'choice' to a much greater extent than their parents, so this may be somewhat of a self-solving problem as time goes on.)

Anyway, good luck fighting the good fight.
posted by blenderfish at 5:36 PM on May 17, 2009


I'm reluctant to believe in the inevitability of positive change, but the fact that even among the children of of conservative loonies, acceptance of homosexuality is on the rise gives me hope.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:19 PM on May 19, 2009


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