It should come as no surprise to anyone that Utah might have some regressive laws regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol. In the epicenter of the Mormon religion which believes fervently that the consumption of fermented beverages bars one from eternal salvation after death, it is no surprise that the state might make it difficult for non-teetotalers to get a delicious malted drink.
What is interesting is the sort of inconsistent, compromised positions on the sale and consumption of alcohol to those within the boundaries of the great state of Utah. My personal favorite is the concept of Zion Curtains which codified the hiding of the creation of alcoholic beverages from restaurant customers.
The justification for such an odd law is that it allows those who want alcohol to purchase and consume alcohol yet allows that consumption to be inconspicuous from those who find spirituous beverages impious. Thus the large number of happy Mormon practitioners within the state need not be tempted by the sight of the almighty Budweiser while dining with the fellow heathen citizenry and those who find no moral qualm with drinking are allowed to do so with protections afforded by the law.
Another legal quirk in Utah is that it is illegal to buy alcohol in a restaurant before ordering food. In order to cut down on drinking for its own sake Utah has long held that patrons must show intent to buy food as well as alcohol in order to legally imbibe. This obviously ridiculous regulation caused a string of sting operations in restaurants state-wide which eventually led to state house bill HB240 which seeks to clarify not alter existing law that patrons are allowed to order alcohol before food so long as they signal some intent on purchasing food. This of course doesn’t change the fact that going to Chili’s for margaritas after work is a criminal offense in Utah.
The good news is that Utah seems to be seeing the light as sales of alcohol have far outpaced the states increase in population indicating that more Utah citizens are enjoying an adult beverage on vacation. It has also helped increased tourism numbers to help aid the state’s budget.
In the end I predict that there will be a continued liberalization of Utah’s liquor laws over the next decade but for now, it is best you know what you are getting in to when visiting.