Were the authors of Utah liquor laws drunk?I don’t understand Utah liquor laws, and it’s not because I haven’t tried. I’m a Utah native who has an occasional glass of wine or a sip of beer. By Utah standards, that makes me an alcoholic. I’m not kidding when I say that when I order a beer, I order the sample size. I remember mini bottles. I’m not sure what the intent was there, but it didn’t solve anything. They were just easier to hide!

I also remember private clubs, where Utah liquor laws were on steroids. When I was in my twenties, if one wanted to dance (which apparently is also illegal), one had to belong to a private club. That meant buying a membership. It was inconvenient but not a deterrent. The strategy was that each individual in our small group bought a different membership to a different club. Bar hopping? Not really a problem. It worked great as most “clubs” were located in the Salt Lake downtown area within close proximity of one another. We were a sneaky, scheming group.

Then there’s the “open container” issue, which I’m pretty sure is still in effect. Because it’s illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol in your car, you had damn well finish it before you leave the bar, restaurant, or event. So, as law-abiding citizens, we were more than happy to comply. None of us ever got pulled over as I think the police were probably already in bed. Utah liquor laws strike again!

There’s the notorious Zion Curtain. Just a few questions here. If the customer is barred from watching the bartender pour his or her drink, couldn’t the bartender put whatever he or she wanted in it? Maybe you are getting something with no alcohol, a ton of alcohol or something entirely different from what you ordered. I can’t really tell the difference between a pricey Merlot and “two buck Chuck,” so I guess I would be a hapless victim. I know, I probably shouldn’t admit it in a public forum, but it’s all about disclosure. Also, is preventing a child from watching a bartender pour a mixed drink really necessary? I think most children over the age of two can probably figure it out, especially if they watch their lawless parents pour a drink at home. Why is a child in a bar anyway? If you intend to participate in adult-oriented dining and drinking, why not pay a sitter to watch the kids and enjoy yourself?

I am in the process of trying to organize a fun event to raise some money for a favorite cause. I can’t even disclose the whereabouts of the event or the purpose because alcohol may be served. I will tell you what I know, which at this point isn’t much. Utah liquor laws still confuse me.

Apparently, alcohol can be served at a “private party.” That is helpful, but since it’s a private party, the event can’t be advertised in a public forum. This is a fundraiser. We want people there with funds!

Seems that if the gathering is an “event,” then you need an event permit. You can serve alcohol but not sell it. That means someone has to buy it and serve it, which is probably you. Make sure the stuff has Utah liquor labels as the revenue from the sinful beverage should not be going to another state. It is unlawful in Utah to advertise that there will be alcohol served at any event. I think the wine club has it figured out. I haven’t.

No one is allowed to leave the premises with an alcoholic beverage of any kind. Now you have to employ a bouncer to keep people in! Make sure it’s a WWF wrestler or your cousin Vinnie, with the big guns.

The only thing I know so far is what I can’t do, not what I can do. Therefore my advice is this: If you are organizing an event where alcohol will be served, and everyone knows you need it at a fundraiser, make certain you cover your ass. The location should be a secret, the event cannot be advertised publicly, urge everyone to bring their own alcohol, and include the cost of bail in the price of the admissions. Just saying.

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  1. I think the explanation for Utah’s strange liquor laws is fairly straightforward:

    1. The Utah legislature is an extension of the LDS church.

    2. The LDS church wants to control the behavior of everyone in Utah, and thinks it knows what is best for everyone, regardless of a person’s religious beliefs.

    3. As a thoroughly human invention, LDS doctrine necessarily contains internal contradictions and contradictions of its stated beliefs.

    4. Those contradictions are reflected in the laws.

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