Utah's Liquor Laws Get Even Stranger
By: Chris Kramer
Most of the time, when states decide to change laws regarding the sale or packaging of alcohol, it is usually part of an effort to curb drunk driving. However, new liquor laws in Utah don't seem to make that much sense and are geared more towards improving the state's image.
Utah has some of the strictest liquor laws in the United States. Before the new law was passed, a standard shot of liquor in Utah was one ounce while in most other states and countries a standard shot is 50 percent more than that. The new law will increase the size of a shot to the normal 1.5 ounces, but drinkers will not be able to order additional alcohol for their drinks.
The new law in Utah marks the first major change in the state's liquor laws in several years. Governor Jon Huntsman supported the legislation and has said that the changes will make Utah seem more normal to the rest of the world. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Utah is still the only state to limit the amount of liquor allowed in a standard shot. Drinkers in Utah are not allowed to order doubles.
The new legislation specifically bans "sidecars," which means that a patron at a bar can no longer order an additional 1 ounce shot of alcohol to add to their mixed drink. Shots of liquor will still be available at bars, however the new law will restrict what can be served. If a person is already drinking a mixed drink that contains vodka, they will not be able to order a shot of vodka while the mixed drink is on the table. Under the new law, only shots of liquor that are not already in drinks that are on the table will be served. This is sure to make things more complicated for bartenders and wait staff, as they will now have to keep track of what each person is drinking at any given time in order to only serve within the law.
Also under the new law, Utah will become the only state to remove wine coolers and flavored malt beverages from the grocery stores. Grocery stores will no longer be able to sell these beverages because the law says that they must only be sold at liquor stores. Some lawmakers say that these drinks are marketed to minors and therefore by taking them out of the grocery stores, they will hopefully be out of reach for minors.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced last month that it was in support of removing wine coolers and flavored alcoholic beverages from supermarkets in Utah. MSNBC reports that up to 90 percent of Utah lawmakers and 60 percent of Utah residents are Mormon, so after the law got the nod from the church, it was pretty much a sure thing.
The residents of Utah who deal with tourists say that the new law will not improve the state's image. Many people may find it strange that Utah state law now encourages mixing alcohol for no apparent reason. The new law says that 50% more alcohol may be served per drink, but if that's not enough alcohol, the drinker will have to order a different type of liquor.
It's confusing and ironic that Governor Huntsman believes that the law would make Utah not seem so strange to others. If anything, Utah's new liquor laws are more odd than ever.