There are many misconceptions about being able to get a drink and purchase alcohol in Utah. Many of the more restrictive laws have changed over the past few years making things much easier than they used to be. Below are some of the things to know:
1. All wine, beer (over 3.2%) and hard liquor must be purchased at a Utah State Liquor Store. The prices are surprisingly reasonable (typically much less than other states) and the selection very varied though this depends on the store. The stores are opened Monday – Saturday and are not open on Sundays or holidays. The hours vary by store so make sure you check online or call in advance to check hours (http://abc.utah.gov/about/index.html )In my opinion, the two best stores with the largest selection of wine and beer are:
Utah State Wine Store – 255 S 300 E Salt Lake City, UT (801)533-6444. This store also carries some hard liquor and has a great selection of whiskies.
Utah State Liquor and Wine Store – 1863 7000 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84121, (801) 942-6234. This is on the route from the airport to Alta and Snowbird and is a block from Whole Foods and a major grocery store.
Snowbird General Gritts – located in the Snowbird Center (Entry #2) is a small state liquor store that carries wine and beer. (801)521-6040
Alta Lodge – the Alta Lodge has a small store located in the lower level of the lodge that carries a small selection of wines. (801)742-3500
2. Bars and Restaurants – you can get a drink in a bar and/or restaurant in Utah. All bars sell food and are not permitted to seat anyone under the age of 21 in the bar area. Serving alcohol requires a special license so depending on the establishment’s license they many offer a full bar or just wine and beer.
3. What is the “Zion Curtain” – restaurants that sell alcohol are required by law to prepare drinks out of the sight of customers. I don’t really have a good explanation for this one….
4. 3.2% Beer? Though you cannot purchase full strength beer, wine or alcohol at a grocery or convenience store you can purchase 3.2% alcohol beer.
5. Do I need a membership to get into a bar? This was one of the old laws that did away with – phew. You are no longer required to pay a membership fee to a restaurant or bar in order to get a drink.
6. Corkage….one of the fun rules in Utah is that you can bring your own wine to a restaurant. It must have a sticker showing that it was purchased in the State of UT (this is on all bottles purchased at the state liquor store) and the restaurants will typically charge you a corkage fee. The corkage fees vary per restaurant however, you will almost always end up having a nicer bottle of wine at a lower cost if you bring your own.
The bottom line; with a little advanced planning you should have no problem imbibing while at Alta and Snowbird. For those interested, the link below offers some more insights into the laws governing the sale of alcohol in Utah.