Drinking Season | Urban Living

Drinking Season

Babs gives the lowdown on Utah's holiday drinking culture.

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Thanksgiving is here this week, and Hanukkah starts Dec. 6; then there's Christmas and New Year's Eve/New Year's Day—well, lets just say, 'tis the season to drink more alcoholic beverages than usual.

But how anybody manages to get their hands on the Holiday Spirit is anybody's guess. There are a paltry 44 state liquor and wine stores in the entire state of Utah.

Our liquor was placed under the state's control soon after prohibition ended. The 21st Amendment not only made adult beverages legal again, but also gave individual states the right to control distribution. Two years later, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC) was formed.

On its website, the UDABC explains: "The purpose of control is to make liquor available to those adults who choose to drink responsibly—but not to promote the sale of liquor. By keeping liquor out of the private marketplace, no economic incentives are created to maximize sales, open more liquor stores or sell to underage persons." Utah's system may seem archaic, but it is far from unique: There are 18 states and a county in Maryland that control sales of booze at the retail level.

The Utah liquor auditors reported that drinking is up this year in the Beehive State, racking up $396 million in sales for the 2015 fiscal year. OMG, that is double what was sold here less than 10 years ago!

The UDABC has also released a list of the most popular beverages sold in Utah during that time period. Top branded products were Barton Vodka and Jack Daniels black label. Barton is the vodka many bars used in "well" drinks—that is cheap mixed beverages. To me, Barton smells and tastes a bit like rubbing alcohol.

Are you a wine drinker? Then you know that each year's Beaujolais is released worldwide on the third Thursday of November. I always run down to snatch a few bottles of "baby wine"—or "just barely wine"—so as to wash down my turkey dinner with the new red. UDABC is notorious for its failure to get Beaujolais in stock on the day of its release, but it's there now, so try some. It's cheap and sweet.

Utahns are white wine drinkers, according to sales data. In 2014, we drank 55,029 bottles of Kendall Jackson chardonnay.

Those among us who enjoy drinking cheap beer bought a million units of Coors Icehouse.

But, whatever you drink, here's a toast to you from me and the staff at City Weekly for a happy and safe holiday. Plan your liquor shopping accordingly.

Just remember: A cab ride is a lot cheaper than a DUI!

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