'Tis the season to try and be jolly. The one-dimensional Zoom cocktail parties are kind of a bore now, but if you mix in a drinking game with prizes you might have more fun! This is the time of the year when we pay attention to when and where liquor stores are open, because some of us heathens want to buy wine to give as gifts or load up on supplies for a cold winter's night.
Happily, the State of Utah is keeping all locations open during the COVID-19 winter of our discontent. Liquor stores are open (except on state holidays) Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., although the closing time may vary depending on the location. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC) operates more than 40 package stores staffed by mostly part-time retail employees.
Utah's drinking laws really aren't that weird, since there are other states that maintain tight control over alcohol consumption. In Utah, our alcohol practices are guided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to which most Utah residents belong. The Word of Wisdom given in the Doctrine and Covenants advises its members against the consumption of alcohol. Thus, legislators have attempted for more than a century to make Utah a dry state or at least one where it's difficult to find a drink. Ironically, in 1933, the state of Utah provided the deciding vote needed to repeal Prohibition nationally and then left it to individual citizens if they wanted to drink or not.
When I moved to Utah in the 1970s, to get a cocktail you had to 1. belong to a private club that charged an annual fee or 2. order a drink with your meal by going up to the hostess of a restaurant and buying a mini bottle (like you would buy on an airplane). You would take that back to your table and order a mixer, and then mix your drink yourself. More recently, we had the "Zion Curtain" that legislators imposed on bars and restaurants to keep patrons from seeing how cocktails were made, and that turned into a national farce and confused people to no end. Bars and restaurants also had to put up signs to say, "This premise is licensed as a restaurant, not a bar" or vice versa. All of these are laws ultimately embarrass Utah.
Many bars have closed due to COVID-19 and more may fail if PPP funds aren't made available by the government. Fortunately, the governor just approved restoring bars' hours of operation.
One update for those who drink. The state store in Lamplighter Square on Foothill Drive has closed and re-opened at the space formerly occupied by Red Butte Café across the street at Foothill Village. The Lamplighter Square is being demolished along with the old Skyline Inn and a few other buildings near it to make way for a new mixed use construction project.
Cheers! And Happy Freakin' New Year ... please?!