Utah Liquor Law and the Immaculate Concoction

Hide the alcoholA bill under consideration in Utah would require that two of the five members of its Alcohol Beverage Control Commission must be "drinkers". This is pretty funny on its face as no other state in the Union would ever have need for such a law. However, if passed this law won't be the piece of Utah liquor legislation that makes me laugh the most.

In Utah it is against the law to mix a drink in view of the patron that ordered the drink.

I've been looking everywhere for an explanation for this law beyond the well known requirement that Tom Wark be made to chuckle every time he thinks about Utah liquor laws. I can't find another justification for the law.

As you likely know, Utah is populated heavily by members of the Mormon religion who have determined that God does not like his creation to imbibe in alcohol—despite the fact that it was He who presumably created the process of fermentation. So while humorous to me, it's not pure folly that has led to the various odd liquor laws that populate the Utah legal code.

What I'm wondering is what those who wrote this law screening patrons from the view of the bartender hoped to accomplish, or stave off. Would the sight of a drink being mixed give the patron ideas more insidious than the actual drinking of the cocktail, that one assumes is done with eyes open?

If there is no one to see a drink being mixed, did it simply appear: The Immaculate Concoction?

I'm not sure what changes might result from two of five drinkers occupying positions on the Utah Alcohol Beverage Control Commission. Given that upwards of 40% of the state does not claim to adhere to Mormonism, perhaps the move makes sense. I suspect however that given teetotalers will still have a majority on the Commission, change from a humorous set of laws to a rational set of liquor law might be slow in coming.

State Representative Brian Doughty, the sponsor of the bill is reported to have said:

"The state has chosen to be in the liquor industry, for good or bad. We need to ensure that we have a voice on the liquor commission from the people we are regulating."

It's hard to argue with that.


12 Responses

  1. Larry Chandler - February 27, 2012

    The purpose of the law preventing the public from seeing drinks made is to prevent small children from being so enthralled by the mixing of drinks that they would automatically become alcoholics. And as we know, all small children so love the taste of alcohol that making drinks behind what is called the “Zion Curtain” is in the public interest.
    The idea that parents who don’t want their children to instantly become raving drunkards could actually choose a restaurant that does not serve alcohol is silly. And of course no one at a nearby table would ever say “this martini is delicious” and have a kid overhear that, even though that is permitted.
    For some silly reason, the Hospitality Industry is suing the Church for interfering in governmental affairs. Why they think the church interferes could only be because the government insists that it’s perfectly fine for the church to be represented at all meetings that discuss alcohol.
    And if someone wants to order a martini made with, say, Bombay Sapphire, they can still do so, even though they won’t be sure that’s what they are getting. So they order a cheaper gin. And that costs money. And if the restaurant made too much money from alcohol, that’s also illegal, as 75% of profits must come from food. And the consequences of all that might be increased business and more jobs, well, that’s unimportant. Jobs do not matter in Utah, unless it’s to insist on strip coal mining operations near National Parks.
    Good ole Utah.

  2. Tom Wark - February 27, 2012

    I can honestly say I never considered the possibility that the law shielding patrons from seeing the cocktail being concocted might be in order to prevent the children from seeing this magic act and becoming enthralled.
    This is my mistake. I should know by now that everything is about the children.

  3. Fabio Bartolomei - February 28, 2012

    These Romans are much crazier then we ever thought, oh Asterix!
    PS. Love the Immaculate Concoction – I think we might be able to use that, especially here in catholic Spain 🙂

  4. Thomas Pellechia - February 28, 2012

    Your best headline ever!
    Do they have Postum bars in Utah?

  5. Tom Wark - February 28, 2012

    Yours is the first comment to ever reference Asterix on this blog. It really ought to earn you a prize of some sort.

  6. Doug Wilder - February 28, 2012

    One of my favorite Utah stories is being back there for a wedding reception and spent an afternoon up at Snowbird (it was August and we rode the chairlift to the top. Every drinking establishment I had come across in Utah had a warning sign about alcohol being served there with the admonition that THIS WARNING MUST BE POSTED IN A CONSPICUOUS LOCATION. I didn’t appreciate it until we went to what would pass as a bar at Snowbird and all of the female staff had this warning sign printed on their rather snug t-shirts. And yes, some were more conspicuous than others.

  7. Marcia M - February 28, 2012

    Larry’s explanation about concern for the children made me think of the (evil) magician/Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. As if the mixing of drinks is so entincing to kids to seem like candy. What happens when the patron goes to sip the drink? Is it suddenly unappealing to children?
    Concur with Thomas: Best post title ever!

  8. Larry Chandler - February 29, 2012

    Wal-Mart sells beer (3.2 beer or 4% ABV). There is a big sign in front of the beer selection that says “Caution! These products contain alcohol”

  9. Fabio Bartolomei - March 1, 2012

    For my prize, how about a bottle natural Gallic wine, made the way it used to be made, before the Romans came along with all their interventions and new-fangled technologies 🙂

  10. michael Grisley - March 7, 2012

    Believe it or not, I’m a wine importer who was born and raised in Utah, and I still call Salt Lake my home. The recent bills that have passed, such as the “Zion Curtain” as Larry mentioned, aren’t anything new here unfortunately. However, here’s a good re-cap for all you “out of staters” of what’s going on up at Capitol Hill regarding alcohol laws in Utah (please don’t laugh, you’ll only hurt my feelings). http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-77-15584-latest-on-lir-legislation.html?utm_source=Fast+5+Wednesday%2C+March+7%2C+2012&utm_campaign=Fast+Five&utm_medium=email

  11. Amelia Quailler - March 9, 2012

    This is pretty interesting. I didn’t know there were laws like this, but I can see where it comes from. I really like the corporate law salt lake city has to offer, and also the utah real estate law, and others; so I trust the state to make decisions.

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