How Salt Lake City’s Quirky Liquor Laws Lead to Unique Cocktail Menus

The Mormon majority in Utah makes it a particularly difficult place to own a bar. The liquor laws are unlike those anywhere else. One Salt Lake City restauranteur opened what became a very popular restaurant and closed a little more than two years later -because the restaurant had always been a place-holder until a liquor license became available and the originally-planned bar could be launched. And that’s just the beginning of the quirky alcohol restrictions.    

Whether it's served neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, hard liquor is restricted to a 1.5-ounce serving. But in a cocktail, you can use 2.5 ounces of spirit in total, as long as the other ounce comes from a secondary spirit. "The one thing I always try to explain to our guests is, 'If you're looking for a stiff drink, you need to go after a cocktail, not just something neat to sip on,'" says Copper Common beverage director/bar manager Maureen Segrave-Daly. "I can't pour you two-and-half ounces of bourbon, but I can make you a bourbon cocktail with an ounce and a half of bourbon and an ounce of something else."

Theoretically, you can order an ounce-and-a-half of bourbon with a one-ounce chase of something else. You just can't have two servings of the same spirit, and the 2.5 ounce limit means there's no way to serve a "double" even if you could. "What's more difficult than anything else," says Segrave-Daly, "is explaining to someone why he can't get a double scotch, even though the person next to him has a scotch cocktail that's twice the size of a neat scotch."

Those restrictions mandate some creative cocktail recipes and constant experimentation. Read about more of the strange Utah liquor laws enacted by people who don’t drink alcohol at Eater. -via Digg

(Image credit: David Newkirk/Copper Common)

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I was born and raised in Utah, and believe me, the liquor laws are liberal compared to the 1990s. Back then, most bars could serve only beer. Wine and liquor was sold only in State -owned liquor stores--which closed at 9 PM and were never open on Sundays or election days.
If you went into a bar and ordered a mixed drink, it wasn't going to happen. Unless you were a member of a private club, and brought in your own liquor, which you had to keep in a locker. Or if you went into one of those rare bars which had a state liquor licensed mini-bottle store. Want a Gin and tonic? This was the drill: You order the drink. Bartender fills a glass with ice, tonic water, and lime wedge. Meanwhile, you go to the mini-bottle counter and purchase your gin. Then you had to pour the gin in the glass yourself.
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That's going to be hard, as 62% of Utah residents are Mormon.

Where I live, which is not as religion-dominated as Utah, it took thirty years and dozens of referendums to repeal blue laws, because the anti-liquor vote is much better organized than the pro-liquor vote.
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