Convenience vs. Privacy in Utah Bars

The good news: A Utah legislator wants to get rid of his state's wacky private club rule, under which every full-service bar is ostensibly a member-only facility where customers cannot order drinks until they fill out an application and pay a fee to join the "club." The bad news: He wants to replace it with a license-scanning system that would keep track of who is drinking where to facilitate police investigations. "This is better than the private club model we have now," says state Sen. Valentine John Valentine (R-Orem). Drinkers who value their privacy aren't so sure.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control explains the "private club" concept, which Gov. Jon Huntsman also wants to scrap, here. "Although clubs are primarily for members and their guests," the department notes, "most clubs offer temporary 'visitor card' memberships for a nominal fee (usually $4 for three weeks). The visitor card allows the visitor and up to seven of his/her guests to use the club."'s Ted Balaker interviews a Park City bartender about Utah's weird booze rules here.

[Thanks to Zach Perry for the tip.]

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  • BDB||

    Hell, I'm shocked Utah isn't still a "dry" state!

  • ||

    Is this really a "state" law or just for Salt Lake city? I've been to a number of bars in Logan, UT and they were no different from bars anywhere else.

  • ||

    Yeah, I won't be visiting Utah unless I have to.

  • LarryA||

    "Where everybody knows your name."


  • BDB||

    West Virginia has some really weird liquor laws too. They have the "club" thing, but the "fee" is $1 for a lifetime or something like that at every bar.

    Also, beer is still technically illegal to drink at bars in WV but they get around it by state law stating that beer isn't an alcoholic drink!

  • Mad Max||

    'state law stating that beer isn't an alcoholic drink!'

    That's a load off my mind.

  • Billy!||

    Cue Mr. Travis Tritt.

    "(I'm A Member of A) Country Club"

  • ||

    Can I cite WV law at my job here in NY?

  • Seitz||

    I second vanya's question. I was just in Park City over the weekend (at our CEO's $4k per night ski-in ski-out house, which we got for free, but I'm not bragging or anything). We went to a couple bars in town that didn't make us do anything except order and pay. No different than any other bar I've ever been in.

    We split the tab, and I haven't been given my share of the bill yet, so I don't know how expensive the beers were, but we were practically robbed at the state liquor store. A case of Sierra Nevada, which I can get at Costco in Chicago for about $22 went for $46 in Park City. That was a little ridiculous.

  • robc||

    A case of Sierra Nevada, which I can get at Costco in Chicago for about $22 went for $46 in Park City.

    Transportation costs. Because Chicago is much closer to Chico than Park City is.

  • cuernimus||

    I wonder what Mormon rum runners and their associated mobsters would be like? "With your purchase of a bottle of bathtub sacramental wine you will receive a copy of The Book of Mormon free from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

    Hmmm. Their nicknames would also be great. Joseph "The Polygamist" Smith or Brigham "Volunteers in a Youth Group" Young.

  • Taktix®||

    Second that, Epi,

    Good thing Utah has absolutely nothing I would ever need to visit to see or acquire. (Well, arguably skiing, but Wyoming should adequately fill that need).

  • Abdul||

    Why should you always take two Mormons on a fishing trip?

    Because if you bring only one, he'll drink all your beer.

  • Thin White Duke||

    Way back in the early 70's, when I was a rat faced kid in Charleston SC, my mom worked as a barmaid. If anyone wanted the hard stuff, she'd get on the phone and call me at home in the trailer court to engage in a verbal pantomime of sorts.

    "Hi mr O'Connor, this is Karen. At the Club? Mr...(aside: "what's your name?")...Mr. Anderson here would like a drink out of your bottle, is that okay with you?"

    Sometimes 20 calls a night.

    The bar owner boss paid for the phone, so it was all good.

  • stuartl||

    Good thing Utah has absolutely nothing I would ever need to visit to see or acquire.

    Taktix, Bryce and Zion are two of the most spectacular places in the country. Except for the no stir rule, we had no problem getting drinks in the restaurants.

  • Stay Invisible||

    I remember while staying at Sundance, if a I recall correctly, getting a "member card" just for being a guest. Don't remember using it much though - lots of beautiful scenery to enjoy trekking about the great outdoors.

  • James||

    Welcome to the state of Utah (born and raised here). The liquor laws here must be purely for comic relief to the state legislators. I don't know of a bar here that doesn't cheat a little on this or that. It all comes down to who is serving. Depending on the county, beer may or may not be sold on Sundays either. I live in Logan, UT and its sale is prohibited on Sunday. When I worked at a convenient store I routinely sold it on Sundays.

    Taktix® - Not that I'm biased or anything but the powder found on the slopes of the Wasatch is infinitely better than that in Wyoming. The Great Salt Lake has a miraculous effect on the snow here.

  • ||

    Don't remember using it much though - lots of beautiful scenery to enjoy trekking about the great outdoors.

    I've rarely seen scenery that wasn't improved by a libation.


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