Ice Cream, Diet Coke and Smirnoff Ice

Only in Utah
Original photo found at

I’ve lived in Utah for 20 years now. Previous to that, I lived in California, specifically Garden Grove. In that state, liquor has always been sold at the local grocery stores, corner markets and superstores. Some of those superstores sell only alcohol. Others have multiple aisles with every known liquor brand you can think of.

Welcome To Utah
inside a Utah State Store
“What you say, LeVar… is this considered a main alcohol or a flavoring?”

Contrast that with Utah, where any distilled spirits (rum, vodka, gin, etc) are sold at State-owned and operated outlets. These outlets are only open 6 days a week, closed on every Sunday, holiday, election day and any other day they can muster up an excuse to shut their doors. Selections and brands that are stocked are at the discretion of a sole person that works at the Utah DABC. There may be others that offer up suggestions, but a single person is employed to order hard liquor for the entire state.

The laws are drawn up by mostly teetotalers non-drinkers that sit on a board, then sent to the elected teetotalers Utah Legislature where most attend the dominant religion (Mormon), which discourages alcohol consumption (amongst other “bad for you” products). So just to sum that up, the laws discourage alcohol consumption because those that don’t drink don’t want others to drink. Got it? Ok… let’s move on.

Recent Changes

Up until the first of May, bars, clubs and taverns (also known as private clubs) that serve hard alcohol could only serve a metered 1oz of the main alcohol in mixed drinks. So if you went to the bar and ordered a gin and tonic in a 6oz glass, you got 1oz of gin, ice filled to the top and the rest tonic water. On May 1st, bars are now allowed to serve 1.5oz (metered) of the main alcohol in each mixed drink.

This makes a common mixed drink a bit stronger, but bars can choose to continue to pour 1oz in each drink, which is another way of saying “we didn’t raise the prices of the drinks we serve.” The 1.5oz is just the main alcohol. Other spirits can be added via free pour (straight from the bottle with no meter attached) so long as they are labeled as “FLAVORING”. Such types deemed as flavoring are: schnapps, triple sec, flavored rums, vodkas and gins and amaretto, just to name a few.

What about grocery stores?

Going to a bar or the state store for your booze is not your only option to imbibe. You can get beer and wine coolers at the local Albertson’s, Smith’s and 7-Eleven. But there’s a catch. All beer and flavored beer (as they like to call wine coolers) cannot contain more than 3.2% alcohol, per volume. What this means is that you must purchase and consume a lot more alcohol to get that buzz, increasing the revenue for the state (yes, the state moderates all alcohol sold anywhere) and the size of your waistline (a 30 pack of Bud Light can be filling).

But, what the state giveth [in the form another another 1/2 oz of booze in your mixed drink], the state taketh away. Starting October 1st, it will be illegal for grocery stores to sell any 3.2% alcohol that is deemed an “Alcopop” [yes, that’s an actual term], or wine cooler/flavored beer, due to the fact that less than 1% of underage kids tried to purchase these at grocery and corner stores. Also, “The Church” and various elected officials have called Alcopops “…a gateway drug.” Never fear, alcopop lovers. The state store will be stocking the higher alcoholic content versions (read: a lot more than the 3.2% sold now) of Bacardi Silver, Smirnoff Ice and Tilt for purchase and consumption.

The End Result

With an effort to further prevent drinking, the state of Utah have passed laws and legislation that have:

  • increased the amount of alcohol that you can have in a mixed drink

  • increased the amount of alcohol in a wine cooler/flavored beer/alcopop you will be able to soon purchase at the State Store [albeit, not as convenient as visiting your local supermarket]

UPDATE: Recovery Connection is for those who are struggling with addiction.

So there you have it. Today’s lesson on alcohol in the state of Utah. I hope you enjoyed our discussion today.

NOTE: To those reading that are Utah residents that do not consume alcohol and belong to the dominant religion, do not worry. All flavors of ice cream and Diet Coke are not affected by the new laws and are still available for purchase at your local grocery stores.

So how liberal or archaic are the alcohol laws in your locale? Worse? Better? The same? Comment away.


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