Tourist-friendly Utah drinking establishments on the rise

Utah is not famous for its bar scene. Even non-Mormons have been subjected to half-alcohol beers and strict laws for decades — but one by one, the Utah’s prohibition-like barriers are coming down.

Though the Mormon population in Utah is certainly influential, the majority of Utah’s residents are not Mormon, which is part of the reason the laws were changed under Governor Jon Huntsman (who resigned in August of 2009 to become Ambassador to China). Prior to that, drinkers had to be members of a “private club” to imbibe. According to NewsAhead, the Zion Curtain law (“the partition that keeps restaurant servers from passing a drink across the bar”) was scrapped last year, as well as a ban which required liquor stores to be closed on election days (makes sense for the voting, but not so much for the celebrating). Abusing these new freedoms will be costly; “From 1 Jul 2010, the liability limit for bars that serve drinks to intoxicated patrons involved in accidents will increase to as much as US $2 million — the highest in the nation.”

Now that less-regulated booze has been added to the the remarkable ski slopes and other tourism draws, the hospitality industry is watching their business pick up. In the ABC video above, you can see a glimpse of one brewery reveling in the new age, Squatter’s Pub Brewery in Salt Lake City, as well as the state’s first legal distillery since the 1870s, High West in Park City.

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[via ABC]