Ice Wine for the Olympics
Nothing complements the winter games like this labor-intensive dessert wine
"Bartender, make it a double" isn't something you'll often hear in the pubs and restaurants of Utah. In fact, you're more likely to hear, "Bartender, can I please have an application?"
As Mormons constitute the majority of Utah's population, the Church of Latter-Day Saints' prohibition on alcohol, coffee, tea and other stimulants is in wide evidence in the state's rather curious set of liquor laws. So if you find yourself in Salt Lake City in the weeks to come, fancying a drink after a long day of Olympic spectating, you'd better know exactly what regulations you'll be slaloming through.
First of all, there's really no such thing as a bar in Utah. Instead, you can do your drinking at a "private club." But while that term might evoke certain swanky associations, what it really means is that you have to apply for membership at the ostensibly non-profit club (a two-week "visitor's membership" usually runs around $5) or have an established member sponsor you before the pour of your first drink.
And don't count on that pour being particularly generous -- all liquor has to be dispensed through a 1-ounce cell, and don't even think about asking for a double. Technically, you're also supposed to leave the bar with your sponsor, but chances are the bartender will be too busy processing membership applications to pay too much attention.
Feel like throwing up your hands in frustration and just picking up a six-pack? Hope you like your beer watery, as the maximum alcohol content for beer sold in grocery stores, convenience stores and the like is a paltry 3.2 percent. If you require a more robust ale (or, in Utah's vernacular, "heavy beer") you have no choice but to head to a state liquor store.
Matters are simpler at restaurants, where any customer who's dining can order beer, wine or liquor. And thanks to a recent court order, your waiter can be so bold as to actually present you with the wine list and ask if you'd like a cocktail. (Previously, waiters could suggest a "beverage" and deliver the wine list only upon request.) Undeterred, 21 Utah restaurants have assembled wine lists worthy of Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence. So while a good drink may be hard to find in Utah, rest assured that it's no Olympian task.
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