Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The DABC Magic 8 Ball

[Liquor Laws] The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has put out a newsletter to explain new liquor laws that went into effect this week. Unfortunately, divining exactly what the Utah Legislature had in mind when it passed its latest version of liquor “reform” is like reading tarot cards.

As reformulated by the 2008 Legislature, Utah law now says bars have an option of changing their meters to pour “up to” 1.5-ounce drinks, instead of the standard 1-ounce pour of the old law. But the new liquor law also banned sidecars and reduced the total amount of alcohol in a drink by one-fourth an ounce, creating all sorts of new math for bartenders.

The Question and Answer guide to the law for bar owners written by the DABC suggests not even state liquor regulators can figure out the new rules. Here's Question No. 11:
  • Q. I am a private club and intend to serve 1.5 ounce primary alcohol. If a member orders a rum and coke, can I set down another rum and coke if he has consumed at least ¼ of his initial drink?
  • A. Probably, as long as the drinks are not put down together. This is a judgment call. Besides, as a seller/server of alcohol, why would you want to do that? Wouldn’t you rather wait until the patron has finished the drink before serving another?
Not clear enough for you? Try Question No. 3, which takes the opposite approach to the above long winded response. Here, a similar two-drinks-one-customer query is simplified to a Zen riddle.
  • Q. As a private club we are discussing serving a 1.25 ounce primary pour. Can we then have 2 of the same drinks in front of a customer?
  • A. Yes, as long as one (or both) is not a shot of the same liquor.
Chant the answer long enough and eventually the solution will become clear to you.
Below are some of the other questions the DABC says it has received from club owners about the new liquor law, and the liquor enforcement agency’s answers. Study up. Here’s hoping you guess the right answer next time an undercover booze cop stops by asking for two rum and cokes.

Q. As a private club we intend to stay with a 1-ounce pour. If a member wants 1.5 ounces, can I pour 1 ounce primary pour then ½ ounce of the same liquor from flavoring?

A. No.

Q. My ring system can pour different sizes. Can I pour 1.5 ounces, 1 ounce and ½ ounce of flavoring from the same bottle?

A. Yes, if the dispensing system can account for each primary portion (regardless of the size) dispensed from the same bottle.

Q. As a private club, can we make it our policy to have the first drink 1.5 ounces then the 2nd and 3rd only 1 ounce, and ¾ ounce on each drink after that? Am I required to charge different prices?

A. Yes, as long as the customer is aware of the portion and each is priced accordingly.

Q. Our liquor system will pour different amounts at the push of a button. Do I have to indicate what quantity is being poured?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I advertise on a sign within my club that I pour 1.5 ounce drinks?

A. Yes.

Q. What pour amount will DABC check when they test my gun or ring system?

A. Whatever size the licensee says the system is set to pour.

Q. How will Liquor law Enforcement know how much liquor I put in a drink or in front of a customer?

A. The same way they do now.

Q. I am a private club. Can I serve 1.5-ounce drinks on Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. if I do not advertise it as “happy hour” and charge more than my regular 1-ounce pour?

A. No. A drink may not be sold at a special price for a portion of the business day.

(Ted McDonough)


  1. "That Government is best which governs least."
    -- Thomas Paine

  2. I went to school and roomed with Sam Granato, he was always cool. I have to believe this mess is not in his control.

  3. In question 11, is that a judgement call for the bar owner to make, or a judgement call for the law to make?

    I think Piper Down's owner was on to something with his conspiracy theory. http://drinkingliberallyslc.org/2008/02/16/piper-downs-owner-on-proposed-liquor-law-changes/


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