Utah Liquor Laws Visitor Guide — Yes, You Can!
In preparation for your next visit to Utah, here’s what you need to know before you belly up to the bar or seek out a bottle of your favorite spirit.
At one time, strict laws on alcohol made enjoying an adult beverage in Utah a little more challenging. Since the 2002 Winter Olympics (and especially during the last decade), notable changes to these regulations have made it much easier for visitors to Utah to drink up — even if misconceptions still abound. In preparation for your next visit to Utah, here’s what you need to know before you belly up to the bar or seek out a bottle of your favorite spirit.
Before heading out, please note that it is illegal to bring any alcohol into Utah with you. With the more relaxed laws around alcohol, however, there isn’t a need. (See exceptions and other Utah liquor law frequently asked questions for more detail.)
The Scoop on Liquor
If you enjoy cocktails and spirits, you’ll notice Utah pours its shots through a contraption called The Berg, which is required by state law. The Berg helps bartenders pour precise 1.5-ounce shots of “primary liquor” in a mixed drink (of up to 2.5 ounces total), which means your cocktails might not hit as hard as they do in other states. But despite that, you’ll find plenty of delicious, expertly crafted cocktails in Utah. You can visit several new and established local distillers, which make just about anything you could want. Just one example is the nationally distributed High West Whiskeys (located in Park City), which will take you back to the Old West with each sip. (Discover more distilleries in Utah Spirits Tour or on visitutah.com’s distilleries page.)
What’s Up with the Beer?
Yes, you can buy beer in Utah that’s over 3.2% alcohol by volume (ABV). In fact, starting in November 2019, a new bill replaced the 86-year-old law stating that 3.2% beer was the alcohol limit for brewing. It allows beers with 4% alcohol by weight or 5% ABV to be sold in grocery stores, convenience stores and on draft at bars and restaurants. You can also get higher ABV brews at state liquor stores. (Read: Welcome to the 5%: New Liquor Laws Support Utah's Vibrant Craft Brew Scene.)
Restaurants and Bars
Residents and longtime visitors to Utah will remember the days of the “private club,” when Utah bars were required to charge a cover or membership fee. Currently, establishments are classified as either restaurants, bars or clubs, and each has a different set of rules regarding alcohol.
For bars and clubs, anyone 21 years or older with a valid ID is free to walk in and have a drink, but customers under 21 are not allowed in the bar or lounge areas. Last call for alcohol is generally 1 am, and bars must close by 2 am.
At restaurants, alcoholic drinks can only be served with food, but at breweries or any beer-only establishments, food is not required to order a beer.
Restaurants and bars can serve draft beer up to 5% and higher ABV beers from the can or bottle.
You can only buy beer and spirits one drink at a time, so that means no pitchers of beer or your favorite adult beverage. You can purchase wine by the glass or the bottle.
What You Can Buy and Where
Whether you are looking for a bottle of vino, a six-pack or a bottle of hard alcohol, there are rules around what you can buy where:
Grocery stores and convenience stores: You can buy beer that is 5% ABV at most grocery stores and convenience stores every day of the week. In addition to these locations, package stores across the state (there are more than 100 of them) sell a selection of beer, wine and spirits. There are also three specialty wine stores in downtown Salt Lake City that sell limited-production wine, beer and liquor with a diverse and constantly changing selection.
Utah state liquor stores: Higher ABV beer, wine and liquor are available at Utah’s 41 state liquor stores, which are generally open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to anywhere between 5 pm and 10 pm, depending on the location. Please note that these stores are closed on Sundays.
Breweries, wineries and distilleries: As noted above, these establishments can sell any of their products every day of the week, including Sundays. You can buy to-go bottles as well, but containers must remain closed on the premises.
Behind the Wheel
Utah has the strictest DUI limit in the country at 0.05%, and this includes not only driving cars but riding bikes as well. It doesn’t take much to reach that level of blood concentration so instead, consider walking or taking advantage of public transit or companies like Uber and Lyft where it’s available. If you plan on heading out and grabbing a few drinks, just be sure to leave the car (and bike) behind.
Yes, You Can Get a Drink in Rural Utah, Too
Regardless of whether or not you are in the city, you can find establishments to grab alcohol in the more rural areas of Utah as well. While it may not be as convenient to find alcohol in the farther reaches, it is available, and the same laws that apply in SLC apply there as well. These laws help regulate price, which means your favorite bottle will cost the same regardless of the liquor store — no additional markup beyond statute at remote retail outposts or resort towns. Restaurants and bars, of course, can set their own price for drinks.
Each of Utah’s five national parks has a liquor store nearby, and bars and restaurants are easy to find, especially in Springdale near Zion or Moab near Arches and Canyonlands. Rules around alcohol consumption vary from park to park, so depending on which park you are visiting, you should familiarize yourself with them.
Whether you’re in Salt Lake City or Zion National Park, finding a place to conveniently grab a drink has become much easier. There’s no need to worry about the lack of adult beverages infringing on your ski vacation or relaxation after a long day at the tradeshow. So now that you know much of what you need to know about getting a drink in Utah, forget about those old rules and raise a glass or two on your next visit.
Let's Talk Utah: Debunking Utah Liquor Laws
Utah may have a reputation for having some strange liquor laws, but contrary to what you might think, the Beehive State isn't that different from most of the U.S. In this episode of Let’s Talk Utah, Darby Doyle debunks some myths around Utah’s liquor laws and shows visitors that there are plenty of ways to enjoy a tasty adult beverage.
Painted Pony Restaurant
Located in Ancestor Square in the heart of St. George, Utah, the Painted Pony, affectionately known as “The Pony,” gets rave reviews by all, as evidenced by its 4.5-star Trip Advisor rating.
Eating Up Mount Timpanogos
Learn about the Utah farms near Mt. Timpanogos that produce luscious lettuce and artisan cheese. Make your own plans to “eat up” Mt. Timpanogos!
Heber Valley is a basecamp for adventure with none of the crowds! With restaurants, bakeries, yurt dining and more there is never a shortage of places to eat.
Hell's Backbone Grill
Boulder, Utah sits at the edge of wilderness, but Hell's Backbone Grill culinary ethics and farm-to-table cuisine puts most city dining to shame.
5 Road Trip-Worthy Restaurants in Kanab, Utah
Hungry for a culinary renaissance? Or a small-town staple? Whatever you’re craving, fuel your outdoor adventures at these favorite Kanab restaurants.
Kiva Koffeehouse is a welcome stop for fresh food and espresso tucked on a hillside down a dirt driveway near milepost 73 on the scenic byway.
Mesa Farm Market
Best local shops and healthy eats near Moab and Capitol Reef. Try the goat cheese!
Moab Farmers' Market
Thursday evenings & Saturday mornings in summer, discover a food and community market that shares the harvest of the desert.
Navajo: Fry Bread, Tacos, Pizza
Despite its troubling origins, Navajo fry bread is an inspired food of the nation’s people, and it can be found in many forms with various names around the southwest.
Discover the Breweries of the Wasatch Front
Over the past two decades, Salt Lake’s breweries have grown into a culture all their own. Here’s what you need to start planning a pub crawl with this collection of Salt Lake’s most popular breweries.
Utah’s Women Make History
Walk in the footsteps of Utah’s earliest women’s suffrage leaders at sites throughout downtown Salt Lake City. Along the way, view public art installations commemorating voting rights and stop at trail-adjacent local women-owned businesses.
Discovering Box Elder & Bear River Valley
A scenic and compelling journey through Northern Utah’s Bear River Valley
Artisan Cheese in Red Rock Country
Two decades ago, Randy Ramsley traded his Dockers-and-tie city job for a 50 acre plot of land that he called a “Garden of Weedin” and the dream of establishing a sustainable farmstead. Now travelers from all over the globe know the small market and counter-service restaurant at Mesa Farm as a refreshing “must-do” respite seemingly plunked in the middle of nowhere on Highway 24 east of Capitol Reef National Park.
Short List: Local Salt Lake City Nightlife Picks
Make the most of winter's shortened daylight by extending your Utah ski trip into the night. Sure, some resorts offer incredible night skiing — so, okay, after that — but then the night really gets going in downtown Ski City.
Curry, Fine Wine, Dining at 11,000'
Fred Barbier is Director of Resort Dining at Snowbird Resort restaurants. Find out what goes on in the kitchen and why you need to eat a meal here.
Ray’s is the way to hamburger bliss after a weekend of concurring and communing with Mother Nature at her most brazen — namely, Moab and the surrounding Southern Utah recreational areas.
Rediscovering A. Fisher Brewing Company
One brewery where you can find both a rich history and a fresh perspective is the newly reopened A. Fisher Brewing Company (also referred to simply as Fisher Brewing). After more than fifty years this Utah classic is back to stay, providing a wide variety brews to enjoy.
Mountain Lifestyle Calling
Make your chocolate fantasy into reality by including on your itinerary a visit to the Ritual Chocolate Factory, one of Utah’s premier chocolate makers.
7 Utah Artisan Cheeses to Try Now
Taste delicious hand-crafted Beehive Cheese from Utah dairies at farmers markets, restaurants and specialty shops. Visit Utah and find your favorite artisanal cheese.
Craft Chocolate Capital of America: Utah's Culture of Cacao
The craft chocolate scene in Utah is a wonder within itself. Join one of Matt Caputo’s chocolate classes to increase your appreciation and chocolate knowledge.
St. George Scene: Cliffside and The Bear Paw
Explore the best restaurants in St. George including Cliffside and The Bear Paw.
Where to taste, tour and take home Utah's world-renowned chocolate
The Utah chocolate world is expanding deliciously. Visit some of the world's premier chocolate stores and producers for true moments of chocolate bliss.
Thanks to it’s location eight miles from Capitol Reef National Park, this remote enclave is a great place to stop for some coffee, ice cream or dinner on your way in or out of the park.
Tropic, Utah: Bryce Canyon Coffee Company and The Stone Hearth Grille
Get an introduction to the best-known restaurants in Tropic, Utah — The Stone Hearth Grille and Bryce Canyon Coffee Company. Prepare your appetite!
Urban and RYE: An Intimate Mixture of Music and Local Eats
Come in and experience the unique fare from the RYE Diner, one of the best restaurants in Salt Lake City. Then enjoy the hot beats at the Urban Lounge.