In a state where more than half the population identifies with a religion forbidding alcohol consumption, you expect to find strict liquor laws. Utah restaurant and bar owners have long navigated a complex set of laws governing their abilities to serve alcohol to patrons. But the laws are changing in Utah. Once proprietors have time to drop their barriers shielding the mixing of alcoholic drinks from view, bars and restaurants in Utah will resemble those establishments elsewhere in the US. A good number of owners whipped out their sledgehammers as fast they could. So what exactly happened with Utah’s liquor laws? The fall of the Zion curtain Earlier this year, Utah’s “Zion curtain” law bit the dust. This law forced bar and restaurant owners to hide drink mixing activities behind a physical barrier. Many restaurants mixed their drinks in the kitchen, and many bars erected partitions blocking bartenders from their patrons a mere foot or two away from them on the other side of the bar. Staring at a frosted glass wall can really take away from a bar’s ambiance. Hence, the quickly wielded sledgehammers. So with the repeal of the Zion curtain law through House Bill 442, Utah bartenders can practice mixology with panache and flair. Their customers can see them, and they can see their customers. Even though the requirement for a Zion curtain goes away, a restaurant’s bar must be separated from the dining room in some way. Restaurants with a state liquor license now have a few options. They can of leave the curtain in place, have a 10-foot buffer where minors are not permitted, or build a low wall or railing that distinguishes the dining room from the liquor- dispensing area. A mixed bag on mixology HB 442 contained many changes to Utah’s liquor laws with varying effective dates. Even though bar and restaurant owners rejoiced at the fall of the Zion curtain, the markup on liquor purchased in Utah went up two percentage points. The added revenue will fund prevention and training programs for eighth and tenth graders and employee-related training programs. In a helpful move for government administrators and liquor license seekers, Utah streamlined their types of liquor licenses into one. Dining club and social club designations are no more. HB 442 also cut in half the distance between alcohol serving establishments and churches, schools and parks. The distance was reduced from 600 feet to 300 feet. With this overall easing of liquor laws combined with some tightening, there’s no clear indication on how liquor laws will change over the long haul. Positive effect on businesses Utah business owners are already taking action in response to the legal changes. Even though the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control must inspect restaurants before their Zion curtains can come down, government workers picked up their pace to help restaurateurs. NPR featured Salt Lake City restaurant owner Joel LaSalle smashing his Zion curtain. Shards of frosted glass on the concrete signaled no more frosted glass panes atop LaSalle’s bar in Current Fish & Oyster. The relaxed laws have spurred quick growth in Salt Lake City’s beer brewing and spirits distilling businesses. Alcoholic beverage makers including Uinta Brewing, RoHa Brewing Project, Mountain West Cider, Dented Brick Distillery, and New World Distillery are ready for locals and vacationers alike. Though Utah drinking laws are still complicated, the relaxation of the Zion curtain law should have a positive effect on business owners making money from alcohol sales.