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 Looser alcohol laws mean drinks can be mixed in plain sight.

Elisabeth Sherman
July 06, 2017

If you walk into a restaurant in Utah you’re likely to see a strange set up: Behind the bar, there’s a physical barrier – perhaps a frosted glass wall – that blocks patrons from the bartenders who are making their drinks.

The barriers are so-called “Zion curtains,” and they’re there to make sure drinkers can’t see the alcohol they’re about to drink being poured. Supposedly, the barricades make sure innocent children aren’t exposed to drinking-culture while at dinner with their families.

But as of last Friday, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control struck down the restrictive rule at 26 restaurants, according to a new report from the Salt Lake City Tribune. That means that next time you’re out to dinner at Utah, your bartender probably won’t have to hide from you while mixing your drink.

Restaurants like Stoneground Kitchen, Current Fish and Oyster, and Rye Diner and Drinks in Salt Lake City celebrated the new law by tearing down their Zion curtains. 33 more restaurants are waiting to have their applications to remove the barrier approved by the state agency.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many restrictive laws regarding booze that Utah – a state where half the population is Mormon – has on the books. Beer can’t contain more than 3.2 percent alcohol (non-alcoholic beer contains .5 percent) for example, and restaurants are still required to make sure minors stay away from any area where alcohol is served either by creating “a 10-foot buffer from the bar where minors are not allowed; or build a half-wall or railing that creates a delineation between the dining and liquor-dispensing areas,” according to the Tribune.

The Zion Curtain rule, as you might assume, is not an antiquated law instituted during a more conservative time. It actually went into effect in 2009. But now that it’s no longer a requirement at restaurants, the state might be one step closer to adopting a more relaxed attitude about how its residents can enjoy their drinks.