Utah Drinking Laws: Can I Get a Legal Drink in Park City?

Posted by Joel Rosenfield on Thursday, December 31st, 2015 at 1:49pm.


Although our laws have some quirks, you definitely can walk right into a bar and say, "I'd like a Maker's Mark on the rocks, please" and that's what you'll get. Glass of wine with dinner? No problem. Beer with lunch on the slopes? Sure thing. If you want a particular mixed drink, my suggestion is to just ask your bartender or server what they can do for you.  They know what can and can't be done under the law.  It can get complicated; I'll try to summarize what you need to know and skim over the rest. If you want to know more, don't hestitate to reach out to us in comments, email, or give us a call!

Flight of sake at Shabu on Main Street

This is one of the most common questions we get about visiting and living in Park City. We understand the confusion -- Utah has tried many different ideas over the decades to manage alcohol comsumption. If you visited Park City before July 2009, you may have experienced private clubs memberships, mini-bottles, or even BYOB where the bar would sell you a "setup" of mixers depending on what year you visited. The good news is that now, although there are quirks, your experience in buying alcoholic beverages in a restaurant, bar, or liquor store isn't so different from most of the rest of the country.

In restaurants, your experience will be more similar to what you are accustomed to at home. Remember that you can buy your own bottle of wine at a liquor store and bring it to a restaurant and pay a corkage fee. If you're bringing your own wine to save money, be sure to ask ahead of time what the corkage fee is; some restaurants charge a high amount so that it's not worth the effort. All restaurants are different. If you're not sure, then go ahead and bring your bottle(s), but don't have them opened until you ask about corkage fees.

Bartenders cannot offer you a "good" (strong) drink -- all shots are electronically measured. As a result, many locations have put their energy instead into crafting "artisan" cocktails that are often very tasty -- I like the mint julep at High West. One quick note -- they can pour you a drink that contains 2 different liquors, but they can't pour you a double.  There's more -- I promised you that the laws are quirky -- but that's the biggest point. That means that a martini is a poor choice. They'll be happy to pour you one, but it will be tiny since it will have only one shot of gin or vodka.

To buy alcohol to take with you, the best place to go is a (state-run) liquor store. That is where you go to buy liquor, wine, or "higher-alcohol" beers. Note that all stores are CLOSED Sundays and holidays; plan accordingly. Here are the Park City locations:
- Old Town, a small store in the first floor of the China Bridge parking structure on Swede Alley, a block left of Main street if you're facing uphill.
- Snow Creek plaza, behind the Top Spot convenience store on Park Ave., across the parking lot from Park City Market. This is the biggest one with the greatest selection. By the way, Park City Market is a full-scale supermarket in case you weren't aware; I wasn't when I first moved here.
- Kimball Junction, in the plaza off Ute Blvd. Turn right at the end of the ramp off the freeway and then take your first left, it's behind the Wendy's.
- In addition, there's a small "package agency" in the Westgate in Canyons Village.  There are also a couple specialty package agencies such as the one at High West that allows them to sell their own liquors in their gift shop.

Supermarkets sell "lower-alcohol" beer, including many of your favorites like PBR and also Utah beers. The good thing about Utah beers is that they are accustomed to brewing beers suited to Utah's laws. No wine or liquor is sold at supermarkets, nor at Costco or Trader Joe's in Salt Lake City.  

Finally, a word of caution about drinking here at altitude. My advice is to drink a glass of water with every drink, and take it easy your first night to see how your body adapts. Nothing kills a ski vacation like altitude sickness. It is my experience that altitude sickness here at 7,000 ft. is rare, but the most common reason is dehydration caused by alcohol.  Same goes for hot tubs.


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