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From: Ryan Wiser
To: Sen. Weiler, T.,
Subject: Zion Curtain...a different perspective
Date: 2014-02-01T14:59:19Z

Dear Senator Weiler,

Please take a moment and read the following message.  It contains information about Utah alcohol law that I have not heard in the public debate, or in media coverage on the issue. 

HB0285 will end the “Zion Curtain” rule that requires certain restaurants to store and pour alcohol from public view.  Please let me explain how current law, and its “Zion Curtain” requirement, actually increases consumption and promotes drunk-driving.  Of course this is counter to the stated objective to craft policy that discourages over-consumption and drunk driving.

Utah law limits a single alcoholic beverage to pours of 1.5 ounces of primary liquor, plus 1 ounce of lower-strength “flavoring” liquor.  It is also requires primary liquor to be poured from an approved metering device that mechanically limits pours to 1.5 ounces.

If a drink is mixed at the bar, in view of the patrons sitting at the bar and adjacent high-tables, it is easy for anyone to observe the process and note if the bartender mixed the drink properly.  One of these patrons may be a DABC officer, who could watch the bartender mix drinks and easily notice if a drink is “over-poured”, containing more liquor than is allowed by law.  He would simple observe if the dispensing bottle was tipped more than once, as every time the bottle is tipped only 1.5 ounces is dispensed.

However, behind the “Zion Curtain”, the bartender is (as required by law) hidden from view.  He/She can simply pour two (or three, or four) cycles of liquor into a drink.  Nobody in the public area would have any way of knowing the drink was over-poured.  Example: A common cocktail is a “Jack and Coke”, which is a pour of Jack Daniels whiskey, ice and several ounces of Coca-Cola.  Such a drink made with 1.5 ounces of whiskey is visually indistinguishable from one made with 3 or 4.5 ounces.  The current law has created circumstances where for a nice tip, a “regular” customer, known to the bartender, can entice a bartender to over-pour his drink.  There is no possible way an officer could detect the transaction.  I know for a fact that this is a common occurrence, created by the Zion curtain.

Furthermore, how is one to know whether the “coke” served to an 18 year old is really a “Jack and Coke”?  There falls the third objective of Utah liquor law – preventing underage drinking.

The Zion curtain law was an experiment with noble objectives, yet failed results.  I encourage you to support HB285, which acts to strengthen our common objective to discourage over-consumption and drunk driving, and underage drinking.


Ryan Wiser

Farmington, UT

(801) 390-8066