I have returned from the great state of Utah and I can honestly say that I don't ever need to go there again. Actually, that isn't fair. I only saw Salt Lake City. I'm sure the rest of the state is lovely, but Salt Lake City? Not so much.
If someone were to ask me to describe Salt Lake in one word, that word would be "dry." My lips are so chapped I can barely smile for fear of them cracking open like roasted peanut. When I got off the plane in Chicago, I felt like a sponge that had been thrown in a bucket of cool water. My skin suddenly breathed this sigh of relief and began drinking in the moisture like a hound dog on a hot August day.
I can say a couple of nice things about Salt Lake. The people, when you saw them, were really nice. Everyone was pleasant and helpful. And the town was very user/family friendly. Every bathroom had a changing station for diapers, the cross walks all had these chirping sounds that went off when it was safe to cross, and a different sound when it wasn't. They even had these friendly little reminders at the busy intersections so that you wouldn't forget to look both ways before crossing.
But the longer you stay in Salt Lake, the more childlike you feel. It's as if the state of Utah doesn't believe you capable of doing the simplest things without assistance. Want to cross a street? Okay, only go when the walk light is on, the pole is chirping and be sure to look both ways before you do. They even have the little countdown lights that come on to let you know when the light is going to change, just in case you decide to lolly-gag in the middle of the intersection.
This parental oversight is particularly apparent for those of us who wish to have the occasional cocktail.
If you go to restaurant in Utah, you can only get a cocktail with exactly one ounce of booze in it. Every bottle behind the bar uses a metered pourer so as not to break the law. You ever had a one ounce martini? It isn't even enough to cover the olives.
It is also against the law to have more than one cocktail in front of you at one time. I was out to dinner with some folks at one of those Brazilian grill places and one of the women I was with didn't particularly like the fruity cocktail she had ordered. One of the men at the table said he'd give it a try and took the drink and put it next to the one he already had. The waiter actually came over and told him he had to move it because he was in violation of state law. Being from New Orleans, he picked up his Makers Mark on the rocks, downed it in one gulp and asked the waiter if that was better.
Some how, I don't think that was what Utah's lawmakers had in mind when they passed that little ditty, but what the hell. It'll teach them to get between a guy from Louisiana and his cocktail.
Now, all of this changes if you are a member of a social club. Basically, if you want to drink in a bar, you have to be a member. Case in point, I went to a bar called Port o' Call a couple of blocks from my hotel to meet with a couple of colleagues. As I walked to the door, the bouncer asked me if I was a member. I said no and then asked how one becomes a member. He said, "Four bucks and your I.D. please."
I handed over the cash and my drivers license and he took them inside and gave them to a young woman sitting inside the door behind a cash register. He said to me, "Wait here, you have to sign something."
The woman took my ID and started entering the information into a database. She took my four bucks, put them in the register and then handed me a receipt that required my signature so that I could become a member. She said, "Sign this and you can go in and get a drink."
"So membership has its privileges," I say back.
And she replies, "Yeah, welcome to the Sinners Club honey."
Advise for those travelling to Salt Lake City
If a waitress asks if you want a side car with your cocktail, say "yes." Because you can only have a one ounce drink, you can have the other ounce or so in a separate glass called a side car. (This was only in the membership clubs so I don't think you can do this in the resturants.) It's the only way to get a real drink.