日期:2011-12-05 09:24


Drinking rules

Behind the Zion curtain

The drinks flow more freely, except in Utah

ALMOST 80 years after the repeal of Prohibition, the sale of wine and spirits remains partly or wholly in government hands in a third of America’s states. But in these tough times economic considerations are starting to outweigh moral concerns. On November 8th Washington’s voters approved plans to privatise the state’s 328 liquor outlets and open the business to warehouse stores and supermarkets. Budget planners think the change could bring in an extra $80m a year from licence fees. The victory for the Yes campaign—secured with $22.5m from Costco, a warehouse-store chain, the record for a donation to a Washington ballot initiative—reduces the number of controlled states to 17, following similar moves by West Virginia and Iowa years ago. Other states considering opening the spigots include North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Opponents will not give up without a fight. They wield studies that point to increases in consumption and car accidents after laws are loosened. But nowhere is liberalisation resisted more staunchly than in Mormon-dominated Utah, where even strong beer has to be sold through publicly owned stores. Its restrictive distribution system is under the spotlight thanks to an ongoing bid-rigging scandal at the state-run alcohol monopoly. But the forces arrayed against reform are strong, including the speaker of the state Senate and anti-drink-driving pressure groups. The odds of privatisation are a small fraction of those of seeing a Mormon in the White House, sighs one lawmaker.

Worse, Utah’s famously tough and complicated rules on the way drinks are stored and served in bars and restaurants have been growing more restrictive, not less so. The shackles had loosened a bit during the governorship of Jon Huntsman, whose administration worried that jokes about being slower than Salt Lake City on a Saturday night were a turn-off to party-minded skiers (Utah has some of the best slopes in North America). Bars no longer had to set themselves up as private clubs that charged would-be drinkers membership fees, for instance. After Mr Huntsman left to become Barack Obama’s ambassador to China, however, the reactionaries regained the initiative.

Under one new law, restaurants opened after January 2010, even those that serve nothing more potent than beer, have to erect a barrier along the length of the bar that shields under-age punters from the sight of drinks being stored or poured. These walls, often made of frosted glass, are known locally as Zion curtains. These establishments’ beer sales cannot exceed 30% of their total revenue. The same law bans all-day discounts on drinks, introduced by many bars in recent years to get around the ban on happy hours. Doubles have long been illegal. Licensed restaurants must use ID scanners on customers who look younger than 35.

Bars and restaurants are regularly tripped up by a strict quota system for new licences, which is based on Utah’s population growth. A number of places that had been awarded permits for all types of alcohol had them taken away in October because the increase in headcount was below projections. These can now serve only beer that is 3.2% or less alcohol. To cap it all, pubs and eateries have to pay the same 80-90% markup for their booze as consumers do in the state-run stores. With so many hoops to jump through and extra costs to absorb, it is no wonder that some chains are slowing their expansion in the state or choosing to focus elsewhere. As the souvenir shot glasses say: Eat, drink and be merry—tomorrow you may be in Utah.
酒吧和饭店经常被严格的配额制度所限制,随着犹他州人口数量的不断增长他们不得不重新申请领的经销许可证。十月份将有很多地方的酒类经营许可证将会被收回,因为人口增长量低于许可证的颁发量。这些地方(被取消许可证)后现在只能出售度数不高于3.2的酒(那里销售的啤酒只占其他地区的3.2%),白酒甚至更低。最糟的是,这些酒吧和餐厅必须和在国营商店里购买酒类的消费者一样支付比原价高80%到90%的金额(为了达到销售的上限,这些酒吧餐馆不得不像在国营商店里购买酒类的消费者们那样拿出涨价额的80%到90%用于酒馆的运营)。有这么多的火圈要钻,有这么多的额外支出需要去支付,难怪酒类运营商纷纷放慢了他们在犹他州扩展的步伐转而投资其他地区。就像是一个纪念杯子上镌刻的文字一样尽情吃喝, 开怀畅饮吧——明天到了犹他州,就没机会了

privatise v. 私有化
loosen v. 松动
shackles n.束缚
illegal adj.违法的
headcount n.点名人数, 所有在场的人数

  • populationn. 人口 ,(全体)居民,人数
  • monopolyn. 垄断,专利,独占,控制
  • budgetn. 预算 vt. 编预算,为 ... 做预算 vi.
  • donationn. 捐赠物,捐款,捐赠
  • illegaladj. 不合法的,非法的 n. 非法移民
  • distributionn. 分发,分配,散布,分布
  • fractionn. 分数,小部分,破片
  • loosenvt. 放松,松开,解除(便秘等),放宽 vi. 变松,
  • campaignn. 运动,活动,战役,竞选运动 v. 从事运动,参加竞
  • quotan. 配额,限额,最低票数