I am posting this because much of the info here is incorrect or outdated.
Utah did away with the Private Club law a little while ago so you do not have to have a membership to enter those establishments anymore. The downside of this is that in the past, you may have paid a smaller amount for the temporary membership whereas now many of the establishments make you pay a cover charge that will cost you more.
You can no longer smoke in bars & clubs in Utah.
You can get an alcoholic beverage other than beer in a bar or club in Utah. There are several establishments that do not have a liquor license and those establishments can only serve beer.
In Utah, grocery stores and convenience stores are only allowed to sell beer that is 3.2% by weight. This is the beer that people refer to as weak. In reality, the difference is in how it is labeled. Some states label by weight and others by volume. 3.2% by weight is actually 4.0% by volume. There are many states that have similar laws limiting grocery stores to selling only 3.2% ABW/4.0% ABV or lower.
You can get beer that is 3.2% ABW/4.0% ABV and higher at the state liquor stores, restaurants and bars & clubs. Restaurants do require you to order food if you are going to drink alcohol.
I have never had a hard time finding a state liquor store. This may be partly because I live here but I’m pretty sure most people have used Google before. Here is a link to state Liquor & Wine stores in Utah: http://abc.utah.gov/stores/index.html. They are closed on Sundays and election days but most are open until 10 PM Monday through Saturday.
Yes, beer is 3.2 %, and mixed drinks can only have one shot, but they cost less than out of town bars. Yes, clubs have "private memberships" so that it is legal for people to smoke in the club. Just ask for a temporary membership (which most places the same price as it was to get in the door). Alchohol stops being served at 1:00 AM, in California it is 2 AM. One hour difference, big whoop. Liquor stores do suck, they are only open until 10:00 PM. If you are in downtown there is one at 400 South and 200 West. There are a lot of fun bars in downtown Salt Lake, most out-of-towners love Port O' Call 400 South West Temple.
You can't get a drink in a bar, just beer. If you want a drink you have to join a private club. Cost is usually $5 to $10 for a 2 week membership. You can get a drink in many restaurants but you have to order a meal.
Well, don't plan on drinking! This place is the 'dry-man's' heaven. They do sell beer. But, oh yea, the beer has about the alcohol content of the worst wine cooler. The beer here is specially made for this region, LOW alcohol content.
Also if you are ski/boarding buy your lifts at the local stores. MUCH cheaper than at each resort.
The liquor laws are very strange in Utah...you can only buy it from state owned liquor stores, and they like to hide them...they are hard to find. Also, you can only get 3.2 beer, but you can bring your own bottle in & pour your own shots...does this make sense?? I'm not sure...
I've seen some ads warning about drinking in Utah, but people say that these laws were more strict in the past.
However some people say that laws are currently more strict in cities others than Salt Lake City in Utah.
Be careful anyway.