Yo ho ho and a bottle of Beck's
Published:  12 January, 2007

The tranquility of an East Sussex off-

licence was smashed recently when Trading Standards burst in with a pimply youth. "Avast, ye swabs!" yelled the council men (we're paraphrasing a bit).

"This young gentleman has been served intoxicating liquor in this very shop! We know, because

'twas us that sent him in here! Ah haargh!"

Ashen-faced staff had no idea they had fallen foul of a test purchase and meekly asked what exactly it was that they had done wrong.

"We'll tell ye what ye've done!" squawked the Trading Standards man, slamming down a bottle of Beck's on the counter. "Behold the evidence! Now what d'ye have to say for yourselves?"

The manager examined the merchandise. "I'll tell you what I have to say for myself," smiled the manager. "This is ­alcohol-free Beck's. Is there a problem?"

Cue a hasty retreat from the premises

by the crack test purchasing squad.

Without any apology, needless to say.

Fevered choice

Isn't it nice when store staff get passionate about their products? A relative of an OLN hack was in a north London ­Oddbins over the Christmas break and asked for

help choosing a gin. "Tanqueray!" boomed the assistant. So the famous brand was duly selected, along with a bottle of Schweppes. "I cannot allow you to mix Tanqueray with THAT TONIC," decreed the Oddbins man, replacing her choice with a bottle of Fever Tree.

Team tactics

Interesting to note that Lloyd Stephens is replacing Alex Anson as trading director of Thresher. Regular Spittoon readers will doubtless recall the sporting event that defined 2006 - the Thresher v Gallo football match in Welwyn, in which the two stalwarts went head to head in a 7-7 draw. Thresher scouts clearly saw something that day in ex-Tonbridge Angels star Stephens that they liked and have at last got their man. Thresher, we understand, will continue to play in their favoured formation: 3-4-2.

Tangled web

A year on from its untimely demise and the unwins.co.uk website is still up and running - admittedly with a picture of an off-licence with the word "closed" plastered across it. "This section of the website is temporarily unavailable," a message advises. Does the webmaster know something the rest of us don't?

Unholy row

The church is the latest institution to sink its teeth into the off-trade. Two vicars in Radcliffe, Lancashire, are opposing a shop's application for a licence on the basis that they think there are enough already. "I am worried that with all these outlets selling alcohol, they will be forced to lower their prices and may be less careful about the people buying the drinks and who they are being passed on to," said the Reverend Gary Windon, who clearly has a lot of faith in his fellow man. The Reverend Janet Aspey chi pped in: "Off-licences are often congregating places for teenagers, which can be intimidating to people using the church." Does anyone actually know any teenagers

who are up before

matins on a Sunday?

Czech mates

Budweiser Budvar and sworn enemy Anheuser-Busch, the US brewer of Budweiser, have found an unusual way to celebrate 100 years of legal warfare - they've signed a deal in which A-B will import the Czech lager into the US. The two brewers will have been dragging each other through the courts of the world for 100 years this summer, in a bitter battle over who owns the name Budweiser. A-B has the US sewn up, and will be distributing its Czech rival under the name Czechvar. Both sides have vowed to continue their legal wranglings over the Bud trademark.

Pubs go buy the book

Book-reading is being promoted as a cure for habitual binge drinking. Bosses at Gloucester County Council's library service have handed out 20,000 coasters in pubs to help convert boozers into bookworms. The mats define a lager lout as a "rowdy or ­aggressive male" and advise punters to "fill your head with something you'll remember tomorrow". A pic on the reverse shows a man flipping the top of his head open and pouring in a bottle of lager.

Technophobe of the year

We're looking for the cream of those Luddite buyers, retailers or marketing people who have singularly failed to embrace modern technology. This year's award

will go to a person who's still to buy a mobile phone. If you think you fit the bill, text the word LUDDITE to 8477465.

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Lifting the spirits

I were to sum up alcohol sales over Christmas 2017 in one word, it would be “gin”. At Nielsen, we define the Christmas period as the 12 weeks to December 30 and in that time gin sales were £199.4 million, which means they increased by £55.4 million compared with Christmas 2016. There’s no sign the bubble is about to burst either. Growth at Christmas 2016 was £22.4 million, so gin has increased its value growth nearly two-and-a-half times in a year. The spirit added more value to
total a

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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