Locals say 'no, no, no' to rehab declaration

25 July, 2008

Rehab is for quitters! screams a sign outside Bacchanalia in Cambridge. It brightened up a slow news day for the local

paper, which predictably was able to find a couple of people who declared themselves outraged, and has earned the award-winning off-licence some national publicity.

The shop has been accused of "taunting" recovering alcoholics, especially those who meet locally. It's all water off a duck's back to manager Ed Read. "We didn't even know there were AA meetings in the church down the road - there's a reason why it's called 'Alcoholics Anonymous'," he says.

Ed has not had to fight his way through placard-waving protesters, or wipe paint off the front windows, and is preparing to install the next sign. "We change it every couple of months. We've had 'I'd rather have a full bottle in front of me than a full frontal lobotomy', and 'the liver is evil and must be punished' ".

Speed-signing debate rages on

Salman Rushdie has famously had to contend with the combined forces of militants in the Muslim world, but recently he's come under attack from something altogether scarier: Malcolm Gluck.

Gluck had written what the author described as an "unpleasant little missive" to the Guardian, rubbishing Rushdie's claims of signing 1,000 books in a n hour, suggesting he must have had merely scribbled his initials.

Mr Superplonk had a particular interest in the claim, since he is pretty proud of his own personal best of 1,001 signings in 59 minutes. But Rushdie was angered by Gluck's "weird" suggestion that he had cheated.

"If memory serves, I actually signed the 1,000 books in 57 minutes as against his 1,001 in 59, so his record is toast," he proclaimed.

Bigging up Blackthorn

"Blackthorn is the number one draft cider in the south west," according to the press release we received last week. That's odd - we didn't realise the brand was still a work in progress. Are we all participating in one giant consumer trial while Gaymer perfects the recipe? Oh - we see. They meant draught. Well, why didn't they say so?

Owl's ass wins over Californians

British wine expert Julian Davies has become something of a cult hero in California, where his Irregular Wine Tasting evenings have earned him a reputation for fast and funny tutorials, all delivered in a south east London accent. The Los Angeles Times is particularly taken by his references to Alsace as "owl's ass".

Maybe he's not quite ready for the WSET circuit, though. "I do a lot of subverting and perverting of wine back stories, or I make them up entirely," Davies admits.

Human mole robs off-licence

Do you dig off-licences? James Hudson does. Or, rather, digs into them. The 26


old from Hartlepool has admitted taking cigarettes and alcohol worth £750 from Redman's Off-licence in Redman Road, Sunderland, after tunnelling his way in from outside. Staff who turned up in the morning noticed a gaping hole in the shop's back wall.

It makes you think twice about encouraging customers to take their pick.

Wino covers herself with Budvar

The Daily Mail ran a story recently purporting to show Amy Winehouse with a mystery white powder up her nose. That's no business of ours, frankly, but our friends at Budweiser Budvar were fairly pleased with the coverage. In her haste to escape the paparazzi, the singer was pictured sheltering 'neath a flattened box proudly bearing the insignia of the Czech lager.

Says Ian Moss, Budvar UK's marketing manager: "This is our first tentative step into product placement."

Incidentally, if any wags in the trade are considering rebranding their shops as Amy's Wine House, the domain name has already been snapped up with both .com and .co.uk suffixes.

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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
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