You know what’s a lot of fun? Getting pissed to block out the pain. It’s one of Britain’s oldest traditions, along with queuing and tutting.

These days, I tend to stick to hipster gin and nice wine, because I am a twat. Back in the day, though, the world of alcohol was a wonderful and mysterious one. Adults would get together to drink these brightly coloured potions that transformed them from sad to happy to sad again, only more sad than before. Also they smoked ciggies and talked about “Alan who did you-know-what with the Avon lady”.

Meanwhile, the kids would be banished to the corner of the room, with our She Ra figures and our Panda Pops, trying to hear the adults’ conversation because you knew they were going to say ‘willy’ at some point, because that’s what adults say.

I’m getting a bit off topic here. The point is that there was some interesting booze knocking about when I was younger. Granted, these days we have ‘hand-pissed violet and beef gin’, but does that have Lorraine Chase advertising it? It does not.



Let’s begin with a classic – one of the first alcopops, which meant 13 (cough I mean 18) year olds like me didn’t have to drink stuff that tasted like Chanel No. 5.

“It’s lemonade! But it’s also booze!” That was probably their slogan. I can’t remember, I was drunk.

You can still buy Hooch now, but I think a lot of the appeal is lost on the modern teenage consumer, what with Heroin Cheerios being a thing in Morrisons.



Moving on to something classier, Babycham was the drink of choice at Christmas. Why this was the case has never been established – I didn’t particularly like the stuff, but teenage me would receive a 4-pack every year. I think my parents must have seen the word ‘baby’, and gone “Oh look Ann, it’s booze for kids!”

These days, there is as much alcohol in my piss as there is in a bottle of Babycham.


taboo mirage

Let’s not beat around the bush here – these two must be mentioned together, like fish ‘n’ chips, or Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. I think they were the same drink but different, which means they were not the same. The main difference is that no one has ever had Mirage, while most people have had Taboo once, when their friend found it in the back of a cupboard one Tuesday evening.

The advert is a thing of beauty, like the old P&O adverts, which I am also in love with.

Barley Wine

barley wine

A fortified beer that’s as strong as red wine. Not much is known about this quaint tipple, except that my grandma got hammered on it one new year’s eve and started yelling about Max Bygraves.

Smirnoff Mule

smirnoff mule

Another staple of my teenage years out in Retford, Smirnoff Mule was a Moscow Mule in a bottle – vodka and ginger beer. It was OK. Don’t drink 9 of them when you’re 13 though. I mean 18. Otherwise you’ll end up kissing a guy with curtains, like I did.



No one I knew ever drank Skol, but to be fair I didn’t know many 40 year old pit workers when I was 5. Anyway, it has to be on this list for its brilliant advert:

“Skol Skol Skol Skol Skol Skol Skol…” I think that’s a message we can all get behind.

And while we’re on the subject of ‘beers of my childhood’, this sign seemed to adorn every pub in Yorkshire back in the day:

tetley bitter

Blue Curacao

bols blue curacao

I’m not going to spend long writing about this because I can’t spell it properly. All you need to know is that it’s a staple ingredient of cocktails at caravan park cabaret clubs. Along with grenadine and midori. Even now I can’t pass the ‘weird cocktail supplies’ bit in the supermarket without getting an urge for bingo, and watching a man sing Tom Jones hits while an indifferent crowd looks on.

White Lightning


5p a litre. Stinks of farts. Causes this:

WL men

Beloved drink of local chavs in the park, who will later have sex in the kids’ play area and shit on the swings. Best avoided.



I’ve never had Cinzano, but I made that Lorraine Chase reference earlier, and not including this wouldn’t have made any sense. I could have gone back and deleted that bit, but shut up, you’re not the boss of me.

Turns out the advert was actually Joan Collins and not Lorraine Chase. Lorraine Chase advertised Campari, so just replace Cinzano with Campari when you’re reading this. I haven’t had either.

I’m so unhappy.



Sick and bleach in a variety of colours. Red, blue, and other. Aftershock single-handedly transformed “Do you fancy a nightcap?” into “Do you fancy a trip to A&E?”

To prove this, I asked my followers on Twatter:

aftershock poll

At the time of writing, 53% of my followers are serial killers.



Hands up who has ever had Metz, ever? No one ever drank Metz, because we were all too terrified of the Judderman:

I think Metz was a kind of shnapps, I have no idea.

Of course, nowadays I am not afraid of the Judderman, I am afraid of normal things like idents and the menopause. Checkmate, Judderman.



Having done a lot of research (nothing) I can confirm that Reef was probably vodka and fruit juice. It was definitely fruit juice anyway. I swear to God they used to do a blue/turquoise version of Reef, which I used to drink like it was going out of fashion. However, I can’t find any record of this now. Does anyone else remember it?

Anyway, Reef was a posh drink because it wasn’t fizzy. Or something.

Interestingly, this site is selling an unopened bottle of Reef. It looks like it’s seen better days:

old reef



No, not Lambrini, you giant tit. Lambrusco was around for sad women before you were even a glint in your sad mother’s eye… Look, I don’t know where I’m going with this. Stop oppressing me.

Lambrusco was the original shit wine of choice for single women. Several large ladies of my acquaintance used to yell about “Getting on the Lambrusco!” before collapsing into floods of tears. This was a thing long before they did the exact same thing with Lambrini.

I have been told that Lambrusco is actually a ‘perry’, and not a wine, but I can’t be arsed to look into that, and anyway I don’t care. People drink it because they’re single women sticking it to the men by getting hammered and crying.

Trust me, I know this.

And here ends our museum of shit booze.

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25 thoughts on “A review of 80s and 90s booze

  1. Ah Reef. Staple of my university days. I have never really been much of a drinker because my unsophisticated palate means I think most alcohol tastes disgusting. The fruit juice in Reef disguised that. I suspect though that my 40 year old self would find it unbearably sweet.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another to add to the pile is Vosk. I think it was some Vodka based thing, notable for the fact that it came in an aluminium bottle – presumably to stop people smashing the empties over the heads of blokes who dared to look at their birds.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I used to work in a pub where we would sell Reef. It was so short dated that we often ran deals where you could buy 4 for the price of 1 just to get rid of it.

    Archers Aqua all the way, mmmm Peach.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh god… I remember drinking Reef (which was sold dirt-cheap), Curacao and a bunch of random white spirits out of pint glasses in the student union. Once I got drunk from the feet up – I found that out when I attempted to get off the bar stool, my legs gave way and I fell and twatted my skull off the floor. Fortunately, I was so pissed that I didn’t feel a thing. Part of me misses 90s alcopops. I think there was one called Woody’s that had a picture of a frog on the label? Or maybe I just hit my head a bit hard back then!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Blue Reef was definitely a thing, I remember it being a quid a bottle in my local when I was at college.

    Metz was Smirnoff Ice before Smirnoff Ice became ubiquitous.

    Aftershock can go rot in hell. We used to have drunken competitions to see who could hold the cinnamon one in their mouth the longest. Vomiting usually followed.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Back in my university days, snakebite was a big thing. The best snakebite was a Holsten/1080 snakebite. A wag in our college decided that the only way a Holsten/1080 snakebite could be improved was to add Blue Curacao, and – hey presto – a FROGBITE!*

    * Cos it turned the snakebite green…

    I actually fell into a bush after one too many frogbites, and somehow, a box of matches in my bag spontaneously combusted. So I was lying nearly comatose, in a bush, with a fire raging and smoke pouring out of my handbag. It’s a miracle I’m here to tell the tale…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m trying to find out the name of an alcoholic drink that came out in the 80’s and disappeared in the 90’s. It’s in a tall white bottle (similar to Malibu). I saw a clip on Classic Corrie a few weeks ago and the bottle was sat on Alf Robert’s shop shelf. I’ve asked everyone I know if they can remember it but no luck. I took a pic of it but it’s not a good quality so it doesn’t show the name. Can you help me? It’s driving me mad!! Cheers L x

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Jenny! I’m not on Twitter but I am on Instagram or I can email you the pic? Just have the details and I’ll send it to you, the quality isn’t that good bit I’m sure you or someone will recognise the bottle.
        Lisa x


      1. No Jenny I’m still trying to find out what it was called, it’s driven me daft πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚


      1. Hi Mari, no I still haven’t found out the name of this drink. If someone gives me their email address I can send you a pic. Honestly, I’ve tried everything but I’ve hit a brick wall πŸ˜‚πŸ‘


  8. The only person I ever saw drink Lambrusco was Simon Bisley, a raving artist who at one time was the comics equivalent of Led Zeppelin 2. I think it was because he was in an italian restaurant. There were no sad ladies in sight,


  9. I worked I a club back in the day
    I’m sure it was brought out around the time of a world cup
    Was called hoo lala.. was just amazing.. I used to hide it in the work fridge an til ppl we had none so I could have it at the end of my shift haha was like a fruity flavour cant find any pics of it anywhere



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