We ♥ 1970: Retro drinks

Imbibe Editorial

Imbibe Editorial

25 August 2015

The 1970s are back, right? Flares, kaftans, smocks – and of course cocaine never even went away. Imbibe’s editorial team* nominate the bits of the decade they’d most like to see making a glorious return

Sleazy cocktail names
Sure, clever cocktail puns are all very well. All your Rye Me to the Moons and Tequila Mockingbirds. Very twinkly-eyed and ironic; very beard-strokingly amusing. But sometimes you need a name that just hits you between the eyes with all the subtlety and restraint of an out of control fire truck – particularly if it has the added advantage of making both staff and customers uncomfortable. Free subscription to the first bar to create the Soapy Handjob.

Apples and pears are brothers. But while cider is the Patek Philippe-wearing blingster, perry still lives in the council house they grew up in. But why? Back in the 70s most cider tasted like sheep-dip strained through a farmer’s gumboot. While fizzy pear jollop with a faun so cute it’s reduced even hardened Disney illustrators to tears was a winner. More Bambi-booze is what post-recession Britain needs.

Waitresses on roller skates
Everyone skated everywhere in the 1970s. Postmen, miners, disco divas, waitresses, Stephen Hawking – you name ‘em and they had wheels on their feet. With complaints about slowness of service the number one bugbear for your average eater- and drinker-outer, we’d say it’s time to bring back roller skates and to hell with the glassware bill. Saddle up, Ginger, and chocks away!

Mateus rosé
It’s pink. It’s got sugar in it. It’s got a weirdo globular bottle. It’s from a country that thinks salt cod tastes great. And yet somehow, Mateus is actually OK. The drink that launched a million woozy fumbles four decades ago deserves a second chance. Firstly, it’s better than most of the pink piss sold by the gallon in the UK. And secondly, ask yourself this: is there a famous pic of Sir Jimi of Hendrix swigging from a bottle of Blossom Hill? Well, is there? I think you’ll find there is not. QED.

OK. So we all know vermouth is popular again. But no one seems to have told the public. Memo to the on-trade: something is not popular if the only people who drink it work in a fecking bar. We want vermouth in the vermainstream: a big brand paying big money for big stars to crap on about the ‘famous blend of white wine and spices’ in the middle of Coronation Street. Cinzano did it best. They can do it again. Who’s the equivalent of Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins these days? How about Ricky Gervais and Nicole Kidman?

Straw flasks
Most right-thinking people would agree that, since the death of papyrus, there’s just not been enough straw in the world. Combine this with the fact that absolutely nobody wants to see the vulgar lower half of a wine bottle, and it’s clear that there’s one perfectly crafted solution: bring back the Chianti flask and bring it back NOW!

Salt packets in crisps
Tired of Facetweegramming your friends in the bar and at a loose end? What you need is snacks you can play with. What you need is Salt ‘n’ Shake! Go back 80 years and if you wanted crisps, they all came with a sachet of salt that you had to add yourself. By the end of the 1970s it was a trend on the way out, and, oddly, a relaunch in 2003 headed up by, er, Gary Lineker didn’t seem to work. But cantcha just see Taylor ‘Shake it Off’ Swift promoting Southern Barbecue Piggy Itchings?

Glacé cherries
Want to know how to make a glacé cherry? Take one cherry, remove the stone, then replace all the boring watery bits with sugar. Genius. Apparently the same process is used for spaghetti to make a Curly Wurly. Seriously, though, is there anything better than this? Sweet, juicy and the colour of the whore of Babylon’s lipstick. Put ‘em in, on and under everything, we say…

Binatone tennis
We’ve all seen bars with bandits and retro arcade games in ‘em. But what happened to Binatone tennis? The hypnotic thrill of bouncing a square blob from one side of the screen to the other... Like Woodstock, if you can remember it, you weren’t there, man. It was like Grand Theft Auto deconstructed to a line of code and given a minimalist makeover by Berenice Abbott (look her up!).

Creamy cocktails
If you feel that cocktails now are just too clear, too dry, too grown-up… You’d be right. Time to add a bit of juvenilia to our mixed-drink offering by reaching for the cream liqueurs at every opportunity. Say ‘no’ to balance and elegance; reject the tyranny of perfectly zested citrus. We want drinks you could stand a hawthorn strainer up in, and we want them by the pint and with enough fruit on the top to decorate Carmen Miranda’s hat. Oh, and an umbrella too.

Chicken/scampi in a basket
Chianti flasks got us thinking... Let’s stick with the ‘bring back straw’ shtick and put a request out there for deep-fried food served in the comforting confines of woven raffia. It’s retro, it hints at rusticity, and it’s unnecessary. What could be more hipster than that, short of serving hand-dived Burmese oysters in a manual typewriter?

The snowball
Snowballs were such an essential part of any 1970s Christmas celebration that they deserve a comeback in their own right. Admittedly, no one really liked the taste of Advocaat mixed with lemonade, but this drink wasn’t about the taste. It was about the pretty froth on top! This was theatre of serve before anyone even knew what theatre of serve was. Squint and you might mistake it for one of those fancy molecular foams that are soooo two years ago.

Actually, we genuinely rather like this stuff. Not the nasty sweet rubbish, but the dry red fizzy not-rubbish-at-all kit. Brought to your table by a waitress on roller skates, while you play Binatone football, it’s the perfect thing to refresh the palate after a sweet, creamy cocktail. It’s also an anagram of Scrambulo, which sounds like a game you’d play at a tedious 1970s dinner party, before heading upstairs with your neighbour’s wife. Or husband. Or both.

*Not Gaëlle. She wasn’t even born until long after the 1970s. Child.

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