Britain's going back to the 70s with rebirth of Babycham – Susan Morrison
Good news, party people! They’re re-launching Babycham.
Well, I’m saying it’s glad tidings. Someone must be chuffed, or they wouldn’t be bothering. Have to admit, I never really loved a Babycham.
They used to advertise it endlessly on the telly, which was awash with booze back in the bleak mid-70s. Each drink had its own personality. Cinzano was a right old riot. Leonard Rossiter endlessly chucked that infusion of Italian wines, herbs and spices over Joan Collins and we just hooted with laughter.
Red, bitter Campari was the jealous rival. They made us smile by bringing us Lorraine Chase. She had the face of an angel, and told us that she had wafted in from Luton Airport with the voice of a London bus clippie.
Martini muscled its way in with a glamorous horde of gorgeous women and rock-jawed men, water-skiing and rollerblading along the Promenade des Anglais. Heady stuff when the only prom you’d been on was Clydeside Girvan during a wet Fair Fortnight.
Cointreau was a chap with a ridiculously overdone French accent at a posh dinner party. He smouldered at a lady and told her about oranges growing under a tropical sun. Until recently, I’d convinced myself he was actually President Macron.
Babycham was the party girl on a first date, all lipgloss and shiny blue eyeshadow, probably Miners. For those too young to remember, Miners was a make-up brand much favoured by teen girls, who shoplifted it from Boots. No idea why it was called Miners. Never saw a member of the NUM heading down the mine with a face full of slap.
Our bonny lass would whirl up to the bar, gaze into the eyes of her date to say “I’d love a Babycham!” Then a tiny deer frolicked all over the place. Must have been strong stuff, because no one noticed Bambi on the optics.
It aspired to be glamorous, but it never really made it. That party girl left the tang of ‘common’ about it, like cheap lipstick on her glass. It was not Champagne. Had you committed the mortal sin of suggesting to Margo Leadbetter, a titan of 70s glamour, that she’d love a Babycham more than a glass of Veuve Clicquot, one feels sure that one would never have been welcome in the Musical Society again.
Even with Babycham’s slightly downmarket feel, these were the drinks you thought you’d love when you grew up, and so it was a crushing disappointment to discover that the booze they were hawking tasted like TCP. Yes, I’m looking at you, Campari. Cinzano’s finest moment was when it was being worn by Ms Collins rather than being consumed. Martini wasn’t much better, even with a choice of red or white. Cointreau’s just alcoholic marmalade. Stick in some toast, and voilà!, breakfast in a glass.
No wonder they needed copious amounts of lemonade to wash them down, not forgetting the wee paper parasol and the Maraschino cherry. At the first bar I worked in all those years ago, we constantly had to remind patrons to remove the parasol before drinking to prevent eye-poking.
Well, at least it's made on these islands. Given the way the shortages are going, we might all soon be saying ‘I’d love a Babycham’. Could be the only thing left to drink.