Porn Star Martinis And The Booze Police

porn-star-martini

The hand-wringing moralising of Britain’s assorted watchdogs and authorities – many self-appointed and legally dubious, yet as powerful as any government body – is so constant, and has such continual mission creep, that it feels as though we could write about nothing else. Indeed, sometimes it feels as though we do write about nothing else. But the latest decision by the Portman Group – an alcohol industry watchdog that everyone from manufacturers to retailers slavishly obeys, even though they have no legal basis whatsoever – is quite a doozey.

Marks and Spencer have been ‘forced’ to change the name of their canned cocktail the Porn Star Martini after a single complaint from a member of the public. Now, I think we can all imagine what sort of person the complainant would be, and what might have motivated them. Indeed, their complaint states that “if you allow this, it will open the floodgates to other eg Sex on the Beach, Slippery Nipple, Sloe Comfortable Screw, Liquid Viagra etc” – a pearl-clutching fear of sexual innuendo and a hatred of porn combined to create a perfect storm of moral indignity, it appears. Now, the idea of the thoroughly middle class M&S stocking Slippery Nipples is perhaps a bit of a leap, though to be fair, I was surprised to see the Porn Star Martini on the shelves to begin with. But these are the names of popular cocktails, and if the chain thinks its customers will be into that sort of thing, then more power to them, quite frankly. Who are we to judge?

And who are the Portman Group to judge either? But judge they do. One of the bizarre rules that the group have in their efforts to make alcohol as respectable as possible (a worthy cause in itself, though a useless one given the way successive governments continue to put the squeeze on the industry) is a ban on linking alcohol to sex. Yes, the Portman Group live in a curious parallel universe where alcohol is in no way responsible for anyone ever getting laid and where booze is never, ever used as a sexual loosener, confidence builder, seduction enhancer or mere aphrodisiac.

While the Porn Star Martini – orginally invented by Douglas Ankrag in 2002 – has no sexual imagery or language on the label, the name is enough. Porn stars, after all, do have a lot of sex. The complainant – and the Portman Group – believe that the mere connection is enough. Clearly, anyone buying this drink will do so with images of gang bangs and bukkake scenes floating in their heads, images that have only been conconcted because of the name. It had to go.

Marks and Spencer have now changed the name of the drink to the Passion Star Martini, which clearly has no sexual connections at all. The passions you’ll feel from the drink will definitely not be erotic ones. Maybe the love of a football team or knitting, but definitely not sex. The customers of the M&S foodhalls are safe once again. Now we only have to worry about the patrons of cocktail bars across the country who can still order the drink under its original name and so are heading onto the slipperly slope of drunken licentiousness as the Portman Group sits by watching, impotent and frustrated.

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