Under Control Conference

The opening lecture served to remind us all that whatever studies are made on drink and drugs, any eagerness to discover a means to counter addiction needs to be researched properly without being influenced by the promise of financial reward. Professor Scott Martin of Bowling Green State University talked about Columbia Universitys eagerness to back a new cigarette filter which promised to help reduce inhaling nicotine – but for which, in the end, there was no proof and the the whole venture back-fired.

Professor Scott Martin's opening lecture

Professor Scott Martin’s opening lecture

This was followed by the first fringe event – a talk and tasting by Sam Bompass of Bompass & Parr on Ether.


Sam Bompass

Sam Bompass

Ether in itself is not illegal, just restricted availability. Because it knocks you out, consumers would pass out before they took too much. Ether is combustible at 160C, and the only deaths have occurred if smoking after taking ether. Also known as ‘sweet vitriol’ because of a slightly sweet character. It was first used as an anaesthetic in 1846. It is a by-product of distillation, but need to drink very quickly because it is so volatile and the trick was to down really quickly followed by a glass of ‘heavy’ water. An association of ideas meant that the smell was too reminiscent of the dentist and hospitals.


The first drink was dropping ether onto the strawberry which absorbed the ether and then floating the strawberry in a glass of sparkling wine. In the first glass the ether was not too noticeable – but with time the ether in the strawberry became more pronounced. The flavour reminded me of Fisherman’s Friends. If sipped slowly the effect was slightly tongue numbing.


The second drink was a cocktail called ‘Evil Town’ made with 30ml brandy, 30ml maraschino, 5ml sugar syrup and ether and 5ml absinthe. Dark brown in colour, it had a strong aroma of bitter oranges and pine resin drowning any ether aromas. On the palate it was thick and sugary with notes of white chocolate, bitter orange and pine resin. Again the ether was not obvious.

Friday 21st June 2013

Chair: Dr Angela McShane

Amy Mittelman ‘Creating Bourbon: Distillers and the Federal Government’

Elizabeth Gabay: ‘How did Punch survive the Gin Acts of the 18th Century’

Keynote Address: Professor James Simpson, Carlos III University Madrid ‘Producer co-operatives, institutional change and politics in the wine industry 1880-1980’

Chair: Amy Mittelman

William J Rorabaugh, University of Washington: ‘High Times: Hippies and Marijuana in the San Francisco Bay Area 1960s-70s’

Claire Clark, Emory University: ‘The Return of Heroin: The Crisis of the 1960s and the Revolution in Drug Treatment’

Chair: Professor William Rorabaugh

Charlotte Jones, UCL: ‘The Temple of Temperance: The role of the Turkish bath as an antidote to drunkeness in Victorian Britain’

Henry Yeomans, University of Leeds: ‘Blurred Visions: Experts, evidence and the promotion of moderate drinking’

Angela McShane, Victoria and Albert Museum: ‘ The Goldilocks and the Three Bears routine: A material inquiry into drinking ‘too much’ and ‘just enough’ in Early Modern England.’

Alex Kreit

Alex Kreit

James Simpson

James Simpson

Alex Mold

Alex Mold

Off to the pub...

Off to the pub…


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