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HomeYou'Moonshine made my skin peel off': Steve Jones' life in drinks

‘Moonshine made my skin peel off’: Steve Jones’ life in drinks

The TV presenter, 46, tells Samuel Fishwick about boozing with Beyoncé, how Bollinger made his day and why he’d like to share a glass with Jesus

I was invited to a charity dinner at the Cannes Film Festival. When I arrived Beyoncé and Jay-Z were on my table. I had the perfect icebreaker: they noticed I wasn’t wearing any shoes; I’d been on a boat before the event and, as I was disembarking, I couldn’t find them. Jay-Z was utterly appalled when I headed to the loo shoeless, so I said to him: ‘What am I supposed to do – a handstand and go in there? When you gotta go, you gotta go!’

The first time I got served in a pub was with my dad. I won’t mention its name because I was 14. My father’s rationale was that he’d rather I had a proper drink in a proper pub, as opposed to behind the youth club with my mates.

Nowadays, I like my water out of the tap but as a Welsh Valley kid I’d drink it straight out of the mountain streams. It made me feel like a proper adventurer. However, I remember one summer when my friends and I went hiking in the Valleys and, parched, we stopped to scoop up handfuls of water before pressing on. A little further on we found a sheep’s rotting carcass in the stream. We were all incredibly ill.

The TV presenter, 46, tells Samuel Fishwick about boozing with Beyoncé, how Bollinger made his day and why he'd like to share a glass with Jesus The TV presenter, 46, tells Samuel Fishwick about boozing with Beyoncé, how Bollinger made his day and why he'd like to share a glass with Jesus

The TV presenter, 46, tells Samuel Fishwick about boozing with Beyoncé, how Bollinger made his day and why he’d like to share a glass with Jesus

Once, after a kickabout in the street, I ran into my mate Chris’s house to grab a glass of water. To my eternal horror, as I finished the drink his dad’s false teeth came to rest on my lips. I’d drunk cleaning solution. Thankfully, my own father knew the antidote – a pint of milk. It was the 1980s and parents were more relaxed back then.

A few years ago my wife [American food writer Phylicia Jackson-Jones] and I made a pilgrimage to the Champagne region. The plan was to get a tour of the Bollinger house. I always feel elevated by a bottle of Bollinger. Say the word out loud – Bollinger – sounds classy, doesn’t it? What we didn’t realise is that everything shuts down during the weeks we were there. Gutted, my wife said if we called them maybe they would take pity on us and give us a personal tour, and that’s exactly what happened! We asked our lovely guide Caroline how often she drinks Bollinger. She said every day, even with breakfast. I want Caroline’s life.

I generally get my wine at Costco, Laithwaites and Berry Bros. Costco is cheap and cheerful. Laithwaites is excellent for mid-range and Berry Bros for high-end. Although Berry Bros shafted me recently. The brilliant Ruth Jones [Nessa in Gavin & Stacey] was lovely enough to provide a quote for the cover of my book, Call Time. As a thank you, I sent her a load of posh wines from them but they forgot to attach the personalised note. So she didn’t have a clue who they were from. We eventually got to the bottom of it all, but the gesture was absolutely ruined.

Nowadays, he likes his water out of the tap but as a Welsh Valley kid, Steve would drink it straight out of the mountain streams. Stock image used Nowadays, he likes his water out of the tap but as a Welsh Valley kid, Steve would drink it straight out of the mountain streams. Stock image used

Nowadays, he likes his water out of the tap but as a Welsh Valley kid, Steve would drink it straight out of the mountain streams. Stock image used

Steve's signature cocktail to order or make is a screwdriver. 'Just beautiful in its simplicity,' he says Steve's signature cocktail to order or make is a screwdriver. 'Just beautiful in its simplicity,' he says

Steve’s signature cocktail to order or make is a screwdriver. ‘Just beautiful in its simplicity,’ he says

The worst drink I’ve ever tasted was moonshine. And I mean the proper stuff that’s brewed in the woods and served in a cracked jam jar. I did a show early on in my career called 99 Things To Do Before You Die, and one of those things involved drinking moonshine with some hillbillies in the States. I was young, dumb and eager, so when my director kept egging me on to drink more, I did. The problem was that my director hadn’t tried the moonshine I was drinking. I pretty much burnt my insides, along with my mouth and chin, which peeled off like a snake’s skin a few days later.

My signature cocktail to order or make is a screwdriver. Just beautiful in its simplicity. Freshly squeezed orange juice and vodka. Ta-da! You can’t mess that up.

If I could choose anyone to share a glass with, dead or alive, it’d be Jesus. It would be great to learn once and for all if this religion stuff is legit or just fiction. Plus, water into wine? Yes please!

Steve Jones’s debut novel, Call Time, is published by Michael Joseph, £16.99*

*TO ORDER A COPY FOR £14.44 UNTIL 3 SEPTEMBER, GO TO MAILSHOP.CO.UK/BOOKS OR CALL 020 3176 2937. FREE UK DELIVERY ON ORDERS OVER £25.

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