The world's first super premium poppers launched as part of London Cocktail Week 2022
Bompas & Parr created the world’s first super premium poppers, paired with a curated drinks offering as part of London Cocktail Week 2022 at the bar-meets-late night party spot, Sweeties, at The Standard, London. With pleasure at the forefront of the ‘Excalibur XO’ activation, these artisanal poppers launched in an unbridled celebration of queer innovation, public joyfulness, sex positivity and exceptional design, with strict regulatory policies in place to ensure the safety of all participants.
The heady aromas are now available to purchase. All profits from Poppers sales will be donated to Tom of Finland Foundation.
To celebrate the launch of Excalibur XO, a series of displays, drinks and discussions were hosted across London Cocktail Week including:
Micro-exhibition of poppers
Curated by Adam Zmith, Author of Deep Sniff: A History of Poppers and Queer Futures, the exhibition, presented in a tiny museum, celebrated poppers at the convergence of pleasure, erotica, art and history. Complete with audio descriptions recorded by Adam, the exhibition aimed to educate and tantalise, featuring a series of 20th century erotic ads, amyl nitrite medicine tin, and other artefacts of excess.
Excalibur XO - Artisanal Poppers
As the world’s first super premium poppers, Bompas & Parr’s Excalibur XO is the most potent and artisanal version of the liquid released. The powerful product is bottled in hand-blown glass vessels by E&M Glass and is available from the Bompas & Parr shop in an ultra-limited edition. All proceeds from the edition will go to the Tom of Finland Foundation.
Aromatic panel discussion
Bompas & Parr hosted a free panel discussion in the library lounge at The Standard, London to support the event launch. The panel explored the history of poppers and its place within queer culture. The powerhouse of poppers panellists included:
● Jonny Woo (host) - performer, curator, writer and co-owner of LGBTQ+ performance pub, The Glory
● Stewart Who? (panelist) Stewart wrote the Gold-selling queer techno hit Twisted in 1997
● Ajamu X (panelist) - A darkroom/fine art photographer and radical sex activist
● John Sizzle (panelist) - Co-owner of LGBTQ+ performance pub, The Glory
Curated cocktails conceived in collaboration with world-class mixologists at The Standard, London
As the energetic highlight of London Cocktail Week, the curated drinks pairings designed by The Standard, London’s in-house mixology team were conceived to encourage insight, understanding, personal exploration and, of course, pleasure.
The cocktail menu featured three bespoke drinks, all designed to be paired with an optional aromatic of Bompas & Parr's Excalibur XO. The serves all featured ingredients that could be traced back to the medieval period such as black cardamom, saffron and carraway and were inspired by the Hi-NRG disco drinks of poppers' West Coast glory days.
● “Fist, Brain fuck and bang” - Caviar, White Chocolate, Carraway & Sea fennel A punchy clear blue serve
● “Darkness & Bliss” - Strawberry, Tonka & Saffron champagne A warm, naughty, exciting and lively serve
● “Butch Queen Up In Pumps” - Banana, Passionfruit Caramel, Jasmine Whey Big flavour, tall & yellow - designed to be the centre of attention
Supercharged launch party
The Excalibur XO launch party at Sweeties was the first preview event for London Cocktail Week itself, flying the flag for ingenuity, diversity and creativity within the drinks industry.
Guests enjoyed a heady evening complete with a knight in armour, as well as HiNRG sounds to match from DJ’s Wavefield, Josh Caffé (Loveshild) & Jeanie Crystal (Faboo TV). Attendees were able to customise their poppers bottle at the Pump Up your Poppers Station and reminisce about poppers of the past and add to the ‘Nostril Nostalgia’ infinity scroll.
Sweeties at The Standard, London, has hosted a plethora of queer focussed programming, from parties with Adonis, FabooTV, Jeanie Crystal and the Rimmers (part of the Buttmitzvah family) to hosting the likes of David Hoyle, Drag Syndrome, and BBZ.
Bompas & Parr also exhibited a sensational video sequence of archival artworks donated by the Tom of Finland Foundation, which has been dedicated to protecting, preserving, and promoting the erotic arts for over three and a half decades. Adam Zmith and Ajamu X curated additional provocative media works displayed at the event.
A poppers sommelier was on hand to guide guests through the Excalibur XO’s tasting & olfactory notes, designed to compliment the carefully curated cocktail menu.
Contextualising Excalibur XO
The brand and product name – Excalibur – references the title of the booklet 'Raging Sword’ by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs published in 1868, an account of his speech to the Congress of German Jurists considered by many to be the ﬁrst ever gay rights protest speech.
Ulrichs later said:
“Until my dying day I will look back with pride when on August 29, 1867, I found the courage to come face to face in battle against the spectre of an age-old, wrathful hydra which for time immemorial has been injecting poison into me and into men of my nature.”
In Adam Zmith’s excellent book, Deep Sniff the author suggests it might be a worthy inspiration for a new poppers brand. Our ambition was nothing less than launching the very best on the market.
Why now for poppers?
Poppers are strange yet iconic products. In the UK they are used by many, with one in twelve having tried them (Home Ofﬁce, 2016), yet entirely unfamiliar to the masses. They are one of the few products that are legal to sell entirely mislabelled – as ‘leather cleaner’ and ‘room odouriser’ – a far cry from their widespread and tacitly acknowledged use as a gateway to pleasure.
Bompas & Parr’s product and exhibition sits at the occlusion of a number of important social and experiential drivers:
● Pleasure Principle - Post Covid-19 pandemic, people are seeking ultra-sensory decadence. With focuses shifting from productivity to enjoyment, let the pleasure revolution begin.
● Queering of Culture - 800% increase in use of the term ‘queer’ between 1985 and 2019. The work heroes the innovative aspects of queer culture.
● New Sex Positivity - The early 2022s have been hailed as a golden era of sex positivity with people accessing the linguistic, spatial and societal tools to explore sexuality without taboo and shame. Long may this continue. The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes report that ‘anal sex rose from approximately one in 10 in 1990–1991 to approximately one in four men and one in five women in 2010–2012.’
Co-Founders & Organisers of London Cocktail Week, Hannah Sharman-Cox and Siobhan Payne, note
“We’ve been long-time fans of Bompas & Parr who never cease to amaze us with their creative ability to break the mould and make a bold statement with every project they release. So we couldn’t be happier that their latest launch will be happening as part of London Cocktail Week, especially one with such an important narrative behind it. We can’t wait to experience what they’ve created.”
Nick Hadfield, The Standard, London’s Director of Music and Culture, said
"In collaboration with Laurie Belgrave (founder of South London nightclub The Chateau), we've hosted a series of events focused on the history and narratives of London's LGBTQ+ community over the past few years at The Standard, London, culminating in our soon-to-launch club night ‘Climax'. We’re excited to be bringing it all together with Bompas and Parr for an intoxicating multi-sensory experience soundtracked by members of our queer community."