Bottom’s Up: Energy Drinks

I jerk awake, finding myself sliding over to one side of my reclined bus seat. It’s 8:30 p.m., and as I look out the window to my right, I realize we are finally over the mountain and just took the tight switchback up by that restaurant that no one ever goes to but probably has a pretty awesome view. I mean, surely people don’t go there for the convenience, and we know it can’t be the food; there are only like six parking places. When you take into account the cook, waitress, host and busboy, that makes what, two spaces for customers? And I’m sure one of them is just the bar regular who comes by for a G&T and looks out over the Purple Valley seeing and thinking things that the rest of us won’t understand until we’ve seen Walker Texas Ranger canceled, witnessed three major U.S. military failures and have been forced by circumstance to go out back to shoot Old Yeller.
In any case, it’s 8:30 p.m. and I am exhausted from an 8 a.m. wake-up, a long bus ride, a tough rugby game and a few drinks at dinner. In other words, it’s the Saturday evening before Halloween, and I am way too tired to go out.
So what do I do? I slide my hand into my backpack and search for the icy cold aluminum of an oversized soda can (or hand grenade, depending on your perspective). With a hiss loud enough to wake the occupants of eight neighboring rows, I crack open my Four Loko (fruit punch flavor). A third of the way down I know that I won’t have any problems staying awake to go out tonight. Two-thirds down and I know I’ll be grinding with or without partners on Goodrich stage for four-and-a-half consecutive hours. An empty can in hand, I know I won’t be sleeping until Monday night (and won’t have normal intestinal function until Friday).
Yes, my friends, today’s “Bottoms Up” is on everyone’s favorite crack, cocaine, amphetamine, ritalin, heroine and crystal-meth substitutes – alcoholic energy drinks.
As a William’s College rugger, I will never forget my sworn oath of fealty to Sparks. But alas, production of this titan of yesteryear has ceased in this fine old Commonwealth of Massachusetts and can only be found on a Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle-like adventures to a sketchy 7-Eleven/gas station combo in the heart of West Virginia, where the quixotic (resembling or befitting Don Quixote) guy selling you the Sparks asks if you’re 18 and tells you not to have too much if you’re pregnant (not caring to notice your gender).
Today, however, we have the fine selection of three other alcohol-infused caffeine time bombs (or “alcopops” as they seem to be called on Wikipedia) – Four Loko, Joose and Crunk Juice.
Four Loko comes to us in a 23.5 oz aluminum can with wildly trippy concept art that still somehow fails to warn consumers of what they are getting themselves into. Perhaps a more accurate can would feature a guy passed out in a disco roller rink with a prostitute in one arm, a fresh and clearly self-administered tattoo on his chest, three cats licking vomit from his face and one of his shoes that is actually the banana phone from “Banana Phone.”
Four Loko boasts nine flavors that, despite a whole spectrum of neon coloring, still all taste of fertilizer that has been fortified with distilled cat urine for that little extra something. If you want my advice, go for the red fruit punch – that way when you vomit (and vomit you will), your friends will think you’re hacking up blood and call 911. This way the ambulance will arrive just before your heart attack.
As you should all know by the name (the four in Four Loko explicitly announces the beverage’s main ingredients), this drink mainly contains caffeine, taurine, guarana and alcohol. It also has carbonation, sugar, artificial flavoring and … what’s this? Natural flavorings? Well, I’ll leave that one to the reader’s discretion. Personally, I don’t buy it for one second.
As this is a review column, I feel pressured to mention how my tasting of the other two alcopops went. The only conclusion I can come to is this: There is no discernable taste difference.
Yes, it is true that drinking Joose might lead to the reader passing out in a Discovery Zone instead of the roller rink, or that consuming Crunk Juice will magically substitute ferrets in for the alley cats licking the gunk and grime from your unconscious lips, but all in all these drinks are like that annoying member of your friend group who always points out how assuming something makes an “a–” out of “u” and “me” – that is to say: Alcopops all taste like “a–” and they also magically turn you into one.
In conclusion, who came up with the name “alcopop” for this class of drinks? That just sounds dumb. I bet anyone on this campus, brain-dead from years of alcopop consumption or not, could come up with a better name. And to prove it, I want all of the seven readers of this column to come up with suggestions and drop them off at the mailroom addressed to SU box 1570. I’ll reveal the best one or five or so in the next “Bottom’s Up” article: “(your suggestion here): The Main Cause of Attention Deficit Disorder.”

24 oz can of Four Loko: $2.70, 24 oz can of Joose: $2.70, 24 oz Crunk Juice: $2.70 from Spirit Shop.

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