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The Kids are Loko

November 19, 2010

It’s hard to resist a rousing chorus of, “What the hell is wrong with kids these days!,” especially after sampling a couple flavors of Four Loko.

Thanks to All Over Albany I had the unlikely experience of getting to taste these with a 22-year old fan of the category, who had a broad level of familiarity with the different brands and flavors.  It was illuminating.

On one end of the spectrum is me, an almost middle-aged guy who has never even had a Red Bull.  Maybe I took a sip of someone’s once, but I couldn’t even swear to that. On the other end are young drinkers who have grown up with the bitter medicinal tastes of guranna, taurine and ginseng in their soft drinks, and who don’t mind those disgusting and vile flavors in the hard beverages they consume for pleasure.

If they were only trying to get drunk without spending a lot of money there are much tastier ways.  In the weeks and months to come, they may be searching for alternatives.

As always, I’m here to help.

In some ways I’m ill equipped to do this because from my earliest experiments with booze I never drank to get drunk.  ADS, Raf and others would gather and ADS would make fanciful “daiquiris.”

But in the college years, when times were less flush, there were always the classics.

A lot of us older folks started out with cheap wine, like Boone’s Farm or even cheap sparkling wine like André.  They come in a variety of flavors, like Boone’s famous Strawberry Hill, and have screw tops and plastic corks respectively.  

To some, the low-end fortified wines were dark places where they just would not tread.  After all, this is what the homeless drink—things like MD 20/20 Which, given its range of colors and flavors, seems to offer the closest direct comparison to Four Loko, without the added stimulants of course.  Back in the day, we took our stimulants when we were done drinking, with bottomless cups of coffee at the all-night diner.

Personally, I always had a soft spot for the Night Train Express.  It’s been a long long time since I last had it, but I don’t remember it being nearly as wretched as those giant cans of Four Loko. 

Still, ultimately these are all some form of wine.  And I came to understand from my junior taster that wine was a non-starter for him and his compatriots.  But that’s okay, even if I don’t fully understand it, because there are still more potential options.

As I tasted these vividly colored, fizzy concoctions, I couldn’t shake the feeling that a cocktail would be just so much more pleasant.  Cocktails can be potent and palatable, without requiring multiple bottles of booze, hard-to-find mixers, or even things like shakers and strainers.

Take for example the very simple concoction of coconut water and rum over ice.  But there are other mixed drinks that don’t have the heat or bite of alcohol.  Once while playing bartender at a friends house, I accidentally got a young lady who didn’t like booze tipsy on Kahlua and milk, which tastes surprisingly just like chocolate milk.

For those who are looking for more of a kick, I suggest learning how to drink straight booze.  If you are drinking cheap stuff, and it burns a bit, may I suggest chilling it first.  Ideally not just in the fridge, but with a little ice.  It’s amazing what a little dilution can do.  My friend S turned me on to chilled Jack Daniel’s shots in college, and I was amazed at how easily they went down.  S is a very smart woman.

Seriously though, be freaking careful.  Booze makes you feel funny because it’s poison and too much of it will kill you.  Most of my college life I avoided shots explicitly for this reason.  When you are drinking, your normal good judgment is affected, and avoiding shots always seemed like a good policy for staying out of major trouble.

Liquor may not be the answer.  After all, what is being lost is a fizzy fruity beer-like drink.  If you want to drink large quantities of a sweet and potent fizzy drink, you are in luck.  This is why God created 40s of malt liquor.  It’s been too long since my years hanging out in West Philly with my boys and some 40s.  I do remember a fondness for Olde English 800 and a distaste for St. Ides.  But beyond that, it’s a distant memory.

Still, these are closer to beer, and if Four Loko drinkers wanted malt liquor it has always just been on the next shelf over.  No, this isn’t the answer either.

I’m going to bank on pear cider, which was also another favorite of my old friend S.  It’s a bit more expensive and a bit less potent.  But it’s fruity, fizzy, and comes in large bottles.  It’s sold where beer is sold.  And it’s neither wine nor hard liquor.  If you really need to get your buzz on, maybe you can have a quick shot of chilled vodka before enjoying your truly tasty and delicious beverage.

Who knows, it may even be the gateway drug that gets you to start enjoying your drink, instead of drinking just being a means to an end.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2010 1:31 pm

    Well you would make just one heck of a Scout Troop leader, now wouldn’t you! Thunderbird merit badges all around….

  2. November 19, 2010 2:11 pm

    That first comment is priceless.
    One of the worst drinking experiences I’ve had resulted from being underage in a bar while a “friend” was sending pints of Red Bull and vodka over our way. How do people drink that combo? Ugh!

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