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Swizzle! :: EW's Nightlife Guide




Stay hard with energy drinks.


Back in my day I could party with the best. I'd go out to see a show, drink all night long, go to sleep at the crack of dawn and show up for work on time, smelling like a rose. Maybe I've just got good drinking genes thanks to my dear old alcoholic dad, but I never needed energy drinks to get through a night of bingeing. So what's up today? Why do drinkers want these "little helpers" with names like RockStar, Red Bull and Roaring Lion to pep them up for a night out?

My first call was to Mark Martin, bartender and bar manager at John Henry's. He said even though the drinks are "kind of weird because they're carbonated, and like a liquid SweeTart," they're so popular they serve the Lion from the soda gun. Martin said that on a busy night, such as their '80s dance night, they sell 30 an hour, mostly to girls in their 20s.

Why mostly to young ladies? Must be to give them energy for all that bumping and grinding they do on the dance floor and the frequent bathroom trips for makeup repair. Plain and flavored vodkas are the mixer of choice, and many energy drinks are made with Nyquil-flavored Jägermeister, which sounds icky, but I am assured it actually tastes pretty good. Mixing with Absolut Mandarin results in a Tang-flavored beverage that's surprisingly tasty.

Even on her slow shift, Wetlands bartender Amy Cauer said she normally sells at least one energy drink an hour. "We did a special on them for Fat Tuesday and I sold hundreds," she said. "And that was just one bar." With three serving stations set up at Wetlands, that's gallons of the fizzy potion.

A quick trip to the Red Bull website (www.redbull.com) showed a list of the purported benefits of consuming the liquid crank, which has more caffeine than black tea, but less than coffee. After reading this hype, I can't believe people drink anything else.

Drinking Red Bull "Improves Performance." Now, I think I know what they mean by performance. Maybe my husband and I should drink it by the case and elevate our sex life to the tantric level. Drinking it "Improves Concentration and Reaction Speed." So that means when the drunk at the next table swings a punch at you, you'll be able to swing back faster.

It also "Improves Vigilance." So the lech at the end of the bar has more stamina to stalk his catch of the night. Great. Drinking it "Improves Emotional Status," which is just too damn good to be true. And finally, Red Bull "Stimulates Metabolism." Red Bull, the new diet miracle. It probably is better for you than that age-old slimming trick, cigarettes and starvation.

People aren't drinking the alco-pops for their health, though. People choose energy drinks to get a boost early on in their drinking session, say, after a tiring day busting unions at the local Wal-Mart. Others drink the stuff at the end of the evening to extend their buzz but not make them falling-asleep-at-the-wheel drunk.

Ryan Holly orders energy drinks when he's out on the town. He said "they go down quick" and do the trick but he admits "it's certainly an acquired taste."

Maybe I'll try one next time I'm on a drinking bender. But I'll take mine like the classy club kids do in London, with Champagne. Bartender, one Cham-Bull, please.



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