Anyone who has searched the couch cushions for a handful of change knows that boozing on an extreme budget can be a risky proposition. To help you decide how to spend that meager pile of pennies, we've scraped the Bottom of the Barrel to review some of the cheapest swill on the market.
The Vintage: Four Loko Watermelon, ABV 12.5%
Shed a tear for your favorite ultra-caffeinated malt beverages, because they've been served walking papers by the FDA. Last month these products came under fire for being deceptively delicious, and making it easier for dumb kids to do really dumb, alcohol-fueled things. And at just three bucks a pop, bad life choices never came so cheap.
The company that makes Four Loko has since agreed to remove the caffeine and stimulants from their products (leaving behind boozy sugar water?), but for another week or so you can still get your Loko on. After that, you'll have to resort to the homemade, prison wine equivalent of Four Loko. Read on to see how this boozy bombshell of sugar, caffeine, guarana, and taurine stacks up against your standard vodka Redbull.
(See, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor this bounty after the jump)
Appearance: Holy phosphorescent watermelon! Not only does Four Loko contain enough red dye 40 to stun a lab rat, but if you put your ear down next to the glass, there's a slight radioactive hum. If you have ever contemplated the fastest route to super powers, fill a bathtub with this neon swill and take a quick dip. You'll probably emerge glowing and ready to Hulk out at the slightest provocation.
Bouquet: Like diving into a vat of watermelon candy, Scrooge McDuck-style. This stuff smells sweet. Way more sugary than those wimpy 4% ABV wine coolers, but lacking the scent of chemical death that accompanies fortified bum wines like Night Train. The chemical scent of wrongness that pervades those fine fortified vintages serves as a warning to consumers: All aboard the blackout express! With the deceptive Four Loko, a blackout in a can never smelled so good.
Body: The bitter aftertaste that accompanies some energy drinks is completely masked by the syrupy sweet watermelon profile, as is the 12.5% ABV hiding somewhere in that sea of Pop Rocks-worthy fizz. Four Loko is a carbonated Boone's Farm jacked up on steroids and looking for trouble.
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Finish: Yep. We get why the FDA's doing their regulatory thing now. Four Loko goes down smooth and leaves you with an instant buzz. The equivalent of three cups of coffee and a half a six-pack of beer, packaged as a single-serving tall boy? Vodka Redbull is child's play by comparison. It's stuck finger painting with the teacher, while Four Loko is off stealing kids' lunch money on the playground.
Pairs with: An all night bender. There is really no other reason to consume such a ridiculous amount of caffeine and liquor in a single serving unless you're looking to get fall-down drunk with your friends and make some bad life choices.
Lasting impressions: It's a saccharine watermelon soda pop that will fuck your night straight up. There's a reason you don't see people slamming a shot of tequila and chasing it with a double shot of espresso. Uppers and downers generally don't play nice with one another. We limited ourselves to just half of this potent potable, and were rewarded with wide eyes and crappy middle-of-the-night infomercials. But if you're looking to do some stupid stuff with tons of energy, crack a Loko and get down while you still can. Just do so responsibly.
Know of any screw top vintages we just have to try? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.