Maxim.com consumes insane amounts of liquid stimulants in a hyperactive blind taste test
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Yes, there are dozens of Red Bull wannabees: sweet carbonated drinks filled with caffeine, guarana, taurine, vitamins, and other ingredients that may or may not boost mental alertness, add spring to your step, and kickstart hyperspeed jabbering. But a quick survey of what’s on store shelves proves there’s more diversity than one might expect: These drinks are pink, red, blue, even yellow. They come in packages ranging from small (2-ounce shot) to obscene (16-ounce thermos). Our panel of six Maxim.com judges tried nine commonly available energy drinks—purchased from stores on the same day and consumed cold—in a blind taste test. We’re still shaking.
Vitamin Water Energy (Tropical Citrus)
The gimmick/message: These bottles remind us of would-be healthy Gatorade—what with words like vitamin and water on the label. Hell, it’s just water, right? Uh…
Looks like: “radioactive yellow pee,” “something that should be leaving my body not entering it.”
Smells like: vague pineapple-esque aroma
Tastes like: pineapple, lemon, citrus, fruit—notably not carbonated. Surprisingly appealing perhaps because it doesn’t taste like artificially flavored, cherry cough syrup.
Flavor rank: #1
Venom Black Mamba Energy
The gimmick/message: Drink this potent fluid—you wicked snake/scorpion—and feel the power of poison enter your body. Also could be interpreted as: See that big wide-open eye? That could be your eye if you drink this.
Looks like: sparkling cider
Smells like: bubblegum, cotton candy,
Tastes like: “a sugar explosion,” juicy fruit, Red Bull
Flavor rank: #2
The gimmick/message: As if a big claw has scratched through the can. It’s big and bad, like monster trucks; tagline is “unleash the beast” (keep the road rage to a minimum, please). This drink will scare you awake.
Look like: bloody, red, cola-esque
Smells like: sweet, cough syrup, fruit punch
Tastes like: cherry soda, “Red Bull meets Welch’s strawberry juice”
Flavor rank: #3
The gimmick/message: Bulls charge—and so will you if you drink this. The iconic blue-red-gray can requires no allusions to ferocious animals or macho posturing, though the brand often sponsors extreme sports events.
Look like: pee, golden, yellow-orange
Smells like: “Sweet Tarts,” vanilla
Tastes like: Judges said it tasted “like Red Bull” and “classic”—uncreative testament to its popularity (it’s the most popular energy drink brand).
Flavor rank: #4
PowerBall Energized Juice (Acai Berry)
The gimmick/message: By powerball, they mean dyn-o-mite glittering disco ball, which sort of looks like a tornado. Acai has been marketed as an antioxidant, penis enlarger, and sex-drive booster. None of this has been clinically proven (we're working on it).
Looks like: Purple, Dimetapp
Smells like: Apple juice with a hint of yogurt.
Tastes like: Oddly flat liquid version of grape-cherry-prune juice or Pixy Stix.
Flavor rank: #5
The gimmick/message: The “SL” sits above the “AP” forcing thirsty people to stitch the four-letter word together in their minds—the “frost” is buried in a corner—and potentially leading dyslexics to think they’re consuming “SALP.” The idea might be: This’ll slap your senses into high gear. The supposed menthol effect was lost on several judges.
Look like: Nearly clear.
Smells like: creamsickle, cream soda, “a woman’s bathroom”
Tastes like: throat-coating carbonated drink with hints of “Novocain” and “winter time” in the finish.
Flavor rank: #6
Liquid Ice (Sugar Free)
The gimmick/message: You know how good ice feels on a hot day? This energizes your body like that—only it’s blue. Note: Version tasted was sugar free.
Looks like: It’s blue! “Like windshield wiper fluid!” (or “Smurf pee”)
Smells like: popsicles, Gatorade, watermelon
Tastes like: “Chewable vitamins,” Hawaiian Punch
Flavor rank: #7
The gimmick/message: Rock'n'roll, you’re a star baby! Drink this and head bang or get ready to par-tay! It’s Boogie Nights in a bottle!
Looks like: Miller Light.
Smells like: Kool-Aid, fruity, cotton candy.
Tastes like: Cough syrup meets cream soda.
Flavor rank: #8
Xtra Energy Shot (Grape)
The gimmick/message: It’s so packed with energy you need not consume more than a thimble’s worth. Or maybe: Hey, there’s so little to drink, who cares what it tastes like?
Looks like: Light purple
Smells like: Grape soda
Tastes like: Grape soda
Flavor rank: #9