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Save Sparks Red!

Sure, kids may like it, but about kids at heart?

The latest canned, alcoholic, caffeinated beverage from MillerCoors*, Sparks Red, is under attack. Why? Because they claim a drink that stimulates while it intoxicates is a big problem once you make the leap from 7% alcohol by volume to 8%. That, apparently, is a magical cut-off where college students decide they can jump moving cars or receive nasty skin burns after assaulting hot apple pies.**

A few beers beverages that are, apparently, less dangerous include:

Sam Adams Triple Bock – 17.5
Third Coast Old Ale – 10.2
Expedition Stout – 10
Double Bastard Ale – 10
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot – 9.9
Stone Old Guardian – 9.9
Old Dipsea Barleywine – 9
Old Knucklehead – 8.9
Sam Adams Double Bock – 8.5

And Modern Drunkard (a fine publication) points out that many malt liquor drinks are also over 8% ABV.

Of course, beer doesn’t offer the “dangerous” 1-2 punch of alcohol + energy drink. So that must be safer, right?

The Reeses Defense

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
Photo by ohdearbarb

If I worked for MillerCoors, I’d pull out the Reeses Defense. Just because you combine two awesome things to create something even more awesome doesn’t make you a criminal.

Additionally, what’s stopping people from doing this on their own? Ever heard of this:

Red Bull & Vodka
Photo by markhillary

Here’s the crazy part: It would be cheaper for college students to make their own knock-off Sparks Red using Red Bull plus some crappy vodka. And what do you think are the chances that a college student would pour a stiffer drink than what Sparks puts in a can?

Any is it really that different from rum & Coke?

The Actual Study

Enough anecdotal stuff. This whole thing got some legs after a group called the Center for Science in the Public Interest latched onto a study by Wake Forest (pdf) that “studied” the effects of alcoholic energy drinks.

Here is the introduction to the study:

Limited research suggests that energy drink ingestion lessens subjective suggests that energy drink ingestion lessens subjective intoxication in persons who also have consumed alcohol.

So they haven’t researched this much.

And who consumed these drinks:

Students who were male, White, intramural intramural athletes, Greek society members or pledges, and younger were significantly more likely to consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks.

Date raping frat boys, of course.

This study used cross sectional data, which limits our ability to assess causal relationships. In addition, the relationships between consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks, and high-risk drinking, and alcohol related consequences may be result of selection effects; specifically, sensation seeking individuals may be drawn to energy drinks, heavy alcohol consumption, and risky behaviors.

So there you have it. We all have to suffer because data raping frat boys happen to like Sparks.

By the way, Minnesota’s Attorney General, Lori Swanson, is not one of the 25 attorney generals who’ve jumped onto this questionable bandwagon. Here is a map of the states that hate canned alcoholic energy:

* Creative name, guys.

** Don’t try either of these things. Trust me.

Date-Raping Frat Boys Oppose Lowering Drinking Age

I haven’t seen a press release from the Date-Raping Frat Boys of America yet, but I have to assume that they would be in opposition to the proposal to lower the drinking age in America from 21 to 18 years old.

It’s so obvious.

Control: Clearly, it’s easier to roofie a co-ed in the controlled environment of a house party.

Cost: If 18-20 year old co-eds hang out at bars rather than house parties, the cost of getting them drunk will skyrocket. I don’t care if it’s 2 for 1’s or lady’s night, the cost per drunk girl goes WAY up when you switch from kegs or store bought alcohol.

Convenience: The opportunities for cock-blocking by less-drunk friends increase dramatically if you have to get your prey home rather than just up the stairs.

This is essentially a tax on date-raping frat boys.

Becoming a Good Drinking Host

Bill Marsano penned a “Mixed Reviews” column for the May 2008 issue of Hemispheres Magazine (United Airline’s in-flight mag) where he argues that party hosts should be putting more effort into providing better quality mixed drinks to their guests.

He quotes a colleague on this issue, Eric Felten, who’s written a book on drinking called How’s Your Drink? – Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well:

Being a host requires showmanship as well as generosity, so you do you best and pour your best. Many Americans now recognize that making good meals entails preparation and real effort, but don’t realize their drinks do, too. That’s too bad, because at home it’s really a struggle to match restaurant-quality food, but it’s a breeze to make better drinks than are served at many bars.

Marsano goes on to provide a few tips on how to improve in your roll as a “bar chef” by throwing out months old tonic, picking fresh lemons for Tom Collins’, and using ultra-fine sugar as a sweetener rather than undissolvable table sugar in cold drinks. Small things than can make exponential improvements to drinks.

He also has tips on how to make your own ginger ale, tonic water, and maraschino cherries for the true enthusiasts.

What do you think about this? Is it worth the effort to take the craft of mixology at this level? How insulting is it to make someone a drink from a dusty bottle of TGI Friday’s Mudslide mix? Stick to beer; you’re in the clear?

Felton also writes a column by the same name for the Wall Street Journal and can be seen in action through videos online including this one on the Original Intent Martini where sweet gin and vermouth are used:

After watching that video I have to ask, “How does one get Paul Lin’s job?”

Minneapolis’ Answer to Hold your Wee for a Wii

This sounds irresponsible:

Nightwatch notes: Iron bladder contest

On this great holiday of exuberant drinking, the Nomad World Pub is once again putting up a challenge to every beer lover’s worst enemy: your bladder. Starting at noon on Saturday, the first 200 people in the door can drink as much free green-colored beer as they want — until someone pees. Past challenges have lasted more than three hours. (Noon Sat., 501 Cedar Av. S., Mpls. Free. 612-338-6424.)

I hope nobody dies.

Top-7 Minneapolis Restaurant Blogs

If you’re looking or ideas on Minneapolis restaurants to check out, here are seven blogs that may offer some good tips for ya:

  • Chef Andrew Zimmern – generally focuses on top restaurants, chefs, and Minneapolis restaurant politics. Great place to find places when someone else is paying.
  • – If beer is the main course, or something that has to be considered in your dining choice, look no further than MNBeer, who offers up to date news on what beers have been released to the public at local brew pubs.
  • The Bloated Belly – TBB covers a large variety of local restaurants. Or, as TBB puts it, offers, “Comments on Consumption”
  • Aaron Landry – Aaron photo blogs visits to local restaurants using his Hiptop at If you want to see arm wrestling at the Town Talk or the view from the Clicquot Club, Aaron’s your guy.
  • Girl Friday – Girl Friday covers local watering holes and a whole lot more. Check out the drinking category for her latest takes on . . . um . . . drinking.
  • – The most extensive published research on Jucy Lucy’s to date. Definitely worth a visit before heading out for your next Lucy.
  • Gin & Phonics – A little lean on the restaurant scene to date, but I had to include them solely on their coverage of Jucy Lucy’s at the NE Palace. I hope that post is the sign of more great research to come.

And while not a blog, it’s worth mentioning Thrifty Hipster, where you can find happy hour deals for any hour of the day.

What am I missing?