The Problem With Energy Drinks As A Mixer

(Editor's note: Dan will be talking about the following post and more today, June 14th, on his radio show, Happy Hour. Dan's guest will be Midnight Run and Bad Boys screenwriter George Gallo. Tune in to SiriusXM's Stars Too, channel 104, from 7-8 pm ET. The listener call-in line is 888-996-2946)

Throughout most of what I'd categorize as a semi-respectable Drinking Life, I've called bullshit on the commingling of spirits such as vodka with Red Bull and other energy drinks. After all, alcohol is a depressant; Red Bull is toxic waste (with wings!). They represent opposite ends of the potables spectrum. These are substances that were simply never intended to go together. It's like mixing matter and antimatter on Star Trek, or having Denise Richards play a nuclear physicist in a Bond movie.

Note that I said I've been negatively inclined towards energy drink cocktails for most of my life. There was this one time back in the mid-aughts when I momentarily, shamefully, reconsidered my position.

I was at a party at the Sundance Film Festival sitting at the bar alongside the actor Jeremy Sisto. Now, it may have been the altitude or a burgeoning man-crush, but when Sisto ordered a Smirnoff and Red Bull – DIET Red Bull, no less – instead of rolling my eyes and cracking wise, I inexplicably found myself uttering the words, "I'll have one of those, too." What can I say? I was a big fan of the guy's work on Six Feet Under.

We clinked glasses and Jeremy joked about having to watch his figure and I laughed, probably a little too loudly. A couple of hot chicks smiled at us. So I raised my vodka and diet Red Bull in a mock toast to them (hoping from that distance it looked like bourbon), and they giggled and waved. I turned back toward Jeremy because I wanted the hotties to think he was my friend... but he was gone. So, too, was any chance I had at getting laid by celeb-association.

The lesson I learned that night is that Jeremy Sisto is the kind of inconstant Hollywood weasel who would abandon a dear friend he had known for over four minutes just so he can talk to Clint Eastwood...well, that, and that you should never betray your core alcoholic values, no matter how badly you want to have sex with C-list groupies. Energy drinks are the Ed Hardy t-shirts of cocktail mixers. Always have been. Always will be.

However, it's possible you're still on the fence about this. If you need them, here are six more reasons you and those around you should never, ever stoop to imbibing energy drinks:

1. History should count for something. We live in a fast-paced world in which timeworn customs are too often callously tossed aside like references to obscure Bond-movie characters. But a good Night On The Town remains one of the last bastions of traditionalism — we get dressed up, we go out, we get wasted, and we make incredibly poor decisions that often result in restraining orders if we're lucky (and ruinous private school tuition for unwanted children if we're not). So if you're in dire need of a pick-you-up, for the love of pre-rehab Robert Downey Jr., show some respect for the train wrecks that have come before you. Just remember that while you give money to giant multinational corporations that are raping the planet, some poor dealer is just trying to feed his family. So get that unnatural jolt to your central nervous system the old fashioned way — from low-grade blow.

2. Energy drinks taste like ass. And not Kim Kardashian-type ass, either.

3. Things could get messy. With steroids, blow and copious amounts of Axe Body Spray already in the mix, that Red Bull and vodka just might be the thing that causes Johnny Fratboy's heart to explode, which in and of itself isn't so bad. But then again, who the hell wants to clean up 250 pounds of tribal-tattooed asshole off the floor of a nightclub?

4. The Lewinsky Effect. It's embarrassing enough that most of these energy drinks are the color of a Saturday morning cartoon character but, dude, just think about what could happen once the alcohol commences playing its twisted little games with your motor skills. You spill that Technicolor cocktail, and you might never get the stain off your skirt.

5. Did I mention they taste like ass?

6. You could enjoy a "hippie speedball" instead (espresso and weed).

Ask yourself this: Would a classic tough guy like, say, Richard Burton have ever ordered a goddamn vodka and Red Bull? Not if he wanted to continue shagging Liz Taylor he wouldn't. Hell, I doubt Richard Simmons would even go there.

But, look, if you simply can't help yourself, go with one of those 64-calorie beers they're relentlessly marketing to the relentlessly shallow... get it in a mug, so you can at least pretend you've got a pair (try not to extend your pinky finger while drinking). Or if you want to butch it up a bit, try this:

Restless Native


2 shots vodka

2 shots Bailey's

2 shots espresso


Shake over ice and serve up. The espresso and vodka marry surprisingly well, and the combo takes the sweet out of the Bailey's, so it doesn't cloy at all.

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