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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Loko loco

I'm not sure I quite understand the hysteria over Four Loko. Four states have banned the caffeinated malt beverage, and the Chicago-based manufacturer has bowed to pressure and agreed to stop shipping it to New York. And in Indiana, beverage retailers are trying to get out in front of lawmakers:

In cool packaging that resembles an energy drink, adults fear the beverages promote overconsumption especially on college campuses. Nicknamed, "Blackout in a Can" on some campuses, a recent incident where nine Central Washington University students were hospitalized after a party where they consumed Four Loko is reason for alarm.

[. . .]

The liquor store association says the beverages, which retail for $2 to $4 and also sell under the Joose name, have been selling well. But the group is calling for a ban in Indiana, citing concerns that the drinks can encourage overconsumption because the caffeine can block the effect of the alcohol.

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, which represents about 500 package liquor stores -- wants liquor stores to voluntarily remove the products from shelves.

Does a product that contains less alcohol than a bottle of wine and about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee really deserve the "blackout in a can" sobriquet? As the Reason article points out, "Every alcoholic beverage is 'potentially hazardous,' and none will ever be proven 'safe,' if by that Rosen means risk-free. But there's no question that a can of Four Loko . . . can be consumed without serious adverse effects. If every alcoholic beverage had to pass the reckless college student test, they all would be banned."


Tue, 11/16/2010 - 4:53pm

The ban is just silly. How is this drink different from an Irish coffee, available at any bar? Oh yeah, it has less alcohol.

Lewis Allen
Wed, 11/17/2010 - 7:38am

I'm so disappointed in college kids these days. Sure, it's understandable to need caffeine to study, but to drink? Isn't the alcohol pleasant enough on its own?

Bob G.
Wed, 11/17/2010 - 9:53am

I am never one to buy into the "hype" surrounding most anything ...and certainly NOT these "energy" drinks.
To me, they're all about making reckless people even MORE reckless.
It's all about demographic marketing...
It should be about MODERATON...and responsible behavior. (who knew?)
I prefer to have my caffeine and alcohol the "old-fashioned" way...by adding bourbon or scotch to my coffee.
(and never driving after doing so)

Wed, 11/17/2010 - 11:45pm

I admire your attitude Bob, but let me recommend Irish Whisky for your coffee. The combination's a little rough -- it's even worse coming back up, as it inevitably will -- but it's more authentic. Why do you think we Irishmen always look like hell?
Shortly after Ray Charles' death, I read that the mug he often kept on his piano was filled with a mixture of sugary coffee and gin. That's just wrong. But we now know where he got that gravelly voice.

Leo Morris
Thu, 11/18/2010 - 11:07am

True connoisseurs know that the best time to combine the tastes of coffee and alcohol is after a fine meal, and the two should be sipped alternately, never mixed. The best drinks to have with that postprandial cuppa are B&B (and mixed by the drinker; the prepackaged stuff is a little too heavy on the Benedictine and too light on the brandy) or a Paris on Fire (in some places called Paris Is Burning), 2 ounces of cognac mixed with 1/2 ounce of Chambord or other raspberry-flavored liqueur, and heated in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.