Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

How To Drink Four Loko (Sort of) Responsibly

Over the past month, college campuses have started to ban or otherwise reduce availability of the increasingly popular Four Loko. The combination stimulant and depressant has led to hospitalizations amongst college-aged binge drinkers. But for mature fun-seekers, the drink isn't just for rappers any more: it can be a cost-effective way to feel the euphoric effects of far more expensive drugs in the midst of this Great Recession.

On Friday night, after discovering that the Barcade in L.A.'s Koreatown is unrelated to the one in Williamsburg, we sat down at a diner to eat french fries and drink more beers. As I was making poor ordering decisions (stay away from the BBQ beef sandwich), my friend Cate mentioned that she enjoyed the “Premium Malt Beverage with Artificial Flavors • Guarana • Taurine • Caffeine and FD&C Red #40.”

My girlfriend Nicole mentioned that I was also familiar with the drink. She recounted the story of her first week in grad school, wherein I solo’dly drank a Fruit Punch flavored Four Loko and accompanied her to a laid-back party. At some point in the evening the party became entirely silent. I had screamed, “I HATE YOU MOM, WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS TO ME!"

If my girlfriend were any less cool, that antic may have resulted in the termination of our relationship, but luckily she thought it was funny. She also knew that my craziness was the direct result of the 23.5 fluid ounces of the heavily caffeinated 12.0% alcohol elixir.

That wasn’t the only time I’d experimented with the drink. This summer, I went to a metal show at a party store under the JMZ in Bushwick. I drank Lokos with my loco friend who’d previously invented the 32 Ounce Dunkin’ Donut’s Irish Coffee. (Combine one large Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee with a a pint of Irish Whiskey and a hint of Bailey’s.)

After that Four Loko encounter, we walked around Brooklyn sloppily drunk but surprisingly coherent. I remember going to a Mexican bar that turned into an underground strip club, and that later it took me 25 minutes to unlock the front door to the apartment. The morning after I felt like I was coming down from drugs. Because, I was coming down from drugs. (Four Lokos = drugs.) That day I patronized several toilets at two Whole Foods locations in Manhattan.

I might be crazy but I like Four Loko. Mostly because I think that knowingly ingesting something that makes you “feel like shit” is totally funny.

So, at that restaurant in L.A., the people at the table agreed that we should all drink Lokos together. “Four Loko Con” had officially been organized. It would take place the following night, and would be strictly BYOFL.

* * *

En route to the Four Loko Convention, we stopped at a liquor store that had run out of the drink, but did sell Nicole’s favorite cookies from Guatemala. We continued to the liquor store on Sunset and Silverlake, the one that a popular buzzband named themselves after. We bought the store's three remaining Four Lokos, all "watermelon" flavored.

Armed with our flavored-brewskis, we walked the rest of the journey discussing our fears at how the beverage might affect us.

The crew from the previous night was already assembled. The host finished watching Billy Elliot while making an appropriate mixtape for FourLokoCon.

We joined the organizing committee at the dinner table and discovered that the Watermelon flavor was surprisingly tasty. Charley offered us straws. Straws don't work. I lost four inside the container before I opted to just sip from the can.

We talked “Loko math.” If a Four Loko contains 23.5 ounces and is 12% alcohol, how many drinks is one Loko?

I supposed that one Loko was “equivalent to 1.5 beers and a Red Bull.” The experts back in Bushwick responded online with a better formula:

one Loko is Lk=[(%ABV)(oz)]/.705
the energy is factored in as 'magic'.

So a ‘Loko’ is a reasonable unit of measure which should be used to objectively analyze an evening’s fun.

That night I would have 6 Lokos worth of fun.

* * *

More people arrived. They’d bought out the grocery store’s entire supply of Four Loko.

Everyone got a little thizz-faced. First impressions of the drink were described as “this tastes like cleaning product and Jolly Rancher.”

The convention reached quorum and my memory started to become hazy.

Someone said “Josh looks like he entered another dimension.” Later, Facebook albums would reveal this to be true.

While I was dancing, I took note of other's reactions. Joel’s face became flush and he announced that he’d won the “Hapa redness competition.” Laysa belted out freestyles. Nicole fell onto the floor laughing. Andrea taught me about macroeconomics. Mike made fun of Nicole’s Guatemalan cookies. Girls started tackling boys. People kibbitzed about the future of news, and the role of race in the arts. Someone cried, then proceeded to breakdance. Halloween candy was thrown into the air. Everyone was singing. It probably looked like some Ken Kesey-ian Acid Test.

Nicole and I left to check out a party across the street. We didn’t know anyone there but we managed to eat a platter of crackers. Nicole wanted to take their container of hummus, but I was convinced that the guy who’d just walked in was planning to kick my ass, and I decided that we needed to leave immediately.

Back at FourLokoCon HQ, a girl started to gnaw on my beard while simultaneously attempting to bite my girlfriend’s nipple. People were being dragged home. The party started to dissipate. We found a ride. I walked into my house, and passed out on the couch.

The next morning I woke up with no hangover, and no qualms about the night before. Photos were already on Facebook by 10 a.m. Consensus was in: everybody had fun at FourLokoCon. Everyone survived.

* * *

As a professional on the subject of flavored malt liquor, I have two points of advice:

1. Use the drink responsibly. The reports of hospitalization among college students is related to their overconsumption. Just because the drink is called Four Loko does not mean you should drink four of them (that’s 16 "Lokos" of fun, bro, and that is not fun.)

2. If you’re inspired to drink these dranks, do so ASAP. The signs seem clear: we’re probably going to be facing a national moratorium on Four Loko, reminiscent of the Great Sparks Purge of 2008. Drink them—with some caution—with friends at your own Four Loko conventions while you can. Or, maybe better: just save them as collectables for your grandchildren.

Joshua Heller is living large.

29 Comments / Post A Comment

Matt (#26)

Conan last nite was kinda meh but i still have high hopes for this season.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

I tried Four Loko for the first time last Saturday. I think it was the hysterical Puritan on Talk of the Nation that pushed me to try it – out of spite, mostly.

I got about a third of the way through the can and poured the rest on the ground. It was that bad. But damn, shit'll fuck your world up. I might get another one for the next tailgate.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Blue Raspberry = KU
Grape = K-State
Lemonade = Mizzou
Fruit Punch = Chefs
Mix'em all together = Raiders

Justin Shoemaker (#7,238)

I love it. I live in KC, you made me chuckle a bit.

Aatom (#74)

I prefer my liquor less ironic and my drugs less liquid.

iantenna (#5,160)

hey, be nice to ether. that shit is fun.

iantenna (#5,160)

i'm sticking with the california speedball.

"Four Loko has caffeine in it? Then why did I fall asleep?"
- [ anonymous ]

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Blame it on the Witch Haus.

Bryan Keller (#3,804)

How do people get drunk in LA? Oh, yeah, drunk driving. Also, save up your pennies and get some coke. More authentic.

Andrew Piccone (#7,185)

This made me really want a Loko. Nice !!!

Harry Cheadle (#6,316)

One man's FourLokoCon is another man's "ordinary Tuesday night."

stuff_is_things (#6,108)

How many Lokos is in 4 cans of K Cider and a keybump of mephedrone?

stuff_is_things (#6,108)

Oops should've done the math (7.7 with the plant food factored in as 'magic')

samt253 (#8,498)

Finally somebody gets it. Four Loko is a great power. With great power comes great responsibility (and the ability to climb walls).

Crunk Juce [sic] watermelon is better than any Four Loko flavor. Joose raspberry lemonade is decent too, but I think the ginseng they add keeps me up a lot longer than any of the other drinks.

Would like really like to know how Four Loko stands up against Buckfast Tonic Wine.

gabba_gabba_hey (#6,046)

Word! Four Loko is almost Shaker-like in its simple goodness, and while it's not quite free, it's pretty damn close! (Actually, the whole hymn is a pretty good approximation of the Four Loko experience, with the turning, and the valley, etc.).

Most significantly, this simplifies my nights out. I used to have to make "party coffee" before leaving the house, which took at least five minutes and a lot of the beans (Aeropress muh'fucker), and then would also have to drink a lot, hopefully spending 3 or 4 dollars per drink, but often a lot more. Now, $2.89, or $3.00, or $3.50, depending on the friendliness of your local Loko purveyor, does it all in one!

Warning, though, inexperienced caffalcohol drinkers are likely to vom, so probably don't offer any to your friends.

John Badger (#8,502)

With great something something comes great responsibility.

You are absolutely correct as to quantity. A "Two Loco" is usually a wiser choice, especially for the uninitiated.

For my part, the last time I drank this stuff in public I told a mosher guy at a show "I think you should calm down!" Apparently this was the wrong thing to say at the wrong time, as duder wanted to fight me something fierce. Cooler heads prevailed (my gf to be exact, who has sworn off the stuff forever) and everything worked out.

That being said, I will drink it again, if only to remind me of Sparks' Golden Age. (The Orange flavor is nasty, but not necessarily nastiest.)

growler (#476)

You know you want to try it. But perhaps you're scared of going to "ethnic" neighborhoods to search? Prepare with this:


shudder (#5,913)

There's just no way in hell this is available in Canada, right?

We'll bring some with us. We weren't raised in a barn, you know.

shudder (#5,913)

wait. Are you offering to being ME some? Please?

"What's the word: Thunderbird. What's the price? A nickel twice"

myles (#8,276)

"I might be crazy but I like Four Loko. Mostly because I think that knowingly ingesting something that makes you “feel like shit” is totally funny."

Spot on.

DowntownDan (#8,885)

The new Four Loko hits shelves on December 13th. It may be a bigger disappointment than "Saved by the Bell" going off the air: http://bit.ly/dOa4jh

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