Energy Drinks (continued)
Glaceau Vitamin Energy (Tropical Citrus)
Tropical, but not really citrus, this elixer has more of a passion-fruit nose with a pineapple LifeSavers finish; fans of bubbly will be disappointed to learn that it was nearly devoid of carbonation. Glaceau eschews a mishmash of uppers in favor of "natural caffeine," B and C vitamins, taurine, and ribose (a simple sugar), with good results. The ensuing lift is mellow, with no sharp edges and no crash. Imagine the Fruit of the Loom guys singing in an old-timey barbershop quartet just behind your hypothalamus and you'll have the intensity gauged just about right.
Monster Lo-Carb Energy
I ducked and covered in the face of goofy Monster flavors such as Kaos, M-80, and Assault, opting instead for Lo-Carb, which has all the energy goodies but just 10 calories per serving. This variety tasted the most medicinal, with the bubble-gum tang I associate with guarana and a slightly artificial aftertaste. It got my front-side bus humming (without adding to my front-side bulk). With B vitamins and a vague energy blend of the usual suspects, this potion amps up the energy without impelling you to stake out your apartment in anticipation of the carb monsters' arrival.
Full Throttle Fury
Coca-Cola's entrant, Full Throttle, is an inferior product bolstered by the brand's shelf power. Fury, the variety I tried, was semipalatable at first, but it soon evolved into an orange-flavored sore throat. The fluid's weak energy boost may help explain why Coke doesn't detail the proportions of the various stim ingredients, instead referring to them as a "3,000mg blend" of caffeine, guarana, carnitine, taurine, ginseng, and sucrose (that's table sugar, folks). I drifted for hours in a limbo of faint nausea while waiting for my stomach to flip right-side up again. Infuriating.
Rockstar Juiced Pomegranate
By far the best-tasting energy drink in my roundup, Rockstar's Juiced may be one of the more healthful ones, too, since a pleasing blend of pear, apple and pomegranate juices accounts for 50 percent of its volume. It got my platters spinning with all of the standard-issue stimulants, plus such relatively exotic boosters as ginkgo biloba and milk thistle extract. The resulting lift was characterized by a calm clarity without nerviness or a sudden fall. With this stuff in my tank, I could imagine finding the White Pages a fascinating read. One word of advice, though: Don't dribble the inky, scarlet drink down the front of your favorite T-shirt.
Bawls G33k B33r
This r00t-b33r-themed guarana-and-caffeine drink has a medicinal edge that lasts beyond any of the more palatable flavors, but only the first and last sips are truly blech-alicious. Once taken internally it performs to spec, giving you a guarana-and-caffeine-fueled energy jolt that lasts a surprisingly long time. I drank mine for breakfast, and within 5 minutes I was preternaturally alert and awake. A couple of hours later, I could tell that all of my gears were still engaged--and without any of the tense jitters associated with most high-caffeine drinks. If you can get past the somewhat disgusting aftertaste, this drink will wake you up and giving you a bit of jitter-free focus. In fact, it will do so even if you can't get past the aftertaste.
This caffeine-free mix of choline, plant extracts, algae, and organic agave nectar doesn't taste too bad, and it doesn't get you all loopy and jittery on caffeine. The operating philosophy here is that, rather than flooding your system with misdirected, short-term energy, Brain Toniq helps you think. I don't know about that, but it tastes like a melange of passion fruit, watered-down Hawaiian Punch, and watermelon juice: flavorful up front, but ending with the consistency of left-open-for-a-day soda. The beverage helped me focus a bit. I didn't write complicated algorithms or make mind-blowing discoveries after drinking it, but it did chill me out. In fact, I felt restless before drinking Brain Toniq; but after consuming it, I felt content to hang out at home and write reviews.