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Be FOURwarned

New caffeine-and-alcohol concoction isn't risk-free

 by Bittina Erickson-Larson
 published on Thursday, September 14, 2006


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It's the wee hours of the morning at the club, and the not-so-sweet "Jaeger bombs," a combination of Red Bull and Jaegermeister, are wearing off.

That's where Four comes in.

Four, a new addition to the world of alcoholic drinks, made its debut in the Valley on Aug. 14. This berry-flavored alcoholic energy cocktail contains wormwood, one of the ingredients in Absinthe, an alcoholic beverage that's illegal in the U.S. Even though wormwood isn't harmful, some health officials say that Four's alcohol and energy drink combination can potentially be dangerous.

ASU Wellness and Health Promotion health educator David Bower says mixing alcohol and energy drinks can pose health hazards because of the respective depressing and stimulating effects the two ingredients have.

"The energy drink is going to help mask how intoxicated a person is because they won't feel the fatigue that is common with heavy drinking," Bower says. "Once this wears off, their blood-alcohol content is still going to be the same."

Bower says students have told him that when they mix energy drinks with alcohol, they don't feel as impaired.

"I tell them to be cautious because when the caffeine or whatever else wears off, they might be more intoxicated than they intended," he says.

Tom Healy, brand manager for Four, says proper medical warnings are displayed on the can, and Four complies with all governmental regulations.

"Like any alcoholic beverage, responsibility must be taken by the consumer when drinking the product," Healy says.

AJ Montes, an ASU graduate and former intern for Kronik Energy, (a Phoenix-based extreme-sports-oriented energy drink) says there is a major trend when it comes to alcohol and energy drinks.

"There's the infamous Red Bull and vodka, which you can find at almost any bar," he says. Montes adds that energy-drink companies are smart for targeting party-goers to increase sales.

But Bower says it's the party-going crowd that can be most at risk for alcoholic energy drinks' negative effects. He says that they can cause people to stay alert and drink longer, but because alcohol and energy drinks are both dehydrating, the person drinking them can wake up with a worse hangover.

"My advice is just to be careful and don't overdo it," Bower says.

But with Four available at dozens of locations, (including mini-marts like the one on the corner of University Drive and McClintock Road), Healy is confident that the ASU reaction to Four will be positive.

"Four is going to blow up in Tempe," he says. "People are going to love it because it is so different than all of the other energy drinks out there."

Reach the reporter at: bittina.erickson-larson@asu.edu.



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