It’s Part 1 of the Mark Hanratty Energy Drink Review Blog!
Criss-crossing the country going to and from comedy clubs may seem like fun folks, but get this; sometimes, it can make you really, really sleepies. This is alright when driving on motorways, as there are little rumble strips painted onto the line marking at the side of the road so you can have forty winks while driving and the rrr-rrr-rrrr sound of the car leaving the road will wake you up in plenty of time to steer back into the centre of the road (citation needed). But when driving smaller roads and through cities, you need your full concentration… failing that, a stomach full of stimulants will see you right.
Now my weapon of choice is coffee; lots of it, straight from plantation to Topaz to my belly. In general, I don’t trust dairy produce so I drink my coffee black, with no sugar, because there’s no sense in trying to enjoy things too much. A lot of places now sell Fairtrade coffee, to help give developing countries a leg-up, but frankly as long as it keeps my awake on the road to Cork, I don’t give a fuck if my coffee is made with boiled tears and has childrens fingernails in it.
But for those that don’t like coffee, what are the options? Energy drinks, of course! These serve two purposes; keeping you awake on the journey to gigs, and mixing with the natural adreneline of performing to make you really hyper on stage, so people think to themselves either A) He’s got great energy and stage presence or B) He’s coked out of his gourd. But with so many energy drinks on the market, how can the average comedian steer through this heart-rotting pisstasting minefield? Why, by reading the Mark Hanratty Energy Review Blog!
Champion Absurder and energy drink connoisseur Mark will be guiding us through the maze of taurine laced beverages, to help you all release your inner babbling mess and cure once and for all of that pesky need to sleep. Over to you, buddy!
Red Bull. Surely the king of energy drinks (or, if you disagree with the monarchy, the Taoiseach of energy drinks). It tastes good, smells good, keeps you awake when you need it, and is available everywhere. Truly, it is the staple diet of all frazzled students, and night workers, everywhere.
Red Bull is probably the best of all the energy drinks. It’s got a crisp, tart tang off it, with a strong, sweet aftertaste. There’s been many a time, when I’ve been out on the town, knocking back a few Bulls (cool kids just call them Bulls), and woken up the next morning, still with a Bull aftertaste in my mouth, and a keen sense of alertness. That’s value for money! When you’re tired, the ol’ Bull can really help you get through a day of work. It keeps you alert- you can almost feel the extra energy it gives you, coursing through your body. You do hear the occasional story about people dying because of the drink, but; who cares? Red Bull’s sweetness is one of its strongest points. It’s easy to drink. The sweetness is not sickly- it’s got a pleasant taste, but still has an element of sharpness to it. In fact, it’s fair to say it has a Calpol-like quality about it. For this reason, it’s very easy to drink several cans in a row without any effort. Red Bull became popular in the late 1990s (in this part of the world anyway), bringing the slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” to prominence. Unfortunately, the success of Red Bull has led to a slew of imitation drinks. Often in a bar, when you ask for a Red Bull, you will be given one of these imitations. Do not accept them. If the barman counters with “Sure, it’s the same thing”, politely explain to him that it’s not. You wouldn’t pay for Cristal and be content with a bottle of Tesco champagne, would you?
If only Linda McCartney hadn’t died, and was still performing with Paul. A Red Bull- sponsoredtour would have been a marketing no-brainer, with the slogan “Red Bull gives you Wings”.
Red Bull is primarily sold in a 250ml can, although it is also available in a 355ml can also (these are less common). The 250ml can is something of a standard among energy drink; most adhere to it. Pubs sell bottled Red Bull, and supermarkets and off-licences have four-packs available. A sugar-free version is also on sale. General retail price is about €1.70 in a supermarket, but pubs and clubs can often ask you to fork out between €4 and €5 for it!
Boost is one of the knock-offs of Red Bull available. Dunnes Stores sell it. It’s a fair bit cheaper than Red Bull- 99c (the can’s artwork prominently displays this). Interestingly enough, it contains the exact same amount of caffeine (0.03%) and taurine (0.04%) as Red Bull itself. Talk about lack of originality!
It describes itself as a “carbonated mixed fruit flavour drink with taurine and caffeine”. It’s not clear what fruit it’s supposed to taste like, though; the can’s ingredients give no clue, and there’s no discernable fruit it tastes like. Unless you count Red Bull as a fruit. Upon first sip, it does taste remarkably like Red Bull. So much so, that if you gave Stevie Wonder a can of each, he’d be hard pressed to tell you which was which.
Unlike Shark, an energy drink which is similar to Red Bull but has more of a syrupy, diluted taste about it, Boost seems to be attempting to synthesise the taste of the Bull spot-on. However, whereas Red Bull can be pleasant to drink for several cans, Boost’s biggest fault is its’ consistancy. It gives you a sickly sweet aftertaste, as the sharpness that makes Red Bull so drinkable is absent. Getting through an entire can is nauseating; it can make you feel queasy to drink too much of it. It does the same job as an RB, with the same amount of taurine and caffeine in it. Your nervous system may not know the difference, but your taste buds will.
Boost is available in a 250ml can, as well as 500ml and 1 litre bottles. The advantage to this is that Boost is re-sealable, wheras Red Bull is not. The bottles are made of non-transparent plastic, giving no clue as to the colour of the contents. I would not be surprised if this was a conscious decision on Boost’s part, to aid teenagers mixing vodka with energy drinks. It does lend itself very well to knacker-drinking, as it’s simple to pour a little vodka into your bottle, and pass it around. It also has a fantastic website- http://www.boostdrinks.com.
A completely different beast altogether is Monster Energy. First off, it comes in a big fuck-off 500ml can- the same size as a can of Dutch Gold. It comes in several varieties, of which I chose “Ripper”. An odd title for the drink- it gives no hint as to what the drink may actually taste like. It’s got perhaps something of a sense of grandeur about it- the side of the can claims that “the magical smells in the air driving to the Monster Energy Pipeline Pro Surf competition on the North Shore of Oaku was our inspiration for new Monster Ripper”. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t stop the drink tasting like piss.
Monster Ripper differs from many of the energy drinks, in that it is not attempting to emulate Red Bull at all. It has a very fruity taste off it- a mixture of apple, passion fruit, pineapple and guava(?). The can also pimps out the fact that the drink has ginseng and taurine.
Monster Ripper differs from Boost in the fact that while Boost is pleasant for the first few gulps, Monster Ripper is disgusting straight from the get-go. Upon first sip, my eyes wanted to pop out of my head, Tex Avery-style.
It has an incredible taste of cheap Poundshop bubble gum off it. It’s bitter, and leaves a lingering taste after that you’ll be spitting out of your mouth for a long time. How anybody manages to skull 500ml of this stuff is beyond me. Faced with the choice of falling asleep during work or drinking a can of this stuff to stay awake, I’ll take a nap on the job any day.
Monster Ripper is clearly targeting a male audience. Check their website, http://www.monsterenergy.com, that has sections dedicated to babes and fast cars…
After all those energy drinks, I am going to find it hard to sleep tonight. What will also keep me awake, is the thought of the dentist bills I have no doubt incurred thanks to the high sugar content of all the drinks…
Woah, hold on there Mark, we’ve a hell of a lot more energy drinks to review, and a lot more travelling comedians with heart tissue that needs corroding. We’ll be putting Marks insulin levels to the test again later in the year, until then you can catch him performing with improv group The Absurders or as a great stand-up act on his own, in clubs across the country.