1. Four Loko (ca. 2010)
It was a caffeinated malt liquor beverage flavored like a children’s after-school delight, with fruity sucrose heavy syrup and a touch of carbonation. Those elements paired with it’s tall-boy stature and $1.50 price tag made it immensely popular– but anyone who had two or more of these things had strange and unpredictable episodes of stealing, fighting, and other petty crime. It was ordered by the courts to remove the caffeine and people took to the stores in mass hysteria buying cases of the deadly tonic before it ran out.
2. The Mind Eraser (ca. 2008)
This doozy is a three layered Kahlua, Vodka, and Soda that is for companions to drink, with a soda straw, in a race to the bottom of the glass. To quote David Spade in PCU “nobody wins, because everyone’s a loser.” It lived up to it’s name and went down so painlessly, and with such ritual, that having 4 or 5 was common.
3. Sparx (ca. 2006)
The original caffeinated malt liquor beverage was the more tame of the two, quickly becoming a hit at dance parties. It mostly hot wired the brain and tricked you into liking Simian Mobile Disco.
Since it existed BI (Before Instagram), when photos were taken haphazardly, with blaring flash on a digital camera, there is a period in the geological record of FB photos known as the Sparx era– the drink left orange lips and outer-mouth on anyone who drank it without a straw; a trait which was colloquially known as Sparx Mouth. It tasted like orange soda that somebody had used to soak a thousand pennies.
4. Delirium Tremens (ca. 2005)
It was a $9 beer that suddenly was huge at dive bars. It was very hoppy, it was a little sour, and it made no sense– that is until you drank 3 of them, at which point an imbiber was left with the capacity to perform 3 social functions: dance, kiss, and fight. With every additional DT, the person would lose yet another function. We lost a lot of good men out there.
5. Rumple Minze (ca. 2005)
It was meant to be a digestif. Something peppermint flavored and syrupy to cap off a feast of sausage and potatoes and cabbage and whatever else Germans eat. It was supposed to be classy.
There was one problem: it was 100 proof and sold at every bar. It wasn’t long before service industry folk were toasting each other with this stuff and anyone who’s worked in a bar knows that drinking trends are born after last call. The rest is “geschichte.”
6. The Irish Car Bomb (ca. 2000)
It’s a Guinness. Nobody chugs a Guinness– except if you drop a shot of Baileys and a shot of Jameson into the pint glass, thus causing an eruption of chocolate beer milkshake that you better slam as fast possible, lest you be left with an undrinkable curdled slop. Like the mind eraser: this is a race, however the human gut can only hold a couple of these at most. More people have vomited nationwide from Car Bombs than have vomited from the Gravitron
7. Red Bull and Vodka (ca. 1999)
This impractical and quite gross beverage was indicative of it’s time. Before Red Bull, the only energy drink known to man was called Jolt Cola and it was basically for truckers and teens. But once this $3 small can of European seeming stuff came out, America grew wings and flew to the most obnoxious trance music lounges. For a while they would actually pour the Red Bull from a can and the whole affair cost upwards of $11 a pop in even the most layman of bars.
8. Gin and Juice (ca. 1993)
A rapper made a song about combining Tanguerey gin and orange juice. Everyone in America suddenly forgot that gin is for alcoholic aunts that close-talk you at Thanksgiving, and began drinking this stuff in excess. The noxious liquor is usually only tolerable in small amounts, but when masked by orange juice, the juniper flavored drink is suddenly potable by the gallon, and when paired with blunts of marijuana, it became a perfect recipe for late onset misogyny and white people dancing.
9. The Boiler Maker (ca. 1985)
One late afternoon, a working man named Skeet Trubelle ordered a shot and a beer. He had just left his ball breaking job, and stopped in for a drink, knowing he would only go home to a ball breaking wife. He sighed a long sigh and dropped the shot into the beer and drank the whole thing down. He felt, for a while, like a bad ass. This began the Boiler Maker, a shot of whiskey dropped into a brew and thrown back.
10. The Shot (ca. 1849)
During the California gold rush, prospectors began taking celebratory slugs of liquor whenever they discovered gold. The tradition carried over well into the 1850s and beyond to celebrate any occasion, or to commiserate over any tragedy, or to mark any milestone large or small. It is the first irresponsible fun drink.