Anticipating FDA intervention, the makers of Four Loko have taken pre-emptive action and announced they will drop three ingredients--caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Ah, but before the era ends, I had to taste the Loko. For socio-historic purposes. By chance, when friends and I got together last night, someone else had the same idea, so we tried two flavors: Lemon Lime and Blue Raspberry. A third can of Cranberry Lemonade will remain in my private collection.
I expected Four Loko to taste very sweet and artificial, like alcohol-spiked Kool-Aid. Bad, but in a familiar, semi-palatable way. Was I in for a surprise. First off, as you can see from the photo, Four Loko comes in vibrant, unnatural colors that recall cleaning agents. That's Blue Raspberry, and the Lemon Lime was nuclear green. The aromas are even more unnatural--and powerful. We cracked the Blue Raspberry first, and I was startled when the scent filled the room. It's sickly sweet, but also harbors a chemical undercurrent. The flavor of Blue Raspberry was similar--again, sickly sweet, like Kool Aid. Predictable. But there's a lot more going on, and all of it is bad. A chemical fizz that has the quality of burning.
It was stridently unpleasant, but as a drug-delivery system, not out of the ordinary. (I'd rather sip Four Loko than mess with needles.)
Then we turned to the Lemon Lime, which I assumed (again, incorrectly) would be more palatable. Citrus is both a relatively palatable synthetic flavor, and also good at covering up other flavors. Not in Four Loko, though. The smell was even stronger--and so unnatural that it triggered my lizard brain to mark it as a poison. The top note is Kool-Aid again, though more like a cheap, dollar-store brand. Then comes a toxic underlayment of Mr. Clean, tree car-freshener, and lime Jello all bound up by that acid-like fizz. Absolutely undrinkable.
I have no idea about the effect of Four Loko on the human body, because I had just a couple swallows of each "flavor." Younger and hardier people can test the product for those properties.
Verdict: magnificently unpalatable.