Apparently the FDA is covering their butts by insisting that their warnings about “caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CAB)” are not directed at “alcoholic beverages that only contain caffeine as a natural constituent of one or more of their ingredients, such as a coffee flavoring.” Because their friends drink kahlua and Irish coffee and Long Island iced tea.
So if you were selling Long Island iced tea in a can, that’s okay. Or if you concentrated down enough mate or coffee or cocoa to take your head off with caffeine and mixed it with Everclear, that would just be a completely natural indigenous flavoring. But Four Loko, now, that’s scary dangerous. Sheesh.
Personally, I think “malt beverages” are disgusting and nasty, and adding caffeine doesn’t help. But people drink all kinds of disgusting crud that’s perfectly legal; and we don’t blame the existence of Strawberry Surprise if they keel over and die. We blame their own stupidity.
This essay points out that people who go to expensive cocktail bars drink a heckuva lot of Red Bull and vodka mixed together, which not only sounds a lot more lethal and disgusting, but is apparently making a lot more money off wideawake drunks than some silly canned thing. But nobody is banning that.
As for Four Loko’s nickname of “Blackout in a Can”, apparently this is the sort of nickname approved by people who routinely drink way too many shots or jello shots. They are idiots who don’t appreciate the real joys of alcohol with taste, but it’s legal to throw down drinks and not remember much in the morning. Goodness know that the respectable ladies at work even do such things on special occasions, so it’s a bit hard to tell legal-drinking-age college kids that their jokes about blackouts get their stuff banned, but ladies their mom’s age doing the same thing are good and pure. More oppressive, fascistic idiocy we don’t need.
Other popular alcohol/caffeine blends: Rum and coke; red wine and coke; mate and red wine; Kahlua (though that’s about as caffeinated as tea) and all its offspring, like White Russians; Bailey’s Irish Cream and all other chocolate-flavored drinks; Irish coffee; all those bits in old novels where somebody puts a nip of brandy into somebody’s tea. This elegant drink called “The Awakening”. Fernet-Branca and cola, or any other liqueur and coffee. And so on.