Drinking Red Bull and Vodka Just Makes You Want More Red Bull and Vodka, Study Finds

I have never understood the appeal of Red Bull and vodka. This is probably because I think Red Bull tastes gross, no matter how much booze you mix it with. But hey, it looks like my aversion to this questionable cocktail is justified, because a new study just found that consuming vodka mixed with energy drinks makes you want to keep drinking — which, as you can imagine, is bad news if you want to avoid becoming a binge drinker.

The Australian study, which was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, examined a group of 75 participants between the ages of 18 and 30 with regards to the effects of mixing alcohol with energy drinks. Everyone consumed 60 ml of Smirnoff vodka; one group, however, had their booze mixed with a Red Bull Silver Edition drink, while the other mixed it with soda water. Both cocktails also had a pineapple-coconut fruit drink added to them, though, to mask which was which. The participants all completed Alcohol Urge Questionnaires both 20 minutes prior to consuming their cocktails and 20 minutes afterwards to measure how strong their desire was to keep drinking. Here’s what the researchers found:

  • The people who drank the Red Bull and vodka mix had a greater increase in the urge to keep drinking than the soda water and vodka folk.
  • Red Bull drinkers also liked their cocktail more and wanted to drink more of it.
  • Weirdly, the Red Bull drinkers had, on average, a lower breath alcohol concentration; the researchers theorize that it had something to do with the sugary additives and carbs the energy drink has.

Of course, it’s worth noting that at 75 participants, the study features an incredibly small sample size; as such, we can’t really extrapolate too broadly from its results. It does, however, open the door for future research, hopefully using more participants, to paint a clearer picture of what happens to our bodies when we combine high amounts of caffeine and alcohol. As study co-author Rebecca McKetin remarked, “Our findings suggest that energy drinks may increase people drinking to intoxication, and consequently increase the risk of alcohol-related problems like drunk-driving and alcohol-fuelled violence. One study alone does not provide enough evidence to advocate for restrictions on the availability of energy drinks in bars, but it is an important step.”

I also think it might start to explain the whole Four Loko debacle from a few years back: If combining caffeine and booze makes you want to drink more, and if it gets harder to cut yourself off the drunker you get… well, the original formula of Four Loko is that phenomenon in a can. Reasons not to mess yourself up with all those weird alcohol trends, right?

Images: Giphy