Joose It Up! (While You Can!)


The Food and Drug Administration is threatening to ban alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine, saying the combination has not been proven safe. No kidding. Since no one thinks that adding caffeine to alcohol eliminates the latter's inherent hazards, it seems unlikely that manufacturers will be able to satisfy the FDA's demand for "clear evidence of safety." Within 30 days, no less. So it looks like the end of the line for products like Joose, which combines a malt beverage containing about 10 percent alcohol with ingredients typically found in energy drinks, such as caffeine, ginseng, and taurine. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors already have stopped selling similar products (Tilt and Sparks, respectively) under pressure from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other busybodies.

The critics argue that adding caffeine to alcohol makes people underestimate their drunkenness. They cite a 2007 survey by researchers at Wake Forest University that found college students who consumed cocktails based on energy drinks such as Red Bull were twice as likely as other drinkers to be injured in accidents, to ride with intoxicated drivers, and to get involved in regrettable sexual incidents. It's possible, of course, that such associations can be explained by the characteristics of young drinkers who favor trendy concoctions such as the Annihilator and the Apple Pucker Mother Fucker, as opposed to the special dangers of combining alcohol with caffeine.

In any event, the FDA has no power to stop the mixing of such politically incorrect cocktails, or to bar the preparation of scary innovations like "Irish" coffee or Rum and Coke (street name: Cuba Libre). All it can do is make an empty gesture by arbitrarily banning the newer (and therefore presumptively more dangerous) drinks, which offend professional meddlers less because of their pharmacological action than because of their producers' brazen speech.