Known as a Vod-Bomb, Birch, or a ‘DVR’ (double vodka red bull), the newest drinking trend amongst the college and high school aged crowd is a cocktail made by mixing vodka and a highly caffeinated energy drink, typically Red Bull. It is popular among the 18-30 generation in bars and nightclubs around the world. In 2010, an FDA study resulted in a ban placed on several manufacturers of caffeine and alcohol drinks.

A drink by any other name

Red Bull and VodkaAn energy drink mixed with vodka may be known by several names. In some areas it is called an Vod-Bomb, DVR, Friday Flattener, Dirty Pompadour, “Eyeopener” or “Dagger”. On the East Coast of the United States, it is known as a “Birch” or when mixed with Peach Tree Schnapps, a “Birch Tree”. In the American Midwest it’s known as simply “Red Bull and Vodka”, “Vodka Bomb”, “V-Bull”. In Chicago, it’s known as a “Klenfield.” In South Texas and Mexico when mixed with vodka, especially of the Absolut brand, it is called Absolut Bullshit. It has also been called a “Raging Bull” in the Austin, Texas area. In some areas of Canada, it is known as a One-Armed Scissor. In other parts of the world it’s known as Cherry Bomb, Bull Blaster, U-Boot, Train Wreck, Depth Charge Bull’s Balls, Night Bandit, Crank Juice, Wavy Juice, TVR, VCR, Black Bull. Regardless of the name, the drink is a mixture of a highly caffeinated energy drink combined with vodka, whiskey, or any other alcoholic drink.

Popular energy drinks such as Red Bull, Full Throttle, Rockstar and Monster are a common choice of “mixers” for alcoholic beverages. Red Bull is by far the most popular choice. These drinks typically contain from 80 to 150 milligrams of caffeine or about as much caffeine as you would find in a cup of coffee. In contrast, Coca-Cola contains about 34 milligrams of caffeine per 12 ounce drink. In addition, there are several pre-made versions of the drink were sold on the shelves of convenience stores until 2010.

The dangers involved

Red Bull and VodkaThe dangers of the drink have been highly publicized. The death of three consumers in Sweden in 2001 prompted the Swedish National Food Administration to launch an investigation. Their official recommendation was not mix caffeine drinks with alcohol. France and Denmark banned the drinks shortly thereafter.

In August 2010, an 18-year old girl in the United States went into cardiac arrest and died after drinking a beverage that contained alcohol, caffeine, guarana and taurine. A few months later nine students passed out and were hospitalized after drinking the same type of drink.

A 2010 study by the University of Southern California pointed out that you should not mix stimulants of any kind with alcohol. Doing so may hinder respiration and as reported above, may result in death. Even more of a concern, it will impair your judgement because you will feel less drunk than you really are making the consumer a “wide awake drunk”. In addition, the caffeine stimulant allows the user to consume more alcohol than they normally could and leads to blackouts.

What the Energy Drink Vendors Say

Because energy drinks are considered dietary supplements, they’re not strictly regulated by the FDA. Red Bull director of corporate communications Patrice Radden told ABC News, “There is no reason why Red Bull should not, like any other drink, be mixed with alcohol as long as people do not underestimate that alcohol consumption might impair their mental and physical activities.”

Warnings issued

Four Loko DringIn November 2010, a study based on 1,000 students at a United States university was released. The study found that regularly consuming high-caffeine energy drinks significantly increases the risk of becoming alcohol-dependent and engaging in bouts of heavy drinking. During that same month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told the manufacturers of seven caffeinated alcoholic beverages that their drinks are a “public health concern” and could not stay on the market in their current form. The move followed a year-long review by the FDA, which gave the companies 15 days to either reformulate their products or face possible seizure under federal law. Experts used in the study said the caffeine used in the beverages can mask the effects of alcohol, leaving drinkers unaware of how intoxicated they are.

One of the companies that received warning letters was Phusion Projects, of Chicago, Illinois, which makes Four Loko — a drink nicknamed “blackout in a can” by some users. The other companies were San Diego, California-based United Brands, which manufactures the Joose and Max brands; Portland, Oregon’s Charge Beverages Corp., which sells Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked; and New Century Brewing of Boston, Massachusetts, which makes Moonshot.

What if feels like

Consumers of the Red Bull Vodka or other caffeinated energy drink cocktail report the feeling as a “quick buzz”. As one consumer reported, “It’s the perfect drink because you get drunk, but you have a lot of energy”.

Recipes for disaster

Here are a few other cocktails using Red Bull but not vodka…

Radiation

25ml Blue After Shock

25ml Sambuca

1 can Red Bull (250ml)

Pour the After Shock and Sambuca into a glass, top up with Red Bull

Mojito Toro Rojo

50ml white rum e.g. Barcardi

1 can Red Bull (250ml)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

4 mint leaves

½ a lime

Ice

Mix the mint and sugar together then squeeze in the lime juice and mix gently.  Add ice, rum and Red Bull.

Chambord Concorde

45ml Chambord

3 wedges of lime

1 can Red Bull (250ml)

Pour Chambord into a glass and squeeze two lime wedges into the drink.  Fill glass with ice and top off with Red Bull.

Chelsea Shandy

Champagne (can use Cava or Sekt instead)

Red Bull

Half fill a chilled Champagne flute with Red Bull, top up with Champagne.

Red Port

1 can Red Bull (250ml)

45ml Port

1 dash gin (1/4 teaspoon)

Half pint of beer (lager)

Pour all ingredients into a big glass.

Scott Hall Shanty

1 can Red Bull (250ml)

50ml Southern Comfort

50ml brandy

50ml dark rum e.g. Captain Morgan

Fill a jug with ice, pour ingredients over and stir. Serve in long glasses.

Captain Jack

25ml dark rum e.g. Captain Morgan

25m Jack Daniels

1 can Red Bull (250ml)

Pour the rum and Jack Daniels into a long glass, top up with Red Bull