Do you remember when we taught you how to get really drunk off Gummi Bears? Of course you do. Kind of. And surely you recall our recipe for Faux Loko: The DIY Four Loko we shouldn't have told anyone about?
Both were unforgettable, classic episodes of Happy Hour. Now, we just found a way to combine them: Faux Loko Gummi Bears, people. Faux freakin' Loko Gummi Bears.
It's Friday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Here's to the best bad ideas.
A few weeks ago, my friend Patrick sent me a link to these Energy Gummi Bears. The odd confection comes from Vat19, a site that also sells giant inflatable animal heads and bags of crunchy cereal-style marshmallows, called Crunchmallows. As for the bears, the "Energy" quotient comes from a heaping dose of caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Plenty of sweets, too. First ingredient: corn syrup. Second ingredient: sugar. Patrick's suggestion: "Just add vodka!"
We ordered a 12-pack box of these buzzy Gummis for sixteen bucks. Each pouch contained nine or ten bears. It all came in the same flavor: Citrus Blast. I ate a pack as a preliminary test. Disgusting. Downright medicinal. Not even good-medicinal like Flintstones Chewables, but more like a NyQuil truck had crashed into a vat of gelatin. With nothing to lose, an infusion of alcohol could only make these taste better.
First, I followed the same recipe I did for the original, delicious drunken gummi bears:
- 1. Empty the bears into a small bowl.
- 2. Completely immerse them in vodka, with half an inch extra hooch on top.
- 3. Cover; leave in the fridge for five days.
- 4. Remove from vodka. Eat and be merry.
Everything went smoothly. Like their caffeine-free counterparts, the Energy Gummi Bears doubled in size over five days. They were soft, slippery, and very alcoholic. Before the infusion, one pack of nine bears weighed 1 ounce. Five days later, they weighed 1.85 ounces. In other words, the bears had become almost half vodka.
One morning, on an empty stomach, I ate two packs worth of Faux Loku Gummi Bears. For science. At first, I thought, "Hey, these are great!" But after five or so, I was choking them down. Vodka just doesn't have enough flavor of its own to counteract the nastiness of these bears. Haribo, this ain't. Eventually I got all 18 of them down.
I had a nice little buzz and felt lightly caffeinated. It made me want to go bowling and/or play hop-scotch, possibly at the same time. It wasn't the overwhelming experience of the original DIY Faux Loko, or the delicious, extremely caffeinated cold brew Irish coffee. But it was fun.
Then, I figured out the reason my face didn't feel like it was melting. By my calculations, those 18 bears contained a total of 1.7 ounces of vodka. A standard shot, more or less. Looking at the nutritional info on the package, each pouch has 32 milligrams of caffeine and 36 milligrams of taurine. But a standard 8.5 ounce can of Red Bull has 80mg of caffeine and 1,000mg of taurine. Our Faux Loko went as far as 280mg of caffeine. I suppose you can still have a good time without wondering if your heart is about to explode. But not if everything at the party tastes terrible.
Vodka, at its best, tastes like alcoholic water. Adding it to something nasty is just going to make watered-down nasty. So I tried a couple of other spirits. First up: Tequila blanco. This was a bad idea. The flavors didn't mingle well, and it just ended up tasting more medicinal.
The winner, in batch number three, came as quite a surprise.
BOURBON. Dear, sweet bourbon. I should have known. The sweetness of bourbon mellowed out the gummi's flavor, and the smokiness cut it, too. This is bound to piss off some whiskey purists, but...we used Bulleit. Yes. We poured one of the finest bourbons in most bars over a bowl full of Gummi Bears. The result was definitely edible—borderline tasty—and it came with all the fun effects of overstimulated inebriation.
Now, here's what to do if you really want to get crafty: Get yourself some gummi bear molds. Make our Faux Loko recipe. Add a bit of gelatin (there are plenty of Gummi Bear recipes online). There you have it!
Far more labor intensive, but they'd probably taste better. You might also try using different flavored spirits, or even adding a dash of extract to the brew you soak them in. But if you just want Faux Loco Gummi Bears in your yap as fast as possible, just get the Vat19 version for $16 per 12-pack). All you need then is a bowl, a little patience, and a bottle of bourbon.