Rolling Stone named it Hot Drink of the Year 2004. Its supposedly an energy drink with Taurine, Ginsing, Caffine, and Guarana. However, there is an added kick, its a malt beverage with 6% alcohol and comes in 16oz cans, singles or 4 packs. Sparks Lite (with less calories) has just arrived on the scene in a blue/silver can. 12 packs of both are expected later this year.
In the field, and on the bike, I love this stuff. The idea of mixing caffine, ginsing, and alcohol together is pure genius. If you can get past the taste ( one review likened it to a combination of Sweet Tarts and ass) there's a lovely gift of a "buzz" awaiting you. Just like any other product of greatness, there is a warning: Don't drink 4 of these in the evening if you expect to get a good nights sleep. The guarana/caffine mix will mess you up like a 400lb cell mate. Guarana is a popular ingredient of sodas from Brazil and its main ingredient is guaranine which is identical to caffine. So why not just use caffine? Its alot cheaper than guarana, but not as easy on the system. Anyway, they pack both in this drink with a ginsing chaser and that will keep you up.
Good luck finding it. So far its in most states, bypassing some of the conservative midwest. I have seen it in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Louisiana so far. Your best bet is to check out one of those crappy little smoke & liquor stores that may sell gas too. I've got 4 local dealers and one is my local Clark station (thankfully). Price rages from 1.25 to 2.39 a can. Yeah, 2.39 is high but when your local pusher is out...what ya gonna do? Red Bull is for wimps, non alcoholic pussy bullshit. Some try to mix Bull with Jager or vodka.. hah!, a ladies drink. There are other alcohol/energy drinks out there, Bud's B^E, Moonshot, & Zygo to name a few. I'll get around to those...someday. For now Sparks is the stuff.
A group of Do-gooders forced Miller to reformulate Sparks and take out the ginsing, caffine and guarana. They claimed that Sparks was being marketed to kids. I never saw much marketing but maybe out in California things are different. It still tastes the same but without the kick. Thanks assholes.
5/31 I just tried the "Light" version in the blue/silver can. It tastes very similar to a sugar free soda with that funky weak aftertaste. I'll stick with the extra calories.
12/05 Theres some competition in the air. I've found Tilt from Busch, and Liquid Charge. Tilt is pretty decent but sweet. Still a hell of alot better than that other crap they put out...beer included. Tilt green is the highest alcohol content of all @ 8%. Nice. The price of all 3 are about the same..a buk fitty.
3/9/06 Now theres Sparks Plus. Its 7% so its higher that the competitors. Supposedly theres more caffine too. Taste? its a little funkier than regular Sparks, maybe sweeter too. Thankfully Sparks is now available throughout the US except for 4 backwood states.
UPDATE 4/20 Sparks has release 2 more flavors, though I can't figure out why. They still are just malt beverages with no energy buzz. The red one tastes similar to that crap you got from your dentist to check your brushing... it tastes bad. The Lemon Stinger is pretty good though, like a carbonated lemonade.. Both have an odd floating frothy film on the surface after the carbonation dies down.
Theres also Tilt which comes in orange and lime. The green lime tastes like a bad margarita but is 8%. There is no longer any caffine/energy in Tilt so Im sure its going to die off the shelves soon.
Thankfully some companies still sell the high octane - high energy combo. We'll just have to see for how long. I found FOUR while in Wisconsin. It originally came in a red/white can and added wormwood oil, an ingredient in absinthe. It has a cherry kind of taste and was 8%. Then they came out with Four Maxed which goes to 10% and came in grape and citris. It is very sweet. Now there is Four LOKO. There are a variety of flavors, orange, grape, watermelon and fruit punch. The great thing is they only come in the 24oz cans and are now 12%!! Four Maxed is still available but the art has been updated and I've not had the opportunity to taste it. Its been very difficult to find in Illinois. I still find it in Florida, Louisiana, and Wisconsin. They taste the best out of all I've tried.
New Four Loko flavors are Lemonade, Blue Raspberry, and Cranberry Lemonade. The Raspberry is kinda funky and not in the stable of my preferences. However, both the lemonades are great! The cranberry is a close runner to the watermelon.
The most available caffiinated alcohol drink available to me, is Joose. It comes in 4 flavors, grape, berry, blue (.not sure what that taste is), a kinda orange, and Jungle Joose. Jungle is green and has the most unique flavor, not the best but unique. It ranges from 9 - 9.9%. All the flavors are a bit over the top, the kind that makes you quickly shake your head after the first hit.
UPDATE there are new flavors. Panther, kinda like kiwi...at first I thought it was cotton candy. Like the rest of Joose, its very sweet. Mambo is my favorite so far. Its a lighter red fruit flavor. I just got my first taste of the watermelon and I liked it. Its a bit rougher/acidic than Four's watermelon but still good.
Of all the new flavors, I have to credit Max Vibe's Green Apple. Max vibe doesnt taste very good as a general rule. They'll do if theres nothing else but I steer clear. The citris flavor is horrible BUT the Green Apple flavor kicks ass. Its tart and sweet, much like the strong ciders.