Booze-makers have perfected the first 100 percent gag-free alcohol, an intoxicating beverage completely disguised as a sweet, fruity soda pop.
And that has alcohol opponents crying foul.
They contain about 5 percent alcohol – about the same as a typical domestic beer – but you wouldn’t know it.
The new, hybrid drinks known as malternatives have no bitterness, as beer does. They have no aftertaste, like wine. And there’s no aroma of distilled alcohol, like vodka or rum.
“You can keep drinking it all night, and you won’t know it till it hits you,” complains George Hacker, a director at the anti-alcohol Center for Science in the Public Interest.
According to CSPI, the taste of malternatives appeals especially to teens, who typically don’t like the taste of alcohol.
In a survey released last year, CSPI claimed 41 percent of teens between 14 and 18 had tried malternatives.
Hacker calls them a “gateway drug” designed to ease teens into drinking hard alcohol.
The makers of Bacardi Silver, Skyy Blue and other malternatives protest that they are marketed strictly for adults, mostly women between 21 and 27.
“It’s an opportunity for people who might not like the taste of beer to drink with others at the bar,” said Denis McGarry, vice president of Miller Brewing. “This brings them into the fold. “
But we didn’t take the beer companies’ word for it. For a better idea of their appeal, the Daily News shared a sixpack of Bacardi Silver with the group the beer companies say is the target audience: 20-something adults.
Here’s what they said:
- Audrey Dabney, 24, Hahnemann University student: “It reminds me of Zima, with citrus.”
- Suzette McMillan, 25, Hahnemann University student: “There’s no aftertaste.”
- Joe Funaro, 25, off-duty cop: “It’s got that hard lemonade taste to it.”
- Steve Crothers, 28, off-duty cop: “It’s like a flat Sprite.”
- Christine McMullin, 29, of the Northeast: “There’s no alcohol taste.
- Nicki Pino, 28, of Mount Airy: “It tastes like Sprite. “
“That’s the whole point,” said CSPI’s Hacker. “They don’t taste like alcohol. They’re designed to lure young people to drink.”