Posted August 20, 2012 by Big Red Boots in energy water

Hi Ball Vanilla energy water

I really like sparkling water.  Whether in club soda form or New York Seltzer-esque flavors, this proves that you don’t need tons of artificial flavors and colors to make a tasty drink.  Hi Ball was certainly one of those, only accentuated by the awesome packaging that made me feel cooler and hipper with every mouthful.  Just carrying around the Hi Ball glass give you a sensation of hanging out in a trendy district with cool trendy people.  Hi Ball makes me want to spend money frivolously on hats and ironic T-shirts.

At least that was the old Hi Ball.   There is a new Hi Ball I have found in stores, grown from little 10 ounce bottle to big 16 ouncers – enough to hold a very serious buzz.  As much as I like the new aluminum cans, it makes me miss the fun and cool of the glass bottle.  Not it is just another energy drink shaped thingy.  Fortunately, there is enough good stuff in here to offset my loss of hipness.

I miss the bottles.  I know – you can pack more goodness into a big 16 ounce can than you could in those cool 10 ounce glass bottles, but the glass bottles are around a thousand times more cool than any metal can, even if you have special dots that show up if your can gets cold.

That is the big seller of the new Hi-Ball cans: cold activated dots.  And like the Bawls drinks that are supposed to do the same thing, the effect is best if the drink is ICY COLD.  For the most part, leaving the drink out on the counter will make these little dots fade into the background.   Yes, it is a gimmick, but if it works for this design well enough.   The original cans were created by the Alyssa Warnock Design Studio, who now took her design to aluminum. While the logo still stays the same, there was something special about the glass bowling pin design of the original that made them almost irresistable on the shelves.

However, they did functionally do enough to the can to get the job done right.  They list the caffeine clearly on the label, which is very nice.  They double face their cans and list all the other ingredients nicely too (although it is water – so it is not like there are a whole lot of ingredients to list).

As I said before, I like Setzer water.  I like it enough that i actually went o Ebay and bought a bunch of seltzer machines and found the one store in Denver where you can refill carbon dioxide canisters for it.  Seltzer rules.  Flavored seltzer is another matter – and you have to be real careful or you end up with a bunch of undrinkable fizzy water.  Berry flavors work best, although lots of fruit do in general.  Limes and Lemons are fantastic, and savory flavors are about as revolting as you can get (chicken flavored sparkling water, anyone?)
Unfortunately, Vanilla is  another flavor that does not work well when it is subtle and unsweetened. Pretty much any flavor which needs to have the sweetness to make it work will not work when it does not have the sugar.  Every try eating baking chocolate, or accidentally take a taste of bran muffin batter when you think it is cupcake batter?  Your brain tells you to expect sweetness, and your mouth can’t get ver the disappointment.

In this particular case, the vanilla also ends up highlighting the chalkiness of the caffeine and ginseng, while the bitterness of the Vitamin B complex gives this a bitternes that you don’t expect in an unsweetened seltzer water.

One of the big things that separate Hi Ball from other caffeinated sparkling waters is that Hi Ball does not use any sweeteners at all – just flavors.  That means this is a 0 calorie drink, not to mention they use only organic ingredients, grom the organic guarana to the organic ginseng.  IT also is completely free of preservatives or additives or any of that stuff, which I really enjoy.  It is really just energy infused water and not much else.

In terms of buzz, it is pretty decent.  There is 50mg of caffeine on top of 150mg of organic caffeine, along with enough Vitamin B complex to give a Monster sized energy rush.  Of course the difference there is the lack of sugar or sweeteners, so the rush is a more natural and sustained one that Monsters spike and crash.  I got a good 2-3 hours lift from it, and barely felt it when it went away – just a craving for a little more caffeine in my system.

I loved the buzz that is in here and the packaging might be not as cool as it was, but it is still decent.  However, next time I will go for the berry.

Big Red Boots