REVIEW: Monster Rio Punch Energy Juice

I thought about starting this review using the lyrics for Duran Duran’s song “Rio.” Who’s Duran Duran, you ask? And that is why I decided against the reference. But much like I can’t get the song “Rio” out of my head when I bring it up, I haven’t gotten the taste of Monster Energy’s Rio Punch out of my mind ever since drinking it.

According to the description on the side of the can, Rio Punch is a blend of exotic fruit flavors with a hint of spice. Scanning the ingredients list shows it’s flavored with papaya and mango purees. The can also says Brazil is home to over 70% of all fruits ever known, but I’m too lazy to fact-check that. Something else I’m unsure of is that “hint of spice.” Is there a hint? If there’s a hint, it’s as much of one as r4lkfot4$v2jhi4t2 is a hint to my bank’s password because all I taste are the fruits.

When poured into a glass, its orange hue makes it look like it’s flavored with papaya and mango, but it smells like a red fruit punch. There’s definitely a tropical vibe going on with this energy drink’s flavor. At first, it also tasted like a fruit punch, but with subsequent sips, I started tasting the individual fruits with the papaya being stronger than the mango. I’m not going to complain about that because mango is a common drink flavor, while the equally as delicious papaya isn’t. The more I drank this, the more I enjoyed it. Although, there’s a bit of an artificial sweetener finish, which takes away from the tasty start.

Like Monster Energy’s Ultra line, I can’t think of being disappointed with any Monster Juice product, which continues with Rio Punch. It has a great tropical flavor that I won’t soon forget, much like the lyrics to Duran Duran’s “Rio.” Although, I much prefer Pipeline Punch and Pacific Punch over this new flavor.

Purchased Price: More than one should pay on eBay
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 33 grams of sugar (including 33 grams of added sugar), 0 grams of protein, and 160 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Ghost Energy FaZe Up Energy Drink

When Ghost Energy debuted in 2020, it had four core flavors, one of which was vaguely titled “Citrus.” That can gave me big time lemon-lime Gatorade vibes with a hint of Mello Yello, which always reminds, affectionally, me of a C-tier fast food soda fountain. Ghost’s “Citrus” is a solid, full-flavored energy drink that I revisited recently ahead of this review and still enjoy quite a bit. For its follow-up foray into the lemon-lime category, the brand has once again teamed up with heralded esports gaming group FaZe Clan for the even more cryptically titled “FaZe Up.”

Reading the name “FaZe Up,” I instantly expect a clean, sharp, and crisp lemon-lime flavor, a la 7UP or Sprite, but that’s not what I get. The flavor starts off eerily similar to the original Ghost Citrus, with a bit more of a Mountain Dew aura to go along with the Mello Yello I tasted before. There’s no background signature Dew taste (you know the one), but that blend of lemon-forward sweet citrus dominates the opening sip. Then the flavor changes and steers away from that lemon-sphere into lime-land and finishes with a pronounced sour pucker. It’s really good.

In essence, “FaZe Up” does have some of the sharpness of a 7UP or Sierra Mist (ahem, sorry, Starry), but only in the backend of the flavor. This is a Mountain-Dew-meets-7UP-meets-sour-candy-energy-drink for the lemon-lime lovers that really does hit the spot like a proper jolt of citrusy electricity. As always with Ghost, the flavor is dense and endlessly drinkable with a nice, tight effervescence that goes down smooth without feeling flat. It’s delicious, and with 200 milligrams of caffeine and solid doses of other focus ingredients, it is absolutely one I will come back to again and again.

Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Monster Energy Ultra Fantasy Ruby Red

Grapefruit is not my favorite fruit because it makes my taste buds tap out the moment the fruit’s bitterness hits them. I can count the number of times I’ve had the citrus fruit with one hand. But if every grapefruit tasted as wonderful as this Monster Energy Ultra Fantasy Ruby Red Energy Drink, I would eat so many that counting them would quickly surpass all the digits attached to my body, all 21.5 of them.

Fantasy Ruby Red sounds like a name you’d see on a flyer passed out on the Las Vegas Strip, but calling it Ultra Grapefruit would’ve given it kind of a 60-year-old posing as a teenager vibe to it. The energy drink has a pleasant citrusy scent but didn’t immediately register as grapefruit to me. After a few more sniffs, I could pinpoint the fruit, but there’s a little something else fruity hitting my nose that I just can’t place.

The energy drink’s flavor could easily be mistaken for another fruit. It’s sweet with a bit of tartness, and there’s definitely none of the bitterness that grapefruit is known for. There were moments when I detected a hint of grapefruit, but if someone told me this was blood orange flavored, I’d believe them, ignoring the beverage’s not-blood-orange pink color.

While a tremendous tasting citrusy energy drink and definitely something I’ll buy again, I wouldn’t say I liked Fantasy Ruby Red as much as last year’s Strawberry Dreams. But if you accidentally pick this up instead of Strawberry Dreams because, at a quick glance, their pink cans could be confused for each other, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Fantasy Ruby Red.

Purchased Price: More than one should pay on eBay
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 390 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 2 grams of erythritol, 0 grams of protein, and 150 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Red Bull Winter Edition Pear Cinnamon Energy Drink

Winter is here! Oh, wait, I’m typing this in autumn. Fall is here! And that means Red Bull’s new Winter Edition is rolling out to stores to let you know the cold months are upon us. This year’s flavor is Pear Cinnamon, which sounds more fitting for autumn than winter. But this seasonal energy drink is so excellent that I want it to stay for every season from now on.

The pear flavor is the most distinct. It’s sweet, crisp, and slightly tart. A hint of cinnamon eventually makes itself known to your taste buds, but it’s hiding in the drink’s tartness. I was expecting a stronger cinnamon punch to let my mouth know that the season of cinnamon is upon us, but despite that, this is the best tasting Red Bull variety I’ve ever had.

While it initially has a pear flavor, I thought I tasted lychee in the aftertaste after taking a sip from an opened can that sat in my fridge overnight. Since then, I can’t get that out of my mind, and every sip I’ve taken since has a lychee aftertaste. You’ll hear no complaints from me about that because there’s a lychee-flavored Red Bull from Japan that I adore as much as this one and can no longer get my hands on. So if my taste buds get to relive that with this, I’m happy.

But what I’m not happy about, and the worst thing about this, is that once it’s gone, I’ll never be able to taste it again since Red Bull comes up with new flavors every year and rarely brings back old ones. But who knows, maybe there will be a Christmas miracle one year, and Red Bull decides to bring this back. Only the future knows.

Red Bull Winter Edition Pear Cinnamon is my favorite Red Bull flavor ever (that’s not from Japan). Find it, drink it, let its flavor wash over your taste buds, ask your taste buds if they also taste lychee, and then let the 114 milligrams of caffeine ride the red blood cells in your veins.

Purchased Price: More than one should pay on eBay
Size: 12 oz cans
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, 125 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 38 grams of sugar (including 38 grams of added sugar), and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ghost Rainbow Sour Strips Energy Drink

In recent years, Sour Strips, the social media-savvy candy company founded in 2019, has gone from relative gourmet obscurity to a sweet and sour force to be reckoned with. Popping up in big box stores like Target and gourmet sugar shops all across the United States, the brand has now officially aligned with another of the modern sweet and sour overlords — Ghost Energy. This didn’t come out of nowhere though, as Sour Strips founder Maxx Chewning is a longtime collaborator with Ghost, including last year’s fantastic Ghost Energy flavor Strawbango Margarita.

This year’s limited edition collab is a bit more on the nose, turning one of Sour Strips’ most popular flavors, Rainbow, into a drinkable sugar-free elixir chock-full of 200 milligrams of natural caffeine and focus ingredients, including L-Carnitine, Taurine, and Alpha-GPC.

Like many great candy companies that came before it, Sour Strips makes a type of typically tough, leathery gummy candy belts covered in sugar that come in a myriad of whimsical fruity flavors. The difference with Sour Strips is they feel like the softest, thinnest, and freshest version of candy belts I’ve ever had, with punchy flavors and a legitimate sour finish to go along with the crunchy sugar crystals. I know we’re not reviewing the candy here, but I wanted to show you my credentials that I do, in fact, know what this drink should taste like.

So what does a rainbow taste like? It tastes like many other rainbow-flavored Skittles-adjacent drinks with one huge difference — there’s no grape. Oftentimes, with Taste the Rainbow-type concoctions, whether from Alani Nu’s Cosmic Stardust or C4’s Skittles, the grape comes in with authority and can be a touch overpowering, but not here at all. This rainbow is a beautiful blend of cherry first, then blue raspberry, and a lemon-forward citrus that’s really refreshing. I think I even get a hint of strawberry, which helps differentiate it from a more typical Bomb Pop-type of profile.

The flavor is delicious and packs a pretty decent sour punch too. Again, much like the Sour Pink Lemonade, it’s not going to take the sourness to Warheads heights, and I wouldn’t want it to, but it has a sour bite that stacks as you drink it to back up the dense sweetness at the forefront. It’s nice and bubbly bright with zero thick syrupiness, and I think it’s safe to say Maxx should be very proud of his second excellent flavor with Ghost.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: Vitamin Shoppe
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.