This is the second segment of my multi-part investigation of non-Red-Bull energy drinks (you can read the first segment here). Certainly, I’d much rather being drinking a can of my favorite ostensibly-strawberry-flavored synapse stimulant, but you know what they say: Needs must when the Red Bull drives. With all the energy juices out of the way, let’s get to the most exciting of all energy drinks in this:

Water.The source of all life. It comprises 50-60% of your adult body, depending on if you trend more male or female. It makes the funnest balloons.

And because everyone these days is health-conscious AND in dire need of a quick boost, water is the perfect delivery system for all that guarana extract you’ve got lying around the house.

Guarana, for those of you not in the know, is not just my favorite word to use in a rap, e.g.:

My rhymes have more energy than solid guarana.
I chew up wack rappers like a verbal piranha.
Rake ‘em over the coals like I’m stoking a sauna.
Make ‘em feel more outdated than roadside Americana.

No, it’s also an Amazonian berry whose seeds contain twice the amount of caffeine found in coffee beans. Which explains why people would naturally assume it’s an awesome energy supplement and drop it in creatively-flavored waters for your drinking pleasure…although not, as it turns out, mine.

Test Drive 5:

Skinny Water Hi-Energy (Acai Grape Blueberry)
Total duration of energy:  2 hours 45 minutes (10AM-Noon45)

Official Product Description: Keep Skinny Chilly. Nutrient-Enhanced Water Beverage: 0 calories, 0 sugar, 0 sodium, 0 guilt. Inspired by Pat Croce.

Energy Source: 50mg of guarana seed extract. 0g of sugar. (Sweetened with sucralose.) By the way, that’s in the bottle, which, at 16 fl oz, is supposed to be two servings. So if you’re trying to get your daily water allotment, don’t make it all this, apparently.

Flavor: It tastes like Kool-Aid put out a special Limited Edition Beach-Ball Summer flavor (that’s really just grape-flavored with some berry dropped in), and then you forgot to drink your glass quickly enough and all your ice melted in it. It has that distinct flavor of “Really, Skinny Water? You’re going to make me stand up from where I’m curled up on the couch in my PJs watching a rerun of Wild & Crazy Kids on a Saturday in 1992 and pour another glass because you can’t be bothered to be sweet enough to match my Berry Berry Kix?”

You know that flavor, right?

Energy Start/Stop: It gave me a mild headache, but that probably has less to do with the energy and more to do with the sucralose. You’ll notice it chugging along in your chest, but only barely. The only times I even noticed it at all were the moments when I would trip over a word (an unfortunate side effect for me of almost all energy drinks).

Test Drive 6:

Glaceau Vitamin Water Energy (tropical citrus)
Total duration of energy:  4 hours (10AM-2PM)

Official Product Description: A little energy can take you a long way. Take all-American girl, Carrie Underwood. She’s gone from rocking out the church aisles in Checota, Oklahoma, to taking over the spotlight in the world’s largest arenas, dazzling adoring fans and going multi-platinum twice, aka “ambi-platinous” (thanks, internet). Her beverage? This bottle that’s got vitamins and a taste of guarana…it helps her keep her grip on the ‘carnival ride’ of life.

Energy Source: 50mg of natural caffeine (from guarana). 32g of sugar.

Flavor: It really barely leaves an impression. The first ingredient listed on the bottle is “reverse osmosis water,” which, contrary to wikipopular belief, is apparently water that sucks the low concentration of enjoyment out of my mouth and deposits it into a high-concentration area on the bottle’s label, mostly centered on that amazing product description, which sounds like the text from one of my Chapelboro Insiders Emails. Seriously, I WANT to like this product, but it’s like drinking Continental-breakfast orange juice at a Motel 6: oranges were too expensive, so they bought the kind that fills in with grapefruit; you don’t hate it; it doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth; but afterwards, when you’re trying to think of something nice to say, you just don’t say anything at all.

…Like I just did.

Energy Start/Stop: I’m noticing that 1) guarana drinks have a tendency to make me jittery but not feel energized and 2) most (if not all) energy waters are full of guarana. You can expect a lot of toe-tapping and desk-drumming with these energy waters, and I don’t mean in the Ron-Stutts-has-an-Al-Green-song-stuck-in-his-head way.

Test Drive 7:

SoBe lifewater B-Energy (strawberry apricot)
Total duration of energy:  3 1/2 hours (10AM-130PM)

Official Product Description: Lifewater B-Energy Strawberry Apricot is a low calorie water with energy releasing B-vitamins.  Packed with delicious flavors and functional ingredients to help convert calories to energy for a natural energy boost throughout the day.

Energy Source: 63mg of caffeine. 0 of sugar.

Flavor: The first thing I thought of was the Wallaby Darned from Outback Steakhouse, except that’s peach-flavored and slushier. Of course, that connection made it perfectly clear: this lifewater is a tropical mixed drink minus the alcohol. So…just a cocktail mix then. It’s not as thick as the FRS from last Test Drive, but it doesn’t have enough sugar/sugar substitute to taste like juice (which is probably the saddest statement about the current state of juice in the history of squeezed fruit).  In fact, it tastes like something Steve would recommend.

Energy Start/Stop: Enh. Again, not so much a serious energy boost as a muscle-shiverer. I actually wonder if it’s purposefully going for ‘frozen cocktail mix,’ since combining it with vodka would loosen up your shivering forearms and neck muscles to the point where you could get out on the dance floor and really embarrass yourself (AKA ‘keep up with me’).

Test Drive 8:

MiOEnergy Liquid Water Enhancer (Black Cherry)
Total duration of energy:  (10AM-Final update forthcoming)

Official Product Description: Make your MiO / FLIP IT / unlock the flavor / TIP IT / each squeeze into water adds more flavor / SIP IT / your drink, your way / CLICK IT twice to lock tight / one squeeze for each 8 fl oz serving / ALWAYS DILUTE CONCENTRATE.

Oh fine. But only because you said so. …Party pooper.

Energy Source: 60mg of caffeine per “serving” (plus “less than 2% taurine and guarana extract”). 0g of sugar (but contains sucralose and acesulfame potassium as sweeteners). The most major concern regarding MiOEnergy is that “your drink, your way” part. There are 18 servings per container, but it’s a solid black squeeze bottle; there’s no way to tell how many servings you’re dropping into your cup of water, short of fishing out a half-teaspoon measure every time you use the stuff.

Flavor: It tastes just like cherry Kool-Aid would, if cherry Kool-Aid made you a motormouth… So, just like cherry Kool-Aid.

Energy Start/Stop: I could practically hear my internal Ghostbusters Proton Pack powering up as I downed an 8 fl oz cup of Mio’ed water (incidentally, my coworkers inched away in a similar manner). And that was only the beginning; I have so much untapped energy coursing through me as I type this, it’s all being funneled into my fingertips. I feel like a 1920s newsman madly hammering out the Big Scoop on my old-school typewriter…only without the Remington.

I guess that means the energy’s not “untapped” after all.

Okay, let’s sum up:

Skinny Water Hi-Energy is watered down, odd-tasting Kool-Aid. If you want energized Kool-Aid, go with MiOEnergy.

Glaceau Vitamin Water Energy…don’t bother with it. If you’re going to spend money on an energy drink, you should wind up with something for which you can actually say definitively whether you like it or hate it.

SoBe lifewater B-Energy— will make a great conversation starter when your party guests see you’ve included it on your tray of mixers. Mmm…cranberry juice.

MiOEnergy is good for the energy overachievers in the crowd. While every other one of these energy waters whispered in its nutrition facts that their bottles contain multiple servings (just asking for an energy overdose), only MiO goes out of its way to explain that you’re the one in control of how much you’re revving your engine, regardless of the fact that it doesn’t give you an easy way to actually measure that control. I can appreciate that level of honesty in an energy drink, even if I may just have unknowingly squirted 6 servings of the stuff in my cup.

Red Bull Envy Edition