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No hangovers? That's COCO Cocktails' claim

Posted June 24, 2018 6:07 p.m. EDT

I wrote recently of the emerging trend of alcoholic seltzers. While most followed a similar formula, one product -- COCO Cocktails -- took a different approach, using carbonated coconut water spiked with alcohol produced from fermented Florida orange peels.

The company that makes COCO Cocktails is Fort Lauderdale's Healthy Beverages, lending some insight into the inspiration behind the product. COCO Cocktails have electrolytes and vitamins, including B-6, both of which are purported to play a role in hangover prevention.

The COCO Cocktails website and product sheet both make a bold marketing claim: no hangovers. I mentioned this in my story and received an email from COCO co-founder Todd Shull, who said the company has an unofficial policy: If you get a hangover from drinking Shull's spiked coconut water, he'll have a pizza delivered to you. To date, he said, no one has claimed one.

I took it as a challenge.

As I grow older, hangovers get worse and worse. So I had to put COCO Cocktails to the test. If it went poorly, I would have a rough day-after and a pizza to keep me company; if it went well, I'd buy my own lunch.

Shull was careful to explain that this is not an official company policy and that COCO absolutely does not encourage binge drinking. Consider that a disclaimer, and I'll add to it: Alcohol affects people differently based on a variety of factors, so my experience is unique.

That said, I picked up three four-packs of COCO Cocktails' Refresh, a lemon and key lime-flavored drink that clocks in at 6 percent alcohol by volume and 95 calories per 12-ounce can. It contains 6 grams of sugar, with no added sugar, tannins or sulfites. Refresh is 70 percent coconut water and comes with a nutrition label that looks like it came a multivitamin bottle.

The flavor of Refresh is unique. The electrolyte-dense coconut water lends a subtle saltiness that works well with the semi-tart lemon-lime flavors, and the carbonation adds a sparkling quality that I hadn't experienced with coconut water. The orange-peel alcohol is neutral, making the drink go down extremely easy, despite an alcohol content similar to a standard cocktail.

I drank my way through a quantity all but guaranteed to be hangover-inducing over a span of little more than two hours. Having consumed similar quantities of beer or cocktails in the past before suffering a debilitating hangover, I began to plan an elaborate pizza order before stumbling off to bed.

My fiancée woke me up about six hour later and asked how I felt. I felt … fine. A little tired, maybe, but with no signs of the hangover that I was expecting. It was too early to make a judgment, so I got up and went about my day.

Throughout it, I felt noticeably different than I would have had I not consumed any alcohol, but any negative effects were mild. I had a touch of the classic hangover sluggishness, but on a scale of 1 to 10, it was around a 2. I didn't feel dehydrated, so that particular aspect of COCO's approach seemed to be spot-on. I felt sharp mentally and had a normal appetite, with no upset stomach.

I don't know if I can honestly consider this a no-hangover scenario, but in terms of the effects, this was more than tolerable. That I felt as well as I did after drinking 1,000 calories of this stuff is absolutely impressive. To my knowledge, there's no real prevention for hangovers -- other than not drinking -- but this came close. If I had consumed an equivalent quantity of 6 percent-alcohol beer, I'd be wrecked the next day.

While I probably won't pound a dozen COCO Cocktails' in the future, it's nice to know that I'd probably be none the worse for wear if I did. Paying for my own pizza is a more than a fair tradeoff.

-- email jg@saintbeat.com; follow @WordsWithJG

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