Four Loko Just Won’t Die

I’m sure a lot of us think back wistfully to that time the government forced manufacturers to take the caffeine out of Four Loko. It was sad; it also undoubtedly saved my life. I would have continued drinking Four Loko until I choked on neon vomit in my sleep. What replaced it, Faux Loko, was not even worth my disdain. But it’s still around, and there are new flavors the likes of which I shudder to hypothesize about. But here goes.

The first new addition to catch my eye is called Coco Loko. Great name, even though I’m already dry heaving. I know there’s probably no such thing in it, but imagine regular Loko with a drizzle of coconut milk that thickens it ever so slightly. Oh my god. Actually a lot of the new stuff is tropical—Pineapple, Mango, even Uva—perhaps because those are the only flavors strong enough to mask battery acid. Plus no American is gonna be all, “Hey, this doesn’t taste like uva!”

There’s also Green Apple and Black Cherry, which must hit the palate like melted Warheads Sour Candy, at best. What I kind of want to get to the bottom of, however, is the can labeled Margarita. It even, to distinguish it from other Lokos, has a picture of a Margarita glass on the label. Margarita in a can seems frightening enough, but to carbonate it as well? It almost makes one want to take a trip down Loko Memory Lane. Fortunately, I can’t remember where that is. 

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It’s Getting Too Expensive To Get Drunk For Cheap

The bodega around the corner jacked the price of my usual Coors Light 24 oz. tallboy up from $1.85 to $1.99. Not cool, Thrifty Mart or whatever-the-fuck-you’re-called. 

Here’s the thing: I need those 15 cents so that I can get pretzels from the vending machine at work. At first I thought I could just slum even further to save money, (i.e. start drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon) but it turns out this brewer is fleecing the hipster demographic: even that shit is now a full $2.49! And it does not taste any better than it did in college. (Just kidding, I drank Milwaukee’s Best in college, just to give you a sense of my poor standards.)

Weirdly enough, the regular Coors tallboy has stayed at the $1.85 price level. It’s like I’m supposed to pay extra to not get as fat as fast. What about something “imported” from Mexico? NO, I WILL NOT GO ABOVE $3. DO NOT INSULT ME, TECATE. Consider the 40 oz. bottles, because we’re getting antsy here. Yes, go with what the bums drink—I love malt liquor that gets all warm while you’re powering your way through it, or goes flat when you put the remainder in the fridge. Don’t even talk to me about the current Four Faux Loko recipe.

I’m going down the street to buy a bottle of Alexis vodka for $9.99. It won’t last, but it feels like a bargain. Especially when you lose sensation in your legs.

Replace Four Loko with Naturally Caffeinated Beer

So, Four Loko was banned, and I couldn’t care less. Not that I’m in favor of the government deciding what adult citizens should or shouldn’t put in their bodies. It’s just that the drink never appealed to me, what with the fact of it being so gross. But for those already mourning their Four Loko buzz, even as they continue to nurse their Four Loko hangovers, never fear, there are other options. Consider fun-looking, naturally-caffeinated beers, like the fantastic new Brooklyn Brewery/Stumptown coffee collaboration, Brooklyn Intensified Coffee Stout.

Even if these coffee-beer hybrids get banned too, you can always go old school, and simply mix caffeine and booze yourself. Whatever happened to good old Irish coffee, rum and coke, and vodka and red bull? And yes, I know that Four Loko had as much caffeine as six cups of coffee, not one. But seriously, if you really need six cups of coffee to get you going, you’re better of doing hard drugs.

Le Souk is Not a Cliché

Someone famous, I still can’t remember who, once said: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” That is very much a cliché, but my Wiki says clichés can certainly be true. Wiki also tells me that “cliché” is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work, which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect. It’s something that is “played out,” rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful, or novel. The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea, which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. I think it’s extremely cliché that it’s a word with French origins. Nightlife, for the most part, has become one big fat cliché, and I embrace anyone trying to do something different.

Anyway, I do agree with that cliché, but I have managed a few free dinners recently. The latest was at Le Souk, now firmly embedded in its Laguardia Place location. It was an experience that was way better than expected. I thought the whole Mediterranean food, belly dancer, hookah thing was cliché, but it was a blast. The food was amazing, and the atmosphere refreshing. There were big tables of people having gobs of fun. I even broke the Steve Lewis Rule Number 7, which is “Always leave a party when the belly dancer goes on.” Rule 1, for those keeping track, is “Never, ever date a girl whose hair can hurt you.” Le Souk was a welcome change from the actually cliché dining experience of sitting across a table with friends, listening to easy-listening music, and chatting. People were having fun all around. I even smoked a Hookah with a bowl made from a pineapple.

There are powers that want to ban this Hookah thing. It seems so much a part of the experience and culture that it just doesn’t seem right. I am really tired of ”the government” helping me not hurt myself. I sort of understand the drug thing, and drinking ages and such. As most know, I hardly ever did drugs. Although it has been argued that when I did them, they must have been really good because their effects have lasted a very long time. Now they want to ban energy drinks that have booze in them. Alcoholic energy drinks have the politicos in an uproar. Omg, the poor dumb public is enjoying drinks that combine alcohol and energy! We must save them from themselves! It seems so ridiculous to ban them, as they are merely time and energy savers. Then banned peeps will just have to continue to pour the red bull into the vodka by themselves—or visa versa—depending on what night it is. I can’t fathom how a smokey pineapple is a bad thing. Nine times out of ten I find government intervention invasive. Spoiling the fun of it all is such a cliché.

I didn’t understand the rules of engagement of the belly dancing thing, or the Hookah thing, although the beautiful and hip staff were trying real hard to educate me. It was all Greek to me. My crew figured out that we had eaten 8 different animals that night. I was shocked by this revelation, but at the same time, I was awed by how delicious the meal was. I was faced with a dilemma: I thought of going vegan, and would have if it wasn’t such a cliché. Do the French use an English word for cliché? The crowd became frenetic with belly dancers, smokey pineapples, good food and strong drinks.

A sultry, dark, quiet lass with very talkative eyes whispered a familiar cliché in my ear. “Can you keep a secret?” she asked. I whispered back to her with my smokey pineapple breath, “Of course I can, I am a writer which means I talk a lot but don’t say anything.” Her deep eyes deepened, and I pointed out how many clichés she was invoking. “Love is blind, misery loves company, two wrongs don’t make a right, and too little too late.” That gave me enough time for a glance over at my Amanda (whose angry eyes reminded me of another cliché: if it aint broke don’t fix it). My guilty glance back at my darling said, “It takes two to tango” and “Actions speak louder than words.” But the smoke coming out of her ears was not of the pineapple variety. I started to chuckle thinking laughter to be the best medicine. I turned back to the imperfect stranger and said “It’s not, you its me,” and “I think we would be better off as friends,” and “it seems like you want more than I’m prepared to give,” and “I’m not ready for a relationship right now.” The sultry lady excused herself to the ladies room, which must have had a long line as she never came back.

Le Souk was sexy. I caught up with Le Souk honcho Lamia Funti and asked her about her world.

Le Souk made it’s mark in the East Village. How does this location affect your business? The new location was a challenge for us, and it gave us a chance to reinvent ourselves, it gave us a kind of a facelift. It happened at the right time, since the East Village was fading out. The West Village is in the center of everything, so many businesses flourish here, the neighbors are amazing, and we are very active in the community. We feel very welcome here, and we are very happy to be here.

The space is also very different. Tell me about adjustments and changes you made to make it work. Le Souk was renowned for its multiple levels, which was made organically. We started 10 years ago with a small 1000 sq. foot room and ended up with a 3 floor, 6000 sq. foot space. Here, we took a big raw space and tried to recreate the same feeling. Even though they each have their different identity, you still get the same Le Souk feeling. It’s all about having fun, enjoying good food, and just feeling at home.

The food was great. Does it drive the late night? Or is it the other way around? The food does drive the late night. A lot of people come for dinner and don’t realize that it turns into this fun and crazy place, and end up staying the whole night. The food also brings earlier clientele, which is always good. And thank you for the compliment, we’ve been working very seriously on our menu. We always invite new, renowned chefs to help us refresh our menu, and make it exciting. The latest chef to work with us is Doug Psaltis. He worked as an executive chef for Alain Ducasse, he’s really talented. We like to call our food Moroccan with a French twist.

Will you open other Le Souks? We are always open for new business opportunities. Our new project would be to open more Le Souks in other cities, but not another in New York. New York city can only take one Le Souk.

What is your favorite night at Le Souk? My favorite night is Tuesday. The music and crowd are great. It’s funk rock. The crowd is very diverse, so you’ll be seating between a guy looking like Bret Micheals and another one that looks like Boy George in his old good days. It’s a lot of fun.

Why did the Avenue B location close? When we decided to open Le Souk in the East Village, we took a big chance. You have to remember that Alphabet City 12 years ago, you couldn’t even walk at night over there. But it happened, and we were lucky and Le Souk took off. Other businesses and restaurants started to open around us. The East Village was really happening. Unfortunately, there was a big and very aggressive movement against the nightlife in the East Village, and I guess Le Souk being the bigger spot on the block was the target. But we moved on and it happened for the best, we love our new location.

The hookah was a first for me and mad fun. Tell me how important it is to the place. Will it eventually be banned? In our culture the hookah is very important. It’s a way of sharing, socializing, and getting to know people. Hookahs are very important for our concept. People come to our place to experience it, and they love it. They are talking about having a grandfathers law, in which case it wouldn’t affect us. It would be very bad for us to loose it, absolutely.

How to Survive in a Post-Loko World

You made it. It’s finally Friday. You’re dog tired but still want to party, because you need to make up for all the socializing you had to forego while you were filing TPS reports all week. Until recently, the answer to your energy woes could be found in a can of Four Loko caffeinated malt liquor, which could get you drunk and wired at the same time. But the United States of Buzzkills finally succeeded in getting Four Loko to remove the caffeine and other stimulants, thus eliminating its entire reason for being. So now how do you get your mack on until the wee hours? Ignoring for the moment that you can always order a vodka and Red Bull – or just sip a cup of Earl Grey – there is one solution that you might not have tried. Before you shake ya ass to DJ Paul Sevigny at Don Hill’s, spend an hour in Club Bed with DJ Pillows.

For those with the self-discipline to do it, the disco nap is the perfect way to get the most out of your Friday night. There’s nothing to it. As soon as you can leave your job, head home as quickly as you can and take a one-hour nap. Just remember to set your alarm so you don’t get oversleep and lose the will to go out. When it goes off, get moving as quickly as you can. Put on some high-energy music (this should do the trick), take a shower, grab a bite to eat, put on some nice clothes, and get to the club.

You’ll find that you didn’t miss anything except amateur hour, and you’ll walk in the door looking rested, fresh, and collected. Sure, you might be a drink or two behind your friends, but that will work in your favor as you get into the late innings. Most hotties worth your time prefer someone who can speak without slurring and walk without wobbling.

But there’s another intangible benefit of the disco nap: it’s a perspective changer. When you go straight from the office to the bar, work bleeds into play and everything seems kind of fuzzy. But going from bed to bar feels at once naughty and empowering, like you alone have your wits about you in a room full of maniacs.

Yes, you can survive just fine in a post-Loko world. Once you start treating sleep like a drug, it takes the party to an entirely new level.