Sweet, sexy, and deceptively alcoholic. Almost a third of CHOICE’s teenage testers couldn’t detect the alcohol in a Vodka Mudshake.
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  • Updated:26 Feb 2008


coloured alcopops

In brief

  • Alcopops are very appealing to younger people, and contribute to underage and binge drinking.
  • In CHOICE's trial, 24% of the 18-19-year-olds thought there was no alcohol in the alcopops they tasted.
  • The regulation of alcopops marketing — and of alcohol more generally — doesn't effectively protect teenagers. Parents need to get involved and keep the lines of communication open.

Many health and advocacy groups are concerned about the influence of premixed alcohols — known as ready-to-drinks (RTDs) — on teenage alcohol use.

An RTD is part spirit or wine and part non-alcoholic drink, such as milk or a soft drink, bought in a premixed format. They’re also known as 'alcopops' or 'designer' drinks.

Research shows that alcopops are extremely popular with underage drinkers, and the drink of choice for underage binge drinkers.

They’re the most commonly consumed form of alcohol among 12–17-year-old girls, are considered an initiation drink by many young people, and have been described by industry and concerned groups alike as 'bridging' or 'gateway' beverages for less experienced drinkers, who aren’t yet used to the taste of alcohol.

Their popularity among younger teenagers has been attributed to their trendy packaging and sweet flavours, which can mask the taste of alcohol. As one journalist quipped, an alcopop is "a fizzy drink which allows alcohol to be introduced into the bloodstream while bypassing the taste buds".

With the above concerns in mind, we set out to find how easy it would be for young people (of drinking age, to keep it legal) to detect the presence of alcohol in alcopops and other alcoholic beverages, using a blind taste test that included a mixture of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Please note: this information was current as of July 2007 but is still a useful guide today.

Video: Alcopops

Some alcopops hide their spirits so well that young drinkers can't even taste them.



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