Why This Aussie Pub Took Energy Drinks Clean Off Its Menu
Cocktails of energy drinks and alcohol have been linked to risky behaviour, gambling and even a greater risk of death.
When a married couple took over the management of a rundown but charming pub in regional New South Wales, they made one tiny change that significantly boosted the mood of their entire clientele: they banned energy drinks.
Craig and Narelle Want -- who had never worked in hospitality before -- took over the old Jacaranda Pub in Grafton three years ago.
Not long after, they made the decision to take Red Bull off the menu.
"You noticed behaviour changes in people [after they drink energy drinks]," Narelle told ten daily over the phone.
"They're full of beans. You just noticed it... it's like a drug, it's just like taking a tablet."
"Everyone was getting hyped up and getting cranky with each other," added Craig. "One we got rid of it, we noticed there wasn't as much fighting and carrying on as what there used to be."
In fact, Craig says they haven't had a violent incident in the past two years.
People do still come in and request a vodka and Red Bull, but now they're simply offered a vodka, Coke and raspberry cordial instead. "That seems to satisfy them," said Narelle.
The couple said it wasn't just the anti-social behaviour that prompted their decision, but the risk of heart problems that have come to be associated with energy drinks as a whole.
It comes as the role of energy drinks and alcohol are once again coming in to question, following the tragic death of a 15-year-old girl after consuming a cocktail of alcohol, energy drinks and lollies.
While a post-mortem examination is yet to be conducted, the teenager returned a blood alcohol level of 0.4.
Police believe she sourced the recipe online, and then "put that information to the test."
At least one Australian study has shown that energy drinks can mask the affects of inebriation, and a different study, conducted by Victoria Health, found that this made energy drinks appealing for young people: if you can't feel the effects of alcohol, then you can drink more.
In Canada, researchers found a link between energy drinks mixed with alcohol and a greater risk of accidents and injuries.
And research published just last year found that for the one in 2000 Australians with QT Syndrome -- a largely unnoticed syndrome where for some sufferers, the first symptom is sudden cardiac arrest -- drinking just one energy drink can put them at risk of death.
Cardiologist Dr. Chris Semsarian, one of the authors of the study, said that for ethical reasons, they could only give people in the study a low dose of energy drinks, "but the reality is, many young people will consume four or more energy drinks with alcohol a night."
Researchers in WA have been urging for energy drinks to be banned for children since 2016, citing health risks from binge-drinking energy drinks that could lead to vomiting, reflux, abdominal pain and even "life-endangering levels of toxicity."
In fact, calls to restrict sales of energy drinks -- either with alcohol or alone -- have been around for decades, with reports of related deaths going back as far as 2001.
Earlier this year, supermarkets in the UK banned the sale of energy drinks to people under 16 years old, but so far, no similar ban has been seen in Australia.
Craig and Narelle told ten daily that they've tried to encourage other venues to follow suit with their energy drinks ban, but to no avail.
"They still sell it," Narelle said, sounding resigned.
"We put it down to the fact that we care about people. We sell alcohol, which is a drug, but we do monitor how much people have."
"We've made the right call," added Craig.
"We're worried about young people, and people in our community, and we think it's a terrible thing that they drink [energy drinks and alcohol]. I don't like it whatsoever. It was never meant to be drunk with alcohol, and yet people do.
"It just makes it worse."