Hammer taste tests new sensation Steve Hammer As anyone who knows me can tell you, I love alcoholic beverages. And I love the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. I’ve combined the two many times over the years and have had great results. So when the opportunity came to test a new alcoholic malt beverage that was, according to its manufacturer, “inspired by the Artist Formerly Known As Prince,” I was on it faster than Bill Clinton accepting an invitation to speak at a girls boarding school. The drink, called Four, is a new beverage that combines caffeine, guarana and taurine, all powerful stimulants, with wormwood oil, the ingredient used in the infamous absinthe. It was created, say its makers, “to liven up the dance steps of hotties from coast to coast.” It also packs a wallop in the form of 6 percent alcohol content, slightly stronger than the strongest beers on the market. But, when packaged in 16-ounce cans, it’s an amazing experience. I scammed two cans of it from a case that was sent to my boss, Jim Poyser. I took them home and unveiled them that night. The first sip was interesting. I was expecting a nasty, Red Bull-style drink, but it was surprisingly fruity. A blend of berry flavors overwhelm the palate. It makes you want to drink more of it. In short order, we’d finished off the two cans and sat looking at them, forlornly. “Wheredidyougetthisstuff?” my friend asked me. “IgotitfromPoyser,” I said. “Prettygoodisn’tit?” “Yes,” she said. “Youmustgetmore.” One can made me a little tipsy, but wired as hell. It was like slamming four espressos and following it with a shot of vodka, then eating an entire box of Cap’n Crunch Berry cereal. I wanted more Four. I needed more. I had to wait, though. It’s not yet in all local stores and Poyser had only given me two cans. When I returned to the office on Monday, I was insistent. “I need more of that drink,” I said. “I must have it. It is the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.” There were a few more cans in the office refrigerator. I greedily snatched up seven of them and took them home. I opened a can while watching a Pistons game with my buddy. “Goes down pretty smooth,” he said. “Suredoes,” I said. I felt strange, like my hand was suddenly larger than the rest of my body. I slammed down another can. It looked like Ben Wallace had stopped playing basketball and had started dancing à la Saturday Night Fever. The purple Princess Di Beany Bear, the lone remaining artifact from my ex-live-in girlfriend, started talking to me from its exile on a shelf in the living room. “Why did you put me here?” the bear asked. “I need love. Why don’t you love me?” I ran to the Beany Bear, grabbed it and threw it off the balcony. “And tell those Precious Moments dolls to go to hell, too.” Four is the first legal alcoholic beverage in 100 years in the United States to contain wormwood oil. In large amounts, it is said to produce hallucinogenic effects, but the amount in Four is not enough to do so. Or is it? I drained the can. It was smooth as silk, until the very last, long pull, after which I experienced an aftertaste that reminded me of cough syrup. I felt a sudden panic, like I had done something very, very, very wrong to my body. I got on my computer and started typing on the Hammer Show forums at nuvo.net. In about eight seconds, I had typed one long sentence. “Yeah, man, I can see myself getting addicted to it because it gets you wired and also gives you that alcohol buzz and something tells me this stuff shouldn’t be legal, or won’t stay legal very long because it is like Red Bull with a shot of Everclear and a microdot of acid.” Thirty seconds later, I wrote, “I will do three days’ work in the next two hours.” At a suggested retail price of $1.99 per can, Four is not cheap, but it’s well worth it. It’s good for drinking late at night, to keep the party going, or early in the morning, when orange juice doesn’t sound like a good idea. Since my experiment ended, I have found myself opening the refrigerator and looking forlornly at the empty space where my cache of Four once resided. I want more Four. I need more Four. And, surely, somewhere, people more attractive than I am are sipping the stuff and dancing and making amorous plans. And Prince, or whatever he calls himself these days, must be nodding in approval. For more information on this most miraculous beverage, visit drinkfour.com. And drop off another case of it at my office. They bill the stuff as an aphrodisiac and my testing is not yet done.