Clubgoers and their trendy cocktails: implications of mixing caffeine into alcohol on information processing and subjective reports of intoxication

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006 Nov;14(4):450-8. doi: 10.1037/1064-1297.14.4.450.


Alcoholic drink preferences in college students have made an interesting shift recently, with trends in consumption leaning toward caffeinated alcohol in various forms (e.g., Red Bull and vodka or caffeinated beers such as Anheuser-Busch's B-to-the-E). Despite the dramatic rise in popularity of these beverages, little research has examined the combined effects of alcohol and caffeine, which is problematic for adequately informing the public about the risk or lack thereof of these drinks. The purpose of this study was to directly investigate the acute effects of alcohol and caffeine, alone and in combination, on well-validated measures of cognitive performance and subjective intoxication in social drinkers. Participants (N = 12) performed a psychological refractory period task that measured dual-task interference as the prolonged reaction time to complete the 2nd of 2 tasks performed in close temporal sequence. Performance was tested under 2 active doses and 1 placebo dose of caffeine (0.0 mg/kg, 2.0 mg/kg, and 4.0 mg/kg) in combination with 1 active dose and 1 placebo dose of alcohol (0.0 g/kg and 0.65 g/kg). As expected, alcohol impaired task performance by increasing dual-task interference and increasing errors. The coadministration of caffeine counteracted the effects of alcohol on interference but had no effect on the degree to which alcohol increased errors. Subjective measures of intoxication showed that coadministration of caffeine with alcohol reduced participants' perceptions of alcohol intoxication compared with administration of alcohol alone. The results highlight the complexity of drug interactions between alcohol and caffeine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholic Beverages*
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / blood
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Caffeine
  • Ethanol