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Blind Taste Test: The 10 Best Energy Drinks From The Corner Store

As far as I’m concerned, all energy drinks essentially taste the same: awful. Or, I should say, as far as I was concerned. I’m not an energy drink guy — I’m more likely to grab an espresso or black iced coffee (hell, sometimes just a Coke) when I feel sluggish. So when I set out to blind taste test every energy drink I could find at the corner store and my local market, I was shocked to find that all energy drinks do not, in fact, taste like virtually identical cans of chemical sludge.

They taste like slightly different cans of chemical sludge!

It’s not like I was able to place which flavor belonged to which can, I definitely wasn’t. But I discovered that there is a legitimate, non-brand-loyalty-related reason to prefer Monster over BANG, or vice versa. Will I give up coffee for a can of the new Starbust energy drink C4? Probably not, but if I ever do find myself in a situation where I need the unique boost of chaotic energy that only comes from cracking a can of the strong stuff, I now know which brand to go with.

These are the best corner-store energy drinks, blind taste-tested and ranked by flavor.

The Line Up:

Dane Rivera

Taste-testing 10 different energy drinks in one sitting gives you the kind of high that makes you say, “let’s take a crushed can photo.” That’s embarassing. Here’s our lineup!

  • Bang Blue Razz
  • Celsius Sparkling Watermleon
  • Starburst C4 Cherry
  • G Fuel Peach Rings
  • Kill Cliff Flaming Joe
  • Monster Energy Original
  • NOS GT Grape
  • Red Bull Original
  • Reign Melon Mania
  • Rockstar Original

The Taste Test:

Taste 1

Dane Rivera

It’s purple. I fully expected each of these to be completely clear because why go through the trouble of coloring the liquid? Is someone besides me drinking this out of a f*cking glass? Weird.

Anyway, this is bad. It smells like grape medicine but doesn’t even pack that level of flavor. A slight hint of chemical grape is all I taste mixed with, I want to say, water? It tastes as if you grabbed an empty bottle of cough syrup and poured seltzer water in it.

Taste 2

Dane Rivera

A chemical blueberry blast on the nose with a rotten syrup flavor. It’s strangely bitter and wince-inducing. Just awful.

Taste 3

Dane Rivera

A great fizz on this one. From the smell to the taste, this exactly matches the experience of tearing open a fresh bag of sour peach rings. It’s highly artificial, but not totally unenjoyable.

I just can’t see myself killing a whole can of this stuff, it’s overwhelmingly chemical.

Taste 4

Dane Rivera

Again with the colors. This one turned out strangely pleasant. It has a refreshing crisp scent and a lightly sweetened flavor that doesn’t taste like complete poison like the last few tastes. I tentatively like this one.

Taste 5

Dane Rivera

My girlfriend, who poured each of these samples out of my sight, must’ve been so shocked by the insane color of this one that she spilled it all over the plate. I was scared to get a taste of this one, it looks like an angrier version of Mountain Dew. But like the last taste, I think I like this one.

It has a light pineapple flavor with a slight spicy burn on the backend. It’s not overwhelming, it’s subtle and gently sweet. Maybe they’re onto something with these colors.

Taste 6

Dane Rivera

After the last two pleasant flavors, this was an absolute shock to the system. It’s sickly sweet with an awful melon flavor that sticks to your tongue and teeth.

I felt like I needed to brush my teeth after a single drink of this noxious brew.

Taste 7

Dane Rivera

This one smells familiar and has a flavor that bounces between orange and artificial cherry. I’m guessing this is the Starburst flavor, but it doesn’t taste anything like Cherry Starburst, so I can’t be sure.

Taste 8

Dane Rivera

The color on this one is just awful. It looks like the prop urine samples you see in hospital shows. An unhealthy yellow-brown glow. This one has some bite, with a spikey flavor that has subtle bubble gum notes.

It seems like a good choice to mix with alcohol, I’m going to guess this is the Red Bull.

Taste 9

Dane Rivera

It doesn’t have a clear flavor to it, kind of basic with a sort of cotton candy sweetness. It’s okay.

Taste 10

Dane Rivera

This one has a sort of balance to it that the others don’t have. It’s sweet, but not to the point of tasting like candy, and it has a great crispness to it. This is the only one that I feel is palatable enough to drink a whole can of, definitely the highlight of the lineup.

The Ranking:

10. Reign — Melon Mania (Taste 6)

Dane Rivera

Reign Meloon Mania contains BCAA Aminos and Coenzyme Q10 and I have absolutely no idea what any of that means. If you do, good for you, but don’t let that tempt you into trying this energy drink. It tastes absolutely awful and no promise of energy is worth that.

The Bottom Line:

Melon Mania is right. Reign goes absolutely nuts with the flavors here and the way the smell sticks to your breath is offensive. This is bottom of the barrel stuff.

Find Reign here.

9. Nos — Gt Grape (Taste 1)

Dane Rivera

52 grams of sugar in a single can of NOS GT Grape and it tastes like absolute shit. It honestly tastes like dirty water. Just do yourself a flavor and drink a Coca-Cola. It’s less sugar, more flavor, and probably healthier for you. When can you ever say that about Coca-Cola?

The Bottom Line:

Not nearly as fun as an energy drink called Nos should be.

Find Nos here.

8. Bang — Blue Razz (Taste 2)

Dane Rivera

Bang features 180 mg of caffeine, BCAAs, B-Vitamins, and has absolutely no sugar, putting it at a nice zero calories. This energy drink has the stats to promise you a considerable jolt, but with no sugar in it, it hardly has any flavor.

It tastes sort of like an old White Claw that you left out in the sun.

The Bottom Line:

Keep looking, the name Blue Razz might lead you to believe this is packing flavor but it’s not.

Find Bang Energy here.

7. Starburst C4 — Cherry (Taste 7)

Dane Rivera

Who at the Starburst offices pitched the idea of an energy drink, and why the hell did they decide to call it C4? Starburst sounds fantastical, it conjures a delicious image but C4? That’s an explosive.

It almost feels like this energy drink is a Nathan Fielder skit. That said, C4 delivers 200mg of caffeine with zero sugar — which is saying something.

The Bottom Line:

It doesn’t taste quite as good as a Cherry Starburst, but it sort of tastes the way the Cherry Starburst wrapper smells. That’s something, right?

Find C4 here.

6. Monster Energy — Original (Taste 9)

Dane Rivera

Monster Energy was one of the first energy drinks to hit the mainstream. It’s a standard and eats up most of the shelf space at the corner store, alongside Rockstar and Red Bull. It’s easily the worst of the big three though. Monster Energy tastes overly candied, it’s practically a soda.

As far as energy drinks go though, this stuff is also pretty mild — only supplying 160mg of caffeine per 16 ounce can. It’s got a stronger kick than Coca-Cola, but it’s nowhere near as good.

The Bottom Line:

The Mountain Dew of energy drinks.

Find Monster Energy here.

5. G Fuel — Sonic’s Peach Rings (Taste 3)

Dane Rivera

Okay, maybe I should’ve picked a flavor of G-Fuel that wasn’t a limited-edition flavor, but how could I resist an energy drink with Sonic the Hedgehog on it? Gotta go fast, baby!

This brew features 300 mg of caffeine and zero sugar but packs a whole lot of flavor, making it our first flavor in the ranking that could actually be described as “good-ish.” A whole can might be overwhelming, but if you’re looking for a lighter boost I definitely recommend sharing a can of this peach-flavored energy drink.

The Bottom Line:

Flavorful, in a can big enough to share with a friend. Use it in a cocktail as a peach-flavored soda base. This plus your favorite gin is a winner.

Find G Fuel here.

4. Rockstar — Original (Taste 8)

Dane Rivera

As I mentioned before, Rockstar is one of the big three. It’s been around for seemingly as long as energy drinks at the corner store have been a thing and I don’t know how to describe its flavor as anything other than “energy drink flavored.” What did surprise me about this one was its sharp bite. It has a burn to it and I find that incredibly appealing in an energy drink.

It’s like this one isn’t trying to hide that it’s poison for your body. I respect that.

The energy here is supplied via 160 mg of caffeine and a blend of guarana, taurine, and B-vitamins, but is also packed with 270 calories and 63 grams of sugar, which means a can of this is a guaranteed crash.

The Bottom Line:

Sweet with a sharp bite that begs to be mixed in a cocktail.

Find Rockstar here.

3. Kill Cliff — Flaming Joe (Taste 5)

Dane Rivera

Of course there is a Joe Rogan branded energy drink and of course it has hemp in it and features can art that depicts Joe Rogan with a third eye. It’s so on the nose that it feels like a joke or proof that the world we live in isn’t real, but I’m actually surprised at how delicious this stuff is.

Made by Kill Cliff, Flaming Joe features 25mg of CBD per can, B-Vitamins, electrolytes, zero grams of sugar, and only clocks in at 20 calories per can. On top of all of that, it has a great flavor. I almost feel like this one deserves to be ranked higher.

The Bottom Line:

You shouldn’t be surprised there is a Joe Rogan branded energy drink, but you will be surprised at just how good it is.

Find Kill Cliff here.

2. Celsius — Sparkling Watermelon (Taste 4)

Dane Rivera

Celsius is clearly trying to do something different with its brand of energy drinks. They’ve reframed from the intense macho branding that most of the brands feel obligated to use and they double down on that with a flavor that tastes refreshing and sweet without delving into that chemical territory that so many energy drinks live in.

Each can of Celsius Sparkling Watermleon features a blend of ginger root, guarana seed and green tea extract, Vitamins B and C, and Chromium.

The Bottom Line:

It seems like Celsius is a little more dedicated to their ingredient sourcing than the other brands, whether that translates to a more or less effective energy drink, it’s tough to say (because I tasted ten of these things all together!). But it tastes great!

Find Celsius here.

1. Red Bull — Original (Taste 10)

Dane Rivera

I’m surprised that Red Bull took this competition, I assumed it would hit the middle of the list along with Rockstar and Monster. But I had by far the best experience drinking this one. Alongside its well-balanced taste and crisp gentle bite, I really love the form factor. It comes in a very drinkable 8.4 ounce can that is easy to finish but still gives you that caffeine and B-vitamin boost that leaves you alert and energized.

At 110 calories per can and 27g of sugar, it’s still dangerously sweet and in no ways healthy or good for you, so don’t think its number one spot is an endorsement of the thing. We just think it tastes the best.

The Bottom Line:

The Coca-Cola of energy drinks. It’s not offensively sweet but has that crisp familiar energy drink flavor that’ll satisfy your craving for a carbonated drink that also delivers a strong buzz.

Find Red Bull here.