It’s Friday night at the end of a long week. You’re exhausted. The demands of work (and life) have beaten all the energy they can out of you. But the call of your PS5 or Xbox Series X is too tempting to overcome.
It’s true, the human body has its limits but sometimes you have to power past them to game, or to get some non-work work done, or to otherwise stay awake at a time when you really need sleep. That’s why energy drinks exist. Sure, you could drink coffee, but that’s boring. Energy drinks are like if coffee came from outer space and cyberspace at the same time, but in liquid popsicle form. That’s way cooler. Don’t ask how it makes sense, it just does.
While Monster may or may not be your preferred brand, there’s no doubt it’s one of the easiest energy drinks to find at both the most pristine and the most dirt-baggy corner stores in your neighborhood. But with more than 30 different flavors available, you’ll need some help sorting out the caffeinated wheat from the chaff. So here are the top Monster cans to look for as you do a dead-eyed shuffle to the corner store at 11:30 p.m.
There is “absolutely zero” reason to hate this flavor.
Credit: Monster Energy
If you’re racing to drink any energy drink, it’s safe to assume that your physical health isn’t at the top of the priority list. Believe it or not, though, some energy drinks at least offer the illusion of being better for you than others. Monster Absolutely Zero is one of them.
As its name suggests, Absolutely Zero has no calories and no sugar. It’ll still juice you up with 150mg of caffeine in a serving, but at least you’re avoiding those other two things the doctor tells you to cut down on while forcing your eyes open for another hour of Fortnite. Marketed as “sweet and salty with a citrus twist,” I’ve always found this flavor to be mild and refreshing…when I can find it. For whatever reason, it hardly shows up in stores near me, but I always make it a point to grab one when I see it.
Tasting notes: Surgically sweet citrus flavor that gets in and out without leaving a big aftertaste
Pairs well with: Cool Ranch Doritos and your favorite battle royale shooter like Fortnite
Rarity: Frustratingly hard to find (at least in my Brooklyn neighborhood)
Absolutely Zero isn’t the only Monster flavor with no sugar, though. The “Ultra” flavors, recognizable for their brightly colored aesthetic departure from the typical black Monster cans, are all sugar-free and will actually make up a lot of this list because they’re dope.
First up is Ultra Watermelon, which pretty much tastes exactly like any watermelon beverage you’ve ever had. It carries the refreshing sweetness of a watermelon soda with just a tinge of caffeinated-nightmare fuel that’s typical of any energy drink. If you know, you know; if you don’t, just imagine a tiny voice in the back of your head telling you it’s probably a bad idea to drink this, and then ignoring it because what does that dweeb know?
Tasting notes: Sweet and bitter watermelon taste that’s more like a Jolly Rancher than a drink
Pairs well with: A summer picnic and the most colorful video game you own, like The Artful Escape
Rarity: As common as real watermelons
I can already taste it
The previous two entries on this list offer a soft touch, with flavors that won’t force you to recoil from their sheer intensity and, instead, settle in over the course of a few seconds.
Monster Ultra Violet is the opposite.
This grape-flavored, sugar-free Monster drink feels a bit like it’s punching you in the face with the signature, tart taste of artificial grape flavoring. Like any other grape-flavored product, its relation to actual grapes is dubious at best, but I dig the unsubtle, harsh, and sour flavor profile of Ultra Violet.
Just make sure to restrict yourself to smaller sips. The kick of the flavor itself is almost enough to keep you awake without any caffeine.
Tasting notes: A forceful rush of artificial grape flavoring that borders on being rude
Pairs well with: Something masochistic that requires extreme focus, like Metroid Dread
Rarity: About a 50/50 chance of seeing it at any store
The margin between Monster Zero Ultra and the top flavor on this list is razor-thin. Ultimately, I had to make a choice to maintain the list’s integrity (I don’t believe in ties), but this iconic white-canned Monster flavor is in the upper echelon of energy drink superstardom.
Obviously, it tastes great. You get just a smidge of sweet citrus taste to go along with a flavor profile that I’d mostly describe as “beverage-like.” In other words, it sort of tastes like nothing, but it’s at least recognizable as liquid refreshment. And when your goal is simply to stay awake without experiencing a sugar crash later, there’s nothing better than Zero Ultra.
What Zero Ultra lacks in flavorful punch, it makes up for in pure utility.
Tasting notes: Cold refreshment distilled down to its very essence, with just a little hint of sweetness
Pairs well with: A bacon, egg, and cheese after a hangover and something relaxing, like The Sims
Rarity: As common as the blue in the sky
You can’t beat the OG
The most prevalent flavor of Monster at any convenience store also happens to be the best. Original Green comes in the signature black can with a bright green “M” logo, and is instantly recognizable in any refrigerator aisle. Unlike everything else on this list, it’s got 27g of sugar, but that doesn’t have to be such a bad thing.
It might actually contribute to its incomparable flavor. Original Green packs a punch, delivering a surge of liquid energy that’s like if you melted a bunch of sour Jolly Ranchers down and flash-cooled the resulting mess. It’s intense for newcomers, but so, so worth it. Do I want to know what it looks like outside of the can? No. But do I trust it with my life when I need to recharge? Absolutely.
Tasting notes: A sour thrill ride that feels like it’s flavor-blasting your tastebuds
Pairs well with: Any video game at all, it’s that good
Rarity: The omnipresent lifeblood of the corner store’s drink aisle
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