Cafe Society

Can iX MiXer nix hangovers?

Imagine a world without hangovers. Go on, imagine: ten-day benders without alcohol poisoning; all-night binges with 8 a.m. board meetings the next day; the end of brain-numbing, stomach-souring, entire-day-losing debilitation at the groping, productivity-pilfering hands of booze. It's glorious, this make-believe world where adults can drink whatever they like, as much as they like, and not feel like the crusty lining of a septic tank the morning after.

Sadly, such a world can never exist. Not ever.

But that hasn't stopped four friends from the suburbs of Denver from trying to create it, from attempting to subdue the shakes, diminish the dry heaves and tame the inevitable katzenjammer once and for all. Cynicism, it turns out, ain't got nothin' on iX MiXer.

Boyhood friends since the seventh grade, Nick, Jeff and Guy met at Littleton's Deer Creek Middle School in 1992. Guy, recently transplanted from a small Episcopalian elementary school in Atlanta, was "scared shitless" by Deer Creek's size, but Jeff befriended him. The two tried out for football: Guy found the perfect athletic outlet for his modest height and frame and went on to play all four years at Mullen High; Jeff, an aspiring quarterback, broke his arm on the second day of practice and his mother never let him take another snap. So he joined the basketball team and ran track at Chatfield High. Nick, also at Chatfield, played hockey — mostly EA Sports' NHL '95 on the Sega Genesis. District restructuring after his sophomore year sent Nick to Dakota Ridge, but the three remained friends despite different daytime routines, bonding over countless NHL '95 tournaments with complex brackets and a homemade traveling trophy, an amateur work of art built from a standard trophy base with a gold spray-painted jock-strap cup glued (with chewing gum) in the original figurine's place. "We were just fucking lame," Nick admits.

Though they lived in different dorms during their freshman year at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the three friends took a spring-break road trip to California, where Guy got himself a hideous two-headed panther tattoo. They shared an apartment their sophomore year, partied together constantly their junior year, and went to Vegas together when they all turned 21. Guy remembers losing one of their friends on the Strip for the better part of a night; Nick remembers Guy getting on top of a table at the exotic rumjungle nightclub inside Mandalay Bay and stripping down to his skivvies before a bouncer showed up. While on the trip, Nick introduced Guy and Jeff to his friend Lisa, a Littleton native, Chatfield grad and CU senior.

Eight years later, these four would form a private corporation with the goal of overcoming the mighty hangover. But at the time, they were just intent on acquiring one.

Fast-forward to 2008: Nick Rolston is a bartender at the Squire Lounge, Guy Adams a former restaurant manager turned private investment firm owner, Lisa a CU employee and Jeff a salesman for a start-up software-development company (which is why he asks that their last names not appear in this story). Lisa and Jeff are married. One morning, after a raucous Bloc Party concert at the Ogden Theatre, Jeff was driving back to Denver from a sales meeting in Greeley. Somewhere along I-25, he realized that he was more hung over than he'd ever been in his entire life and decided that the Jack-and-Cokes he'd always relied upon for good times were to blame.

Alcohol — which stimulates urine production (dehydration), irritates the lining of the stomach (nausea), decreases blood-sugar levels (fatigue) and expands blood vessels (headaches) — is the obvious cause of the common hangover. But Jeff wasn't interested in quitting the sauce, and he certainly couldn't control how liquor is made. What he could control, however, is how he mixed his liquor. With college football season in full swing, Jeff took to mixing vodka with Boulder-based Izze soda at weekly Buffs tailgates. He found relief in Izze's natural ingredients, as well as the absence of high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives and caffeine. He was hooked – until he discovered that most bars don't carry Izze. At which point Jeff, with the support of his wife and best friends, made a $115,000 decision.

The beverage development process begins with product ideation. Point Brands — the eventual name of the friends' private corporation, with Lisa as president, Jeff as CEO, Guy as director of operations and Nick as director of marketing — knew exactly what it wanted: "an all-natural, sparkling alcoholic-beverage mixer enhanced with vitamins and electrolytes to keep you hydrated while drinking and minimize the effects of a hangover," Nick says.

"People ultimately understand the value of vitamins and electrolytes," adds Jeff. So if they're looking to Gatorade and other sports drinks containing vitamins and electrolytes to cure the common hangover, they might as well begin the recovery process the night before. As for real sugar (sucrose), no caffeine and other all-natural ideals: "We didn't want to be associated with anything unnatural," Jeff explains. "We wanted to be associated with something that is as good as it gets when you're talking about a mixer for booze."

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Drew Bixby

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