Red Bull’s silver can is cherished by after-hours clubbers and workaholics alike. But the energy drink’s success might be threatened – not by one of its super-caffeinated knockoffs, but by the original Thai version of the drink (“Krating Daeng”) now being sold in New York to authenticity-obsessed hipsters. Both have the dueling-bull logo and mysterious “taurine” ingredient. An Austrian entrepreneur bought the foreign rights to the syrupy, uncarbonated Thai drink in 1986, added fizz, and marketed it as a smart drink-cum-mixer. Exports of his version began here in 1997.
Since Centro-Fly began stocking Krating in late January, sales have more than doubled. “We sold 67 cases last weekend, and people were begging for more,” says club owner Tom Sisk. “I’m thinking of ordering a thousand, but I’m not sure if my source can handle it.”
The appeal of Krating? No nasty bubbles, for one thing. Also, the heavy brown-glass bottle has a retro, medicinal feel, which trendy folk like. There’s also price: It goes for less than $20 a case in Chinatown, whereas Red Bull costs $32. One Chinatown store owner says sales are so brisk that he’s sometimes forced to keep bottles hidden under the counter. “White, black, Asian, whatever,” he says. “They all come for this drink.”