After writing a commentary about drinking less in 2022, I received an email from a representative of SOBAR, a producer of what the company calls, “The snack designed for drinking.” A SOBAR is, as described by the company, “a high-protein functional food designed to be consumed right before or during drinking to help control alcohol absorption.”
I was curious about the claims made in the initial email, things like “A Neuroscientist have created and clinically evaluated this game changer, to help change the drinking experience.
(If you think the wording from the email odd, just know that’s exactly how it was written.)
In this case, “improve the drinking experience” means SOBAR does the following, according to the company’s website:
- Helps to avoid that rapid spike of blood alcohol that can happen when you drink on an empty stomach.
- Helps to keep your blood alcohol concentration lower through reducing its absorption and increasing its metabolism.
- As part of a smarter drinking plan, SOBAR can help reduce the chances of feeling lousy the day after.
About a week after I wrote my initial draft of this commentary, I got a news release saying the U.S. Patent Office has been granted an allowance from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office “for its Alco-HOLD food-technology core to its SOBAR protein bar brand. SOBAR is a first-of-its-kind snack designed and clinically validated to reduce alcohol absorption and "slow a drinker's buzz."
I take that as a positive endorsement of the product. But my personal experience with it still applies. So, here goes.
In the interest of smart alcohol consumption science, I accepted the offer of a box of SOBARs and enlisted my wife to join me in this significant research. Our results—as you likely assume—were mixed.
The first time we tried them, we were on the road, and I hadn’t read the instructions. So, on completely empty stomachs, we each ate one SOBAR 30 minutes before heading out to celebrate my wife’s birthday. (We later saw the instructions on the box, which read, “eat 5 to 15 minutes before drinking.”) When we finished our first cocktail, we both agreed the effects of the alcohol weren’t nearly as pronounced as they would have been without SOBAR onboard.
Since that evening’s plans required no driving, we had a second drink, still without eating any food. Once finished, we agreed that the effects from drink No. 2 were almost equal to what they would have been had we not eaten a SOBAR. And at both stops, we each consumed at least one glass of water.
"The last test was eating a SOBAR before a 10 a.m. barrel pick. I was really hopeful this would be positive since keeping a SOBAR in the car for pre-pick consumption would save the cash and time ordinarily spent on gobbling down a gut-liner just before hitting a distillery."
Several days later, and knowing how to use SOBAR correctly, we tested them again. Despite drinking the same cocktail on empty stomachs, I felt SOBAR’s impact was highly positive while my wife said the booze went right to her head. On another occasion when drinking the same drink, the exact opposite happened. Go figure.
A week later I was in my office getting ready to review some whiskeys a few hours after lunch. I ate a SOBAR and set to sipping, and I felt only some discernible slowing of what was, admittedly, high-proof alcohol.
The last test was eating a SOBAR before a 10 a.m. barrel pick. I was really hopeful this would be positive since keeping a SOBAR in the car for pre-pick consumption would save the cash and time ordinarily spent on gobbling down a gut-liner just before hitting a distillery. Long story short, SOBAR may have helped some, but it didn’t delay the booze’s impact much. To be fair, we were drinking barrel-strength whiskey, though not much of it. The sample offering was just three barrels, and since the favorite emerged quickly, we didn’t revisit the others much.
My conclusion: By and large, SOBAR helps slow alcohol absorption. Doubtless, it beats drinking on an empty stomach. Their flavor varieties mean they’re pretty tasty—for protein bars, anyway—so I never minded eating them.
For what it’s worth, I never considered eating a second bar when out that night with my wife. After the second drink, we were eating dinner, so real food was slowing the alcohol absorption. Now, however, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to have one handy if a meal is delayed.
SOBARs also are largely healthful. Weighing just 1.6 ounces, each bar supplies 12 grams of protein and three grams of fiber along with 130-calories, one gram of fat, 90 milligrams of sodium and 22 grams of carbohydrates. Compare that to a stomach-lining, pre-pub-crawling McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese that delivers 520 calories, 26 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbs, 30 grams of protein and 1,360 milligrams of sodium. A box of nine SOBARs costs $24—$2.66 each—about half the cost of a McD’s QP.
Curious to try them? Click here for the company’s product page.
Steve Coomes is editor of BourbonBanter.com. A Louisville restaurant industry veteran turned award-winning food writer, he has edited and written for dozens of national trade and consumer publications including Pizza Today, Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living over his 31-year journalism career. As a spirits writer, Steve's work can be found in Bourbon Plus, Bourbon Review, Bourbon & Banter, WhiskeyWash.com and other publications. In 2014, he authored the book, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and has authored other titles as a private ghostwriter.
Read Steve's full profile.