Lifting the lid: Trashcan alcohol content reveals shared student misconception
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 02:10
The “Trashcan” is a popular alcoholic drink that can be purchased at a number of bars Uptown. Though most students have heard of the drink, few have an accurate idea of its alcohol content, according to a Miami Student investigation.
Sophomore Brandon Champion said he goes Uptown roughly once a week and has heard the Trashcan packs a six-standard-drink punch. Others are doubtful.
“I’ve heard everyone say six [shots in a Trashcan],” Junior Patrick Greitzer said. “I think it’s more like four.”
Carlee Gambler, general manager of Brick Street Bar and Grill, said Brick Street’s bar is best known for its Trashcans.
While holding two liquor bottles in each hand, upturned over the plastic cup, Gambler said a Trashcan contains vodka, gin, rum and triple sec. She then drizzled in blue curacao, added Sprite and topped it off with a can of Red Bull.
“It’s four ounces of liquor,” Gambler said.
Considering the alcohol content of a standard drink is equivalent to about 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, a Trashcan contains slightly less than three standard drinks.
Dr. Rose Marie Ward, associate professor in Miami University’s College of Education, Health, and Society, conducts research on the college drinking culture. She said she collects much of her data on High Street.
“I breathalyse students Uptown,” she said. “We ask them to estimate their [Blood Alcohol Level]. We also ask them how many drinks they had … and they say ‘yeah I had a Trashcan. Well, I say, ‘Yeah, what was in it? Who poured it?’”
Ward said students often are unaware of what they are drinking.
“There was a very low relationship between what they thought their BAL was and what it actually was,” Ward said, indicating students tend to think they are more inebriated than they actually are.
Dr. Messman-Moore, director of clinical training in Miami’s psychology department, often collaborates with Ward in her research.
Messman-Moore said people’s disposition can often be somewhat determined by their perception of what they are drinking and the act itself rather than what they are actually consuming.
“We hold these beliefs that alcohol will affect people in a certain way, and that when we drink, it will affect us in that way,” Messman-Moore said.
An anonymous, underage sophomore said she drinks Trashcans when she wants to have a fun night.
“They don’t taste bad and you can get drunk off them quickly,” she said. “But I’m sure there’s a placebo effect involved. There have been times that I’ve gone to the bar and had nothing to drink, but still feel a high from the loud music and crowd.”
Messman-Moore said expectancies are what allow students to feel more intoxicated than they are, be that from a misconception of the alcohol content of their drink, or any other factor.
“I’ve seen Trashcans take people from being kind of tipsy and buzzed to f***ed up,” Greitzer said. “It’s the act of seeing them take four bottles at once and [pour them into the cup]. That’s what tricks you.”
Sophomore Lisa Tageriello agreed.
“There’s a psychological factor,” she said. “Like, ‘Oh my God; it’s a Trashcan. I’m going to get so drunk.’”
Ward said that whether students are over or underestimating how much alcohol they are consuming, what’s disturbing is the fact many of them have no idea.
“[Students] really didn’t know what it meant,” Ward said, referring to her experience measuring students’ BAL Uptown. “They have a hard time understanding how much alcohol has what kind of effect on their bodies.”
Ward and Messman-Moore said it is impossible to generalize since not all students drink, however, those who do, drink regularly.
“What’s scary is that we’re not seeing that much of a change in who’s drinking—the prevalence of drinking—but in how much they’re drinking,” Ward said. “What’s striking is that the people who drink, drink a lot.”