Chicken Essence Is Southeast Asia’s Red Bull

Red Bull—it’s the elixir of energy, the ambrosia of athletes, the drink that gives you wings. But let’s be honest, while Red Bull might put an extra pep (or ten) in your step, from a taste perspective, it’s pretty rank.

During my college days, as papers and project deadlines loomed, I remember having to wade through crumpled Red Bull cans and empty caffeine pill strips strewn over the sidewalk on my way to lectures. That sickly sweet, medicinal stench of stale Red Bull still lingers in the depths of my olfactory memory, even today. And all my life, I’m proud to say that I’ve never had Red Bull voluntarily, because in my native home of Malaysia, we drink chicken essence instead.