When I got to that awkward age when you desire to drink alcohol yet still secretly hate the taste, I was excited to find that lemonade covered up the taste of vodka, gin and other clear spirits quite well. Although my palate has improved, I still enjoy the occasional grown-up lemonade to this day. I usually purchase the ubiquitous Mike's Hard Lemonade out of habit. But this past weekend, I was inspired to compare it to another national brand, Smirnoff Classic Lemonade. I thought it prudent to conduct this taste test poolside with a friend, so we could pretend to be like those fun-loving chicks in booze commercials.
Mike's Original Hard Lemonade
Mike's Hard Lemonade has been around for roughly a decade and dominates the market. To many a dieter's delight, the company now offers a light version, but comparing the diet version to Smirnoff's seemed like comparing apples to oranges (or light lemons to regular?), so I stuck with the full-calorie variety. A more alcoholic version, Mike's Harder Lemonade, is also available for those who want to get real drunk, real fast, off of spiked lemonade, but I do try to have some standards when it comes to alcohol consumption.
During my taste test, I quickly remembered why Mike's is a crowd favorite: Its sweet, fizzy quality makes for a pleasant soda-juice-cocktail combo. But the flavor is more generic citrus than straight-up lemon, and I wouldn't have known I was drinking lemonade unless I had read the label.
Smirnoff Classic Lemonade
One of a series of malt beverages from Smirnoff, the Classic Lemonade followed a few years after the very successful debut of Smirnoff Ice. For those who enjoy an additional infusion of fruit with their hard lemon libations, Smirnoff also offers a blueberry and lemonade beverage as well as a "Tuscan" lemonade, which combines vodka, limoncello (the Italian lemon liquor) and lemon juice.
Smirnoff's Lemonade benefits from a purer, less saccharine flavor; however, the bitter aftertaste that emerged after a few swigs made me feel as if I were drinking cough syrup. Also contributing to its unappetizing character is the murky yellow color, which makes it resemble, well, urine.
Reluctantly, Mike's, though I personally have had better experiences with 'hard' lemonade when I mix regular lemonade with a shot of vodka.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.