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.