An Alternative To Mike’s Hard Lemonade
May 15, 2021 2:33 PM   Subscribe

I almost never drink, but when I do I like to drink things that don’t have a strong alcohol taste and have a relatively low alcohol level, but still some alcohol. Mike’s hard lemonade (5% alcohol) hits the spot for me. I know it’s not a “cool” drink but I don’t care. Unfortunately for me my local store is constantly sold out of the original lemonade flavor, which to me is the best by longshot.

They usually have one other flavor but I don’t always love them. Is there another popular, likely to be found at my regular grocery store alternative I can get when they’re out of Mike’s? It doesn’t need to be a lemonade flavor just something lighter in taste and alcohol (but not necessarily calories).
posted by Aranquis to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe Smirnoff Ice? They have different flavors that might be comparable.
posted by hazel79 at 2:35 PM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Citrus Truly hits that spot for me. But it also goes down *too* easy and hits me like a ton of bricks. YMMV.
posted by nixxon at 2:38 PM on May 15, 2021

Have you tried hard cider? They are usually pretty sweet and little alcohol taste
posted by gzimmer at 2:44 PM on May 15, 2021 [8 favorites]

Cider can be hit or miss; as it's gotten more cred, a lot of cider has gotten less sweet. My wife loves the sweet end, so I've found I can be safe getting a pear cider. They always seem to be nice and sweet, with a little tartness and not much alcohol flavor.
posted by rikschell at 2:48 PM on May 15, 2021 [11 favorites]

Truly Lemonade Seltzers are a very good upgrade from Mike's (which tastes sickly sweet to me), and those are still very sweet compared to all the other hard seltzers. Truly also makes Tea (+ fruit flavor) seltzers that are very good.

But I will warn you: while there are fans of black cherry hard seltzer out there, to the point that many variety packs have a cherry flavor, it's fucking vile. Red nyQuil vile. Something is wrong with people. I prefer the Truly Citrus pack if I don't get the tea or lemonade ones, because it's got no cherry in it and the regular and Berry variety does. Bud and Corona also make completely passable hard seltzers, just watch for that cherry.

Like Mike's, you can accidentally get trashed drinking hard seltzer like it's water, so be careful on your first forays. Those cans feel very tiny in your hand.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:52 PM on May 15, 2021 [8 favorites]

I just picked up some Henry's Hard Orange, which is similar but possibly sweeter. I know they have a grape one that is also pretty sweet. I drink a lot of La Croix, but I have yet to find a hard seltzer I can drink straight. If you are looking for something fruity, the seltzer might not be fruity enough to overcome the alcohol flavor. I agree your Smirnoff Ice and such will be good, but not as lemony.
posted by soelo at 2:52 PM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I there a lemonade/ citrus-ey soft drink that you like?

Spike that with vodka to the strength that you want.
posted by porpoise at 4:04 PM on May 15, 2021 [8 favorites]

Look for lambic beers. The raspberry one (frambois?) tastes like sparkly raspberry juice, it's so good. Or look for radlers. Pink Randler from the Sands brewery in the Bahamas is super tasty, like a sparkly grapefruit juice but doesn't taste too strongly like grapefruit, and they have other flavors too. I'm sure other breweries make great radlers as well.
posted by at 4:20 PM on May 15, 2021 [8 favorites]

Smirnoff Ice and Zima are both in that category, in case you can find them. (I like Mike's too!)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:23 PM on May 15, 2021

Crabbie's is alcoholic ginger beer and quite tasty.
posted by jameaterblues at 4:26 PM on May 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

If you're interested in hard seltzer and have access to Aldi, they have a great inexpensive house brand called Vista Bay.

Look at ingredients for any brand you try. The good ones say something like 'cane alcohol' which is basically light rum. Way better than the malt-liquor based ones.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:44 PM on May 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Gin and tonic. Use as much tonic as you want.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:51 PM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

White Claw.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:53 PM on May 15, 2021 [5 favorites]

Oh hi, me! I agree that Henry’s Hard Sodas are a decent alternative when Mikes isn’t available. That said, I love Mikes so much I try to buy a case whenever I can to avoid being without it!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:54 PM on May 15, 2021

It's been a while since I've had them, but Woodchuck hard ciders are pretty low alcohol and don't have a strong alcohol taste.
posted by yasaman at 4:59 PM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Palm Bay hits it for me, but they are definately sweet (I love the lime cherry). They come in sparkling cans or freezies (again my favourite. I buy them buy the case). I find Mike’s to be stronger than Palm Bay.
posted by saucysault at 5:12 PM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

"Hard" kombucha is a thing now, and so far my favorite is Jiant's grapefruit & hibiscus flavor. It's fizzy, which may not be what you want. Hard kombucha in general is probably less reliably stocked than Mike's. But it's worth trying out if you run across a box/pack.
posted by spamandkimchi at 5:34 PM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I like the fruity New Glarus beers. I've tried their Raspberry Tart, Serendipity, and Belgian Red, and they've all been very tasty, fruity and sweet.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 5:38 PM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

If you’re willing to mix up a cocktail, the Paloma (2 oz. tequila, juice half a lime, half a Squirt, and a pinch of salt) is one of my favorites and hits nearly the exact same happy paths as a hard lemonade without the sickly sweetness you sometimes get with Mike’s/Smirnoff Ice. Also, very easy to whip up in a pitcher. Replace the squirt with grapefruit Jarritos or San Pelligrino’s pompelmo/grapefruit flavor for an upgrade.
posted by protocoach at 5:48 PM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Coming in to say hard kombucha, so I'll second that. I like Strainge Beast's passion fruit-hops-blood orange flavor a lot, but that's fairly high alcohol (7% I think). Flying Embers is also very good (esp. the grapefruit flavor) and is probably around 5% so that might be a better choice. But there are a lot of brands with interesting flavors out there now.

I'll also second Truly, the pineapple flavor is quite nice, and most of the White Claw flavors are also easy to drink. If you like fake-y/candy fruit flavors, Bud Light Seltzer's alright too. I found the Michelob Ultra seltzer kind of off-putting (I think I had the Cucumber Lime, which I would have expected to like but it was borderline gross).
posted by snaw at 5:49 PM on May 15, 2021

If Blakes Cider is distributed near you, I think their lemonade ciders are like Mike's but better. I've found them at Trader Joes.
posted by Candleman at 6:10 PM on May 15, 2021

Generally I find that mixed drinks are easier to find than like, really good session beers (which do exist for sure, but are hard to find) and like, german raddlers and stuff. All of those are good, but cocktails are easier to make lighter. (This may or may not meet your 'grocery store alternative' depending on where you live).

Shrubs are really good bases for adding alcohol to, and honestly, certain scaled down punches (some punch recipes punches can be deceivingly boozy, so beware and alter recipes to meet your goals). Shrubs are nice enough on their own, that usually adding booze is a secondary flavor anyway, so skimping on them. I like more botanical-vibe shrubs, but they're all over the place. A brief guide, and google will get you to flavors you like.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:51 PM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Stiegl grapefruit radler is an excellent summer drink. Low alcohol, great citrus taste.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:06 PM on May 15, 2021 [4 favorites]

The Jack Daniels country cocktails are pretty good, too. Hard ciders, hard rootbeers (though they seem to be REALLY hard to find right now), umm...

We tried the seltzers, and that's a hard pass for us. Also, those drinks that look like kids' juices in the little ball-shaped bottles, I can't think what they're called, they didn't come anywhere near drinkable.
posted by stormyteal at 9:50 PM on May 15, 2021

A lot of enticing recommendations in this thread! I will add my +1 to the suggestion that you at least give White Claw or a similar competitor product a chance. I’ve been enjoying them the last year or so, and they definitely meet the “can easily grab a 12-pack at the drugstore or grocery store” criteria.
posted by Zephyrial at 11:36 PM on May 15, 2021

Recently, on a whim, I ordered something called "Coconuts Nigori" from my sushi place. It's a cold sake that tastes like coconut, or as I like to say, it tastes like my body wash smells. But like... in a good way? It's been a fun discovery. Definitely not found in grocery stores, but it's something to try for those of us who don't like the taste of alcohol.
posted by edlundart at 2:01 AM on May 16, 2021

Bud Light has a new lemonade seltzer I tried yesterday, it was a little less sweet than I remember Mikes being, but its been awhile since I had a hard lemonade!
posted by foxonisland at 1:11 PM on May 17, 2021

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