Mike's Hard Lemonade is a malt beverage the exact composition of which is patented. However, as a malt-liquor drink, it contains no vodka and its current marketing and packaging reflect this.

A bit stronger than its chief rival, Doc Otis (made by Anheuser-Busch), Mike's Hard Lemonade is 5.2% alcohol, and can be sold in gas stations and grocery stores in states which prohibit distilled liquors in such venues.

Drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade until intoxicated is not something I would recommend unless you have a low-to-moderate tolerance. Consuming more than seven or eight bottles (11.2 ounces each) is quite likely to induce nausea and stomach pain, due primarily to the appalling amount of sugar in the brew; after a few six-packs, one is sweating glucose and panting like a kid on a candy-binge. You might as well shoot whisky with Pixie-Sticks dissolved in it.

Most irritating about Mike's Hard Lemonade, the brand of which is owned by a Canadian company, while it is brewed for American distribution in Rochester, NY, is the packaging: every bottle and case is covered with ostensibly hand-written stories about "Mike" and his habits, lifestyle, and the recipe, all offered by an unamed, but archetypal, masculine narrator. These little paragraphs are peppered with 'authentic,' 'down home' phrases like "Mike's always been just a regular, old-favorite-shirt kind of guy..." and "...coaxing the recipe out of Mike is about as likely as breaking an unbreakble comb."

The consumer is even invited to "hang out" with Mike and the narrator if he ever travels "up here," to the unspecified location of Mike's corporate headquarters, and it is even suggested that the three of you might "play some electric football, and form friendship bonds tighter than a 1970's basketball uniform."

Normally, the transparency of this calculated demographic manipulation is easily ignored, seeming as harmless as the usual marketing drivel accompanying products targeted at "you and yours." When drinking or drunk, however, the smarmy, smug condescension of it is impossible to ignore, and one is soon screaming like a lunatic at "Mike," the "narrator," and every asshole on Madison Avenue to just "leave me the fuck alone!"

Ahem. But it's not such a bad beverage on a hot summer day.