Popular Mike's Hard Lemonade Flavors, Ranked Worst To Best

What's the best flavor of Mike's Hard Lemonade? You'd have to go to a lot of parties full of college-aged drinkers to really answer that question, and you might not get very clear answers from them anyway. And today, with the growing abundance of hard seltzers and fruity craft beers on the market, good old Mike's Hard Lemonade has gotten left a little bit behind. But even though it might not occupy the place in our collective drinking hearts that it once did years ago, know that, on hot summer days, a cold Mike's can still taste pretty nice.

So, being the law-abiding, over-21 folks that we are, we took it upon ourselves to try some of the most popular flavors of Mike's Hard Lemonade to figure out which of them were best. Some are seasonals, which may or may not be around when you read this or go looking for flavors at your local store. Others come from the "Harder" lemonade line, which amps up the alcohol content to 8% alcohol by volume. Regardless, in a sugar-addled haze, we tried all the most popular flavors of Mike's Hard Lemonade and ranked them from worst to best.

14. Strawberry

Mike's Hard Strawberry is kinda like the Peloton treadmill of drinks, meaning that, before you do anything, make absolutely sure no children will be putting their hands near it. Because this stuff doesn't even taste like alcohol, as it turns out. Instead, it tastes like strawberry soda. Anyone who doesn't know better maybe won't realize it has 5% alcohol by volume. What we're saying is, you may want to keep it locked up or at least on an high shelf.

Saying it tastes like strawberry soda is actually a little inaccurate because, after a few sips, you do indeed start to realize that there's some malt beverage in here amongst all the cloying sweetness of the strawberry lemonade. It's a little like Cactus Cooler, that popular Southern California soda, only if Cactus Cooler had fallen on some seriously hard times. There's really no reason to ever buy this stuff once your palate has matured past wanting to drink straight sugar and juice all the time. So do yourself a favor and give it a miss.

13. Strawberry Pineapple

You've heard the expression "putting lipstick on a pig?" That's kinda what Mike's Hard Lemonade was trying to do with the strawberry pineapple flavor from its "Harder" line of 8% alcohol by volume drinks, except instead of lipstick they opted for a flavored Chapstick. Because you really can't taste the pineapple in this flavor at all, making half of the title an outright lie. Even stone-cold sober and with all your senses fully intact, it's hard to differentiate this entry in the Mike's Hard Lemonade flavor lineup from its regular strawberry flavor. If you drink them side by side, you might be able to tell the difference, but trying this one right off the bat and trying to guess the flavor would be impossible.

Well, it's all but impossible unless "Instant Cavity" is a flavor. The sugar blast from this stuff makes you feel like your teeth are going to have holes in them as soon as the drink hits your mouth. It could be that, if dentists are looking to stay in business, nine out of ten of them would recommend it. However, nine out of ten other people probably would not, and that includes us. There's better pineapple stuff further down the list, to be certain. Ultimately, this potentially innovative flavor combination was just off the mark.

12. Watermelon

We've gotta give it to Mike's for going with a flavor combination that just screams "summertime refreshment," adding the cool, undeniably summer taste of watermelon to the tart blast of its standard lemonade base. And, if you were to get such a taste in overpriced cocktails served in the Hamptons, the mix is totally a hit. In Mike's Hard Lemonade, though, this flavor is still just a lot of sugar and some booze. Where hard seltzers like White Claw often miss the mark in their watermelon flavors and give us stuff that tastes like someone dropped a rind in a cup of carbonated water, Mike's goes too far in the other direction with its intense sweetness. Neither extreme is much of a success.

Now, let's be clear: There is no false advertising in this bottle's branding. If you're looking for watermelon flavor, by gosh you're getting some watermelon. A lot of it, in fact, with hints of lemon at the end. Of course, that's all followed up by loads and loads of sugar. Mike's Hard Watermelon almost seems like it should have been a Capri Sun flavor, as the alcohol isn't really all that noticeable. That could be dangerous if you get a little too caught up in the summery goodness of the drink and aren't overpowered by its sweetness.

11. Black Raspberry

"Wait," you say. "Black raspberry? Isn't that just a blackberry?" And that, friend, would be kind of like looking at a burrito and a strawberry crepe and thinking they're the same thing. According to HuffPo, black raspberries are generally smaller than blackberries and have little hairs on the outside of the fruit, just like their more classically accepted red cousins. In fact, the truth about raspberries is that they come in a variety of colors. But more importantly, black raspberries are a lot sweeter than blackberries. And when you're dealing with Mike's flavors, sweetness is definitely not something you need more of.

Like so many other entries in the Mike's Hard Lemonade lineup, this flavor carries an overwhelming amount of sweetness. Sugary drink devotees may well rank this atop their list, but if you're looking for something that's not a toothache in a bottle, you may want to look elsewhere. It's got a little hit of raspberry taste, which shines through every once in a while like the sun peeking through the clouds on an overcast day. But otherwise, this is just a lot of sugar that may not be quite your cup of tea — or lemonade.

10. Blackberry Pear

This is another seasonal offering from Mike's Hard Lemonade that might be its most ambitious flavor attempt to date. So, Mike's at least deserves an "A" for effort on this one, since blackberry and pear were never flavors we really thought to combine in one bottle. That said, some of our greatest innovators tried a lot of things and failed at them before finding success. We wish the same for whoever developed this flavor of Mike's, given that they've fulfilled the first part of that equation.

What this means is that, in theory, these flavors work nicely together. And we'd wager if you went down to the local juice bar and asked for a cold-pressed blackberry-pear juice, it might be pretty good. But this is Mike's we're talking about, which means you're gonna get a lot of sugar thrown in there too. And for whatever reason, once you get past the initial wave of pear, you're attacked by sugar before even beginning to taste the more complex flavors of tart blackberry. Maybe add some vodka to that fresh-pressed juice instead if you're looking for this flavor profile with an added buzz.

9. Peach

Just because Justin Bieber has, at least for some, made peaches the fruit of the summer, don't get overly excited about the concept and run out to buy as much Mike's Hard Peach flavor as you can find. Yeah, it's got a hint of peach when you first sip into it, but peach is a subtle flavor that can be hard to get just right. Here, it's pretty quickly overcome by an intense blast of sweetness. Though by now, anyone who's drinking Mike's should be used to that.

Now, we're not saying the peach flavor is bad. It delivers on what it promises: a malt liquor beverage that tastes something like what one imagines a peach would taste like. But it's much closer to drinking a watered-down fuzzy navel cocktail than anything resembling peach juice, so if you're a fan of the fruit you're probably better off just picking some fresh peaches up at the local farmer's market. In their favor, these drinks are cool and refreshing and probably some of the least boozy offerings in the Mike's lineup. But nobody's writing catchy summer pop hits about them either.

8. Blood Orange

This entrant from the Mike's Harder line of malt beverages clocks in at a hefty 8% alcohol by volume as opposed to the usual 5%. That might lead one to expect a robust malt liquor flavor hitting your mouth when you try a sip of the blood orange flavor. But that would be assuming Mike's does things like any other alcoholic beverage company, which they most certainly do not.

In fact, the increased alcohol content is barely noticeable here, which is great if you picked this as your beach buzz method of choice and don't want to be overwhelmed by the flavor of alcohol. Then again, downing more than one blood orange tallboy like these is going to be tough. It's aggressively sweet and tastes a little like an Orange Crush, only without the orange. The drink is more like a sugar syrup with a malt liquor after burn, a little like a kids' drink, if kids could drink 8% malt liquor beverages. Which, thankfully, they cannot. Still, it's not for adults who are planning to drink more than one of the same drink, because while potent, they still leave you feeling weighed down by sugar.

7. Cranberry

Unlike many of the other Mike's Hard Lemonade flavors, the sweetness of the cranberry here doesn't go so deep as to metaphorically hurt your soul. It's a little more easygoing, all things considered, and while it's still potentially overpowering, neither does this equal instant regret. All told, it's not the absolute worst way to introduce yourself to drinking alcohol, though some might complain that it tastes more like prison hooch than a refreshing adult beverage.

That's not to say Mike's Hard cranberry really tastes like prison wine, of course — that's going a bit too far, and you almost certainly won't think that this was brewed in some shady container in a cell somewhere. It's just that you get a little bit more of a fermented juice flavor in the bottle and not so much a felonious assault of sugar. Whether or not that a recommendation or a drawback depends on your palate and tolerance for the notorious sweetness of many others of the Mike's Hard Lemonade flavors.

6. Black Cherry

If Robitussin and Charles Shaw had a kid, it would probably taste a little like Mike's Hard black cherry. Your first notes when pouring it out are a little reminiscent of Lambrusco, the sparkling red wine closely associated with the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Your first notes of tasting it, however, are a little more reminiscent of an overly sweet (yes, again) cough syrup with some rather artificial cherry flavor. If that doesn't sound quite so bad, Mike's Hard black cherry might not be a bad option.

Those flavor notes can be why this flavor is typically pretty divisive. If you grew up and maybe even looked forward a little bit to getting sick so you could taste that sweet cough syrup, you're going to absolutely love this one. That said, if synthetic grape or cherry flavor isn't your jam, and you generally avoided all cough medicine because it tasted like, well, medicine, you may have one sip of this stuff and then dump the whole thing away down the drain.

5. Limeade

One might think that a company that made its fortunes making lemonade would do a pretty solid limeade too, right? Citrus is citrus, after all, so how hard can it be to get the limeade flavor up to speed alongside its lemonade cousin? Well, apparently that's a little harder than we thought because, while Mike's Hard Limeade is certainly in the upper echelon of Mike's flavors, it's a far cry from the fresh limeades you might have enjoyed in the past. Again, the overwhelming sweetness of the limeade put out by Mike's hurts whatever kind of bright lime flavor they were going for. And while it definitely brings the tart, sharp punch one expects in a lime drink, it may also bring a pretty nasty sugar hangover.

Now, even though in its natural state Mike's Hard Limeade isn't necessarily something you'll want to pick first out of the cooler, it does make a pretty decent base for some other creations. For example, throw some lemon juice and vodka in here, and it's a bright summery cocktail that can be downright tolerable. Similarly, if you add lemon juice and grenadine to the mix, you're starting to approximate a grown-up Shirley Temple, which is not only nostalgic but a marked improvement over the original non-alcoholic and therefore kid-friendly mixed drink by the same name.

4. Pineapple Mandarin

Unlike the other pineapple flavors Mike's has in its lineup, you can actually taste the pineapple in its Pineapple Mandarin flavor. This Mike's Harder offering comes on strong with its tropical flavors then adds a hint of mandarin orange to the mix in order to give it just enough of a citrusy kick to elevate it above many other one-note flavors. Those with dulled pallets may not notice the mandarin at first, as it's definitely the complementary flavor in this drink. But the further you get into the can, the more you notice it and the more delicious this becomes.

Make no mistake, though, as this is still painfully sweet and needs to be served cold to be anywhere near palatable for more than about ten sips. But of the Mike's Hard Lemonade hybrid flavors, the Pineapple Mandarin is far and away the winner. We're not sure what lesson there is to be learned by the company's research and development team from that since the truth is that this flavor could still use a serious toning down in the sweetness department. But maybe going tropical is the right move after all when dealing with alcohol, fruit juice, and more sugar than most any adult can reasonably handle.

3. Pink Grapefruit

Pink grapefruit is a seasonal flavor for Mike's Hard Lemonade, meaning that whether or not you're able to find it really depends on where you live and the time of year you're shopping. But if you're jonesing for something other than the original lemonade that still packs a tart punch, it's absolutely the way you'll want to go. Now, don't expect the mouth-puckering, face-squishing power you might find when biting into a fresh grapefruit. Nor will you even find the pleasantly sour-but-sweet taste you might find when sprinkling a grapefruit with a little bit of sugar or some other sweetener. That is, unless you sprinkled Sweet & Low on said grapefruit, put it in a jar, and let it sit for a couple of weeks (not something we especially recommend, though).

That's because this stuff is decidedly boozy. Though it has the same alcohol content as the rest of the Mike's Hard Lemonade flavors out in the world, there's something about the pink grapefruit that makes the malt liquor flavor really shine through. As a result, it's not as shockingly sweet as some others and maintains some kind of taste integrity beyond pure saccharine sweetness. 

2. Mango

Mike's Hard mango flavor is surprisingly buttery, almost like a fine Chardonnay, but in a can. And, okay, it's definitely not wine. Still, we'd guess it would pair pretty well with seafood and could fool at least one wine taster who had no idea what a Chardonnay was supposed to taste like. Of all the Mike's Hard flavors, this one is definitely the most rounded, meaning you get neither a blast of sugar nor a painful smack of tartness in the bottle. Instead, it's smooth and easy drinking, meaning that, if you want a Mike's Hard flavor that's not lemonade, this should be your pick.

That said, it still tastes a little like an overripe mango. And if you've ever had a friend with a mango tree, this definitely tastes like one of the mangoes they let sit on the counter for a few days too long before scooping it up and offering it to their "friends." The flavors of that mango and the Mike's flavor are definitely not rotten, but not quite fresh, either. Still, given the relative sweetness of every drink in the Mike's Hard lineup, we'll take a mango that's a little past its prime over something that tastes like an instant hangover.

1. Lemonade

There's a reason the most popular flavor of Mike's Hard Lemonade is, well, lemonade. It's the one that started it all, after all, the flavor that turned Mike's Hard Lemonade into a mainstream drink you can find in places other than sometimes questionable college parties. Original lemonade is still the best, frankly, and though it doesn't taste like much other than a mixture of sparkling water, alcohol, and sugary lemonade, it's not so bad. Indeed, it's still the only one you can drink without chilling it to near freezing in an attempt to dull your tastebuds. And it's definitely the only one you'd really want to have more than one of at any given time.

If you're not into beer and hard seltzer but still want a light, easygoing drink that you can have all day long, the original Mike's Hard Lemonade is the flavor for you. It's also an ideal choice to maintain the buzz after you've already ramped yourself up, as it's not going to make you tired like beer, but still lets you keep the party going without making a fool of yourself. There's nothing offensive about Mike's Hard Lemonade, as there are no flavors here that anybody is really going to hate. Mike's Hard Lemonade might be a good lesson in leaving well enough alone, as sometimes the unadulterated classic is really all you need.