Five Great Things About Mike’s Mike-arita
It could be that you, our valued and constant and loyal and generous audience, may have some notion that we at Choosy Beggars totally revile the concept of the pre-mixed novelty cocktail beverage. We cannot imagine why this is.
Unless, of course, you happened to read our stance on Smirnoff Tuscan Lemonade (flavored with real Limoncello!) — which I can generally sum up for you now as “largely negative” bordering on “pathological hate.” But we insist that had less to do with the concept of a pre-configured drink in a bottle, ready to serve and generally brainless, as it does with that particular drink being so pathetically awful. We like to think that we are open-minded enough that, should we ever encounter a mix-in-a-can that doesn’t cause one to question the existence of a just and loving God, we would be fair enough to mention it to you.
So imagine how entirely validated we were when we found the Mike’s Hard Mike-arita.
First, let’s take a moment to remember that Mike’s Hard Lemonade is — at least for me — one of the first liquor-coolers that were actually reasonably acceptable for guys to drink, back in the mid-90’s. What with the black labels, the cheap type-written labels and the heavier-than-beer-anyway alcohol content, they were giving male undergraduates rotgut and hangovers long before Matthew Perry ever cracked the top off of his first thirty Smirnoff Ices. It was a reasonable substitute for non-beer drinkers, it got you drunk just a little more quickly, and it cost about the same: pretty much the ideal triple threat for someone who had to weigh their limited financial resources between gas, food and fun on a daily basis.
Of course, for that very reason, it wasn’t long before Mike’s Hard Anything became synonymous with inexpensive party fodder for lightweights. As we all grew up and became sophisticated to mix alcohols with other alcohols and then pour Crystal Light on top of them, we left Mike’s behind to the next generation — who by then had all manner of competitors to choose from, with eerily accurate artificial flavors like mandarin orange, lychee or wild blueberry.
Now, I should admit right here and now that occasionally, I buy things that I think are going to enrage Tina a little. I make it up to her with supplementary products, usually in quantities larger than a liter and a half, but sometimes it just tickles me so when I hear her open the fridge and cry, “Oh sweet Jesus! Are you serious? Why would– who– is that…? And you brought this home?”
Ohhh, I’m chuckling even at the thought of it. And it was in this spirit of mischief that I picked up a couple of Mike’s Hard’s latest entries: the first being a mojito in a can, and the other being the so-called “Mike-arita.”
(To maintain the positive tone of this article, we will now never again mention even the existence of the Mike’s Mojito cocktail. We consider this only fair. Force us to reverse this policy at your own peril.)
After Tina overcame her initial surprise, gall, squinting displeasure and suspicion, we were both delighted to find that — instead of being a crappy experience we would smirkingly enjoy before moving onto drinks we would actually like — the Mike’s Hard Mike-arita’s were actually… good. More than good, when properly chilled and consumed on the right kind of warm sunny day, they were actually really good, to the point where I actually felt a bit bad that I only bought two.
This is for five key reasons:
- Science can make cheap things taste like really good things. For example, you can buy chips now that taste exactly like horseradish and cheddar cheese; you can buy cheddar cheese that tastes like horseradish; and you can buy horseradish that tastes kind of like old cabbage. More importantly, you can open up one of these and it will actually taste pretty much precisely like a margarita. Flavor science is an absolute freaking marvel.
- Mike’s no longer considers “headache inducing” a flavor. Which is a relief, because as fun as having a sudden gnawing pain in the base of your skull is, it’s more likely that you’d enjoy your backyard BBQ without having to go soak your face in a wet cloth for fifteen minutes. Whether it’s because they’ve upgraded the variety of the “malt liquor” that they use, that it blends more readily with the sweeteners in the drink, or that their overall quality has improved, I couldn’t tell you — the important thing is that you are free to consume with considerably more abandon than ever before.
- It is still packaged in a comparably guy-friendly manner, not that I’m insecure or anything why are you looking at me like that. In Canada, in fact, it’s even less conspicuous than illustrated above. Guys who really feel like having a slightly sissy cocktail without taking too much shit about it can purchase the black cans with relatively nondescript green “Mike’s Hard” branding on it, which could double for any number of other party drinks. No bright colors, no flamboyant labeling, and no fruity weirdness to let people know that you’re there to have fun in any way, shape or form.
- It packs a punch. Yep, it’s sweet like candy and strong like wine, so you will find yourself happily gulping them back until you try to stand up — and then decide that maybe standing up is something you could do later, when you’ve had some time to regain your bearings, so hey since you’re hanging around maybe grab another one out of the cooler, man do these ever hit the spot when it’s hot outside.
- It has no illusions. This is a little bit more of a value judgement, but we’re willing to go this far: Mike’s Hard Mike-arita doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is, a flavored alternative to their usual offering that happens to hit the mark. There are no claims to invoke tradition, no tenuous connections to regions of the Caribbean or Europe, no posturing as a drink that’s just as good as you may find at your favorite resort. They’re just flavors, and if you like one better than the others, then super-duper.
It may be that this last point is why we like Mike’s Hard Mike-arita as much as we do. It was a pleasant surprise when we had zero expectations, without any of the drawbacks that we remember from our experiences with the brand. At nearly three dollars a serving, it’s not precisely cheap — but we’re willing to forgive that, if it means that we can enjoy an unpretentious bit of booze that manages to get it right.
Rating: 4 Diane Lanes out of 5