Antidrinking groups denounce the 'spiked' lemonade appeal

The latest craze is lemon-flavored drinks that contain as much alcohol as beer. These are not your kids' lemonade-stand beverages.

The drinks - marketed under folksy names like Mike's Hard Lemonade, Doc Otis' Hard Lemon-Flavored Malt Beverage, and Hooper's Hooch Lemon Brew - contain about 5 percent alcohol. Critics say these beverages appeal to the sweet tooth of an underage drinker. Similar drinks marketed in the 1990s in England were dubbed "alcopops" by critics.

Sales of hard lemonade rose fourfold last year, to 4.1 million cases, worth about $90 million retail, which falls far short of the $60 billion spent on beer. (Lemon beverages cost about the same as specialty beers.) A spokeswoman for Miller Brewing says the market can be expected to reach $350 million nationally by year's end.

"The whole point ... is an effort to bring new consumers to the alcoholic-beverage market," says George Hacker, who oversees alcohol policies for the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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