Hard lemonade is a form of alcopop, a flavored malt beverage with about the same alcoholic content as bottles of beer. Early forms of alcopop included wine coolers, which used wine instead of malt. In the late 1980s, though, brands like Zima® became popular. This led to the concept of creating lemonade that also had an alcoholic content. The first company to do so, and probably still the most recognizable by brand was Mike’s Hard Lemonade®, first produced in 1999.
Due to the slightly acidic taste of lemonade, adding malt flavor, and often some carbonation, doesn’t really affect the taste of the lemonade much. The drink tends to be favored by younger drinkers who don’t particularly like a strong alcohol taste. It has slightly more bite, and is slightly more sour than traditional lemonade, and of course, it does contain alcohol. There are some related alcopop versions that aren’t called hard lemonade, like Smirnoff Ice®.
There are certainly other fruit juices that have lent themselves to becoming alcoholic in nature. Apple cider for instance is in some cases always hard cider, though in the US it’s more common to find the soft cider version, which contains no alcohol. Lemonade could be added to a variety of mixed drinks, but wasn’t normally used to ferment alcohol, and create hard lemonade. Yet, with the popularity of commercial hard lemonade, there are now numerous online recipes devoted to the making of the drink, usually mixing lemonade concentrate, sugar and yeast, and fermenting the mixed ingredients from about five days to about three weeks, depending upon how strong you want the results.
As mentioned, most commercial forms of the lemonade are about equivalent to the same amount of beer, though a few obscure varieties may be higher in alcohol content. Since you are basically drinking one beer per one hard lemonade, you need to be certain you’re not overdrinking and that you’ve got designated drivers if you’re away from home. It’s also kind of easy to overdo it on sweet drinks that don’t taste particularly alcoholic. They can be easy to drink quickly, without giving much consideration as to how much alcohol you’ve consumed. In any situation where you’re consuming alcohol, sip slowly and vary drinking alcoholic beverages with plenty of nonalcoholic ones.