If you learned how to drink in high school, MTN DEW—or Mountain Dew, as it was known before 2008—was probably one of your go-to mixers. For me, it was two shots of clear rum in a 20-oz. bottle, reeking of booze on the train into Boston.
Being a functioning adult and father, I haven’t had a good DEW cocktail in a decade or so. Then, in 2021, Pepsi Co. announced it’d be making a 5% ABV version of MTN DEW. That boozy nostalgic dream became a reality in February when Tennessee, Florida, and goddamn Iowa got the first shipments of Hard MTN DEW.
On Monday, it was Minnesota’s turn: The four-flavor variety packs landed in the Twin Cities to great social media fanfare.
Channeling the worst version of myself from those teenage train rides, I immediately scored a box at Chicago Lake Liquors, ready to analyze the probable highs and definite lows of this brand-new flavored malt beverage. Though I’m usually Doin’ Beers at Racket, today I take a step back and time and Do… the DEW.
MTN DEW, you’re wasting everyone’s time with this. Watermelon tastes like the runoff from the Jolly Rancher factory, a barely swallowable treacle of harsh flavors that contains, by some food-science alchemy, zero sugar. Historically, MTN DEW has done an excellent job knowing its degenerate consumer, but I can’t imagine any self-respecting dirtbag like my past self willingly choosing this flavor over something more familiar. Why Watermelon instead of Hard Code Red? I hope a marketing exec was fired for this one.
3. Black Cherry
Hard MTN DEW’s biggest sin is trying to play in the same pool as White Claw and Truly. Yes, Black Cherry is the archetypal hard seltzer flavor, but the MTN DEW brand isn’t about pandering. This is the stuff you chug on a dirt bike while giving the finger to a line of mini vans parked outside the school gym. This medicinal, iridescent focus group byproduct is like if Taco Bell started selling guacamole. (Editor’s note: gross.) It’s not wholly offensive, maybe a bit too Dr. Pepper-y, but absolutely no one is here for it. Give us the yellow shit.
Anyone who allegedly had their sperm count lowered by the Slimer-green original DEW will immediately recognize the flavor, which is so perfectly intact that it’s a wonder the previous two flavors aren’t better executed. (The strange playground rumor about yellow dye #5 is false, for the record.) The hard version of classic DEW is, like those hand-crafted high school cocktails, heavy on the booze. A near-overwhelming bite of grain alcohol follows the citrus, which given the overall frattiness of the beverage, makes sense. Finally, we’re having some fun.
1. Baja Blast
It feels a little weird to be drinking Baja Blast outside the hallowed walls of a Taco Bell, but this is no ordinary Baja Blast. The surf-y rendition has always been the apex of the DEW portfolio, and the boozed-up version is no different. All told, it’s the only actually refreshing variant in the bunch. The tropical lime notes are as high as ever, and the harsh alcohol is subdued under waves of sugar-free sweetness
Take us out, Hank!