California lawmakers are split over how to tax sweetened alcohol drinks.

Ready-to-drink brands, (also know as "alcopops" or flavoured malt beverages) such as Mike's Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice, are currently taxed as beer, at 20 cents per gallon instead of US$3.30-a-gallon for distilled spirits, and are sold at convenience stores.

Some legislators want to change their classification to liquor to discourage underage consumption and generate about US$40m in annual tax revenue. A recent survey found that the beverages are especially popular among underage girls: by age 18, a third have tried them and 82% find them better tasting than other alcoholic drinks.