Coca-Cola Is Trying Alcohol for the First Time in 125 Years

Coca-Cola is getting ready to test out its very first alcoholic beverage, ever! After ages of being used as a mixer, Coca-Cola is speeding up the practice by adding liquor straight into a soft drink, exclusive to Japan only.

Coca-Cola Japan has announced that it’s going to begin offering canned Coca-Cola chu-hi. Varying in alcohol content from 3 to 9 percent, canned chu-hi is manufactured out of white liquor, fizzy water and a variety of flavorings, for example fruit, green tea, and even sakura. It’s a relatively inexpensive, mass-market ready-to-drink twist on the distilled shochu, a spirit generally produced from rice, barley, potatoes, or buckwheat.

“The new product will belong to the chu-hi category” – announces Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola in Japan – “This is a canned drink that includes alcohol. Traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shochu and sparkling water, plus some flavoring. We haven’t experimented in the low-alcohol category before, but it’s an example of how we continue to explore opportunities outside our core areas.”

After 125 years of history, Coca-Cola hence roll-outs its very first alcoholic cocktail, at a time of decrease in product sales of conventional sparkling drinks, snubbed by the new generations more and more focused to steering clear of the consumption of sugar. The storied soft drinks company is set to enter a crowded market. Big Japanese beverage makers like Kirin and Suntory already produce popular chu-hi drinks.

“This is unique in our history,” Garduño said. “Coca-Cola has always focused entirely on non-alcoholic beverages and this is a modest experiment for a specific slice of our market.”

Japan is among the company’s most competitive and rapidly changing markets. It says it releases about 100 new products there each and every year. Other big international brands have tried unconventional things to appeal to Japanese consumers’ palates. Nestlé opened a manufacturing facility not too long ago in Japan to satisfy the growing interest in exoticly flavored KitKat bars.