Coca-Cola has announced its first alcoholic drink – an alcopop that will be sold only in Japan.
The soft drinks giant plan to make their own version of chu-hi (or chūhai), which is a low-alcohol carbonated drink, often flavoured with fruit. Chu-hi contains the distilled alcohol shōchū, which is typically made using rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat or brown sugar. Generally, shōchū contains 25 per cent alcohol by volume, and is distinctly weaker than other spirits like vodka or whisky. The name ‘chūhai’ is an abbreviation of ‘shōchū highball’, and traditional chūhai is made with shōchū and lemon flavoured carbonated water.
The beverages usually range between three and nine per cent alcohol by volume, and are marketed as an alternative to beer. Similar products are growing increasingly popular in Japan.
Coca-Cola have called the move a “modest experiment”, and stated that the new drink is unlikely to be sold anywhere else in the world. Japanese drink brands like Kirin, Suntory and Asahi already produce their own takes on chu-hi in a wide variety of flavours.