Coke’s Launching an Alcoholic Soda in Japan!

Written by Matthew H.

March 8, 2018

Here’s another reason to be sad you don’t live in Japan: Apparently Coke (Coca-Cola, if you must) is launching what’s basically a boozy soda in the country later this year, marking the first time in the company’s 132-year history that it’ll be offering an alcoholic drink. 

In a blog post that comes via CNN Money, Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit, said that “We’re… going to experiment with a product in a category known in Japan as Chu-Hi. This is a canned drink that includes alcohol; traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shōchū and sparkling water, plus some flavoring.” 

Example of a Chu-Hi Can. Image: Wikimedia / BrianAdler

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

That Chu-Hi category Garduño is referencing is dedicated to sodas that have a relatively low ABV of somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-9%, although an 18-proof can of soda actually sounds like it could do some damage if you’re not paying attention to your imbibe rate. 

It’s hard to say at this point even roughly what the flavor of the boozy Coke will taste like, although existing Chu-Hi drinks use either a distilled-grain booze known as shōchū (made from various grains including rice, barley etc.) or vodka, combined with carbonated water. Various fruit flavorings, such as apple, peach, grapefruit, orange, etc. are also often added. 

The move into this category comes as sugary drinks become less and less popular with millennials who have growing health concerns, and as the Chu-Hi sector booms in Japan. 

We at Tipsy think this move is especially interesting considering the fact that Coca-Cola originally became popular during prohibition when alcohol was illegal, and that it’s now turning to booze as a possible new strategy to stay competitive. But hey, the company originally put cocaine in its drinks, so it seems like it’s down with whatever. 

In terms of whether or not we’ll get a chance to taste the drunk feeling outside of Japan, Garduño said that “I don’t think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola. While many markets are becoming more like Japan, I think the culture here is still very unique and special, so many products that are born here will stay here.” For sure, Garduño; Japan is indeed unique. 

 

Featured image: Flickr / DocChewbacca

All GIFS: Via Giphy