Coca-Cola Hits the Market with Its First Alcoholic Drink

Lemon-do (Image: Coca-Cola)

First there was Coke. Then there was Diet Coke, followed by Coke Zero, Coke Lite, and finally — seemingly completing the circle — Classic Coke. Now Coca-Cola is out with a new variation on its 132-year-old brand that might be called Coke Tipsy.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A fizzy lemon-flavored alcoholic drink that went on sale in Japan on Monday marked Coca-Cola Co.’s first fling at selling alcohol. …

At a sampling event in Fukuoka [Japan] on Saturday, hundreds of people lined up for a taste, including some who didn’t expect to find the U.S. company experimenting with Japanese-style booze.

Hiroshi Tsukano, 59 years old, a financial planner, thought one of Coca-Cola’s competitors was relaunching an old favorite. “I’m a bit surprised that this is a Coca-Cola brand,” he said. “It’s nice, but I would add a splash of grapefruit or more lemon to it.”

The article goes on to note that canned mildly alcoholic drinks, called chuhai, have long been popular in Japan. The beverages are made with a distilled grain-based alcohol called shochu and carbonated water, taking their flavor from fruit juice or other flavorings. The new Coke will be a competitor in this area, answering to the name of Lemon-Do. The product will come in three variations with increasing amount of booze ranging from 3% up to 7%.

In its earliest incarnations, Coca-Cola was made with an extract from leaves of the coca plant, which produces cocaine. In a way, the new expansion brings the product back toward its roots.