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For the first time, Coca-Cola is experimenting with booze

A Coke with a buzz?
Coca-Cola alcohol
Photo: Getty Images

Back in January, Coca-Cola announced it was coming out with some fruity diet flavors and a fresh, new look.

It was announced last week that Coca-Cola Japan is experimenting with an alcoholic soft drink known across the country 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," Coca-Cola Japan's business unit president Jorge Garduño explained in a post on the Coca-Cola site. The Wall Street Journal reports that flavors range from "strawberry to ice tea and cream soda."

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Shōchū is a Japanese spirit distilled from grains and vegetables. It differs from Sake because Sake is categorized as fermented liquor (like wine). Shōchū, a distilled liquor, is similar to brandy and vodka.

Experimentation with this alcoholic drink goes along with the Coca-Cola Japan culture. They try out 100 new products on average each year, Garduño said. They're also planning to introduce a drink to the Japanese consumers called "THE TANSAN," which has the "strongest carbonation ever ... to reach health conscious adult sparkling lovers."

The Chu-Hi drink is the first alcoholic beverage in Coca-Cola history, and in terms of whether or not it will come to the U.S., these odds sound unlikely.

"The Chu-Hi category is found almost exclusively in Japan," Garduño said. "Globally, it’s not uncommon for non-alcoholic beverages to be sold in the same system as alcoholic beverages. It makes sense to give this a try in our market. But I don’t think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola."

When asked about the possibility of creating a similar beverage here in the U.S. or even selling these Japanese drinks in other markets, a spokesperson from Coca-Cola North America told Metro they have no further comment beyond their test plans in Japan. 

But CEO James Quincey said to CNN, "Never say never."

Coca-Cola Japan