Coca-Cola is getting into the alcohol business for the first time in its 126 year history. The world’s largest beverage company will launch its first alcohol product in 2018, according to a press release. If you’re interested in a taste for yourself, though, you’ll have to travel to Japan.
The product will be called Lemondo, and it follows Japan’s alcoholic soda trend of Chu-His—which is a mix of shochu (a neutral distilled liquor made from sweet potatoes, rice or other grains), sparkling water and flavoring that normally hovers around 9 percent ABV.
“Coca-Cola has always focused entirely on non-alcoholic beverages, and this is a modest experiment for a specific slice of our market,” Jorge Garduño, the president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit, said in a press release. “The Chu-Hi category is found almost exclusively in Japan.”
Lemondo is a lemon sour Chu-Hi that comes in three flavors. There’s Salty Lemon, which is 9 percent abv, Standard, which is 7 percent, and Honey, which is 3 percent. Sora News writes that each can is made with a whole grated lemon that’s soaked in shochu. It pours a cloudy yellow color and apparently tastes delicious.
“All it took was one sip for Coca-Cola to prove it can handle alcoholic beverages as well as it does soft drinks,” Casey Baseel, who tasted the drink for Sora News, writes. “Lemondo is an especially tasty canned sour, and it’s actually even tastier than the chu-his served up by some lower-priced bars.”
If you’ve never been to Japan, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Chu-Hi. The drink originated in Tokyo in the late 1940s as a type of shochu highball. The “chu” part of the name refers to shochu, and the “hi” refers to highball. A canned version came on the market in 1983, and today some 1.7 billion cans of the drink are sold every year, according to Japan Times. Just don’t count on Coke to bring it anywhere else.
“I don’t think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola,” Garduño said. “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.” Oh well, we’ll just have to make do spiking Coke the old fashioned way—with rum.