Coca-Cola to Experiment With Boozy Drink in Japan

Coca-Cola Japan is set to introduce a new alcoholic beverage for the first time. George Frey / Stringer, FIle

Coca-Cola is cracking open a new kind of can in Japan.

The company's Japanese division will be trying out its first alcoholic drinks soon, a step its president called "unique" in the company’s history in a recent interview, though Coca-Cola dabbled in U.S. alcohol sales back in the 1970s.

The alcoholic drink won't be a kind of Coke drink, but "chu-hi," a canned, alcoholic, Japanese beverage that is typically a flavored mix of the spirit shōchū and carbonated water, Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit, said in an interview on the company’s website on Feb. 22.

Coca-Cola was in the alcohol business in the U.S. for a short period of time with its wine division, Wine Spectrum, in 1977, according to The New York Times, but sold it in 1983.

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"We haven’t experimented in the low alcohol category before, but it’s an example of how we continue to explore opportunities outside our core areas,” Garduño said.

Garduño said chu-hi isn't likely to spread beyond Japan: “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.”

But in an interview with CNN last month, CEO James Quincey wouldn't rule out the idea of Coca-Cola expanding into alcoholic beverages, saying, “Never say never.”