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In 2015, the market value of alcoholic drinks around the globe reached a whopping value of $1.344 trillion and is presumed to hit $1.594 trillion by 2022.

The alcoholic beverage industry has always had an impressive track record where sales and marketing are concerned. Now, one of the world’s leading soda brands is set to create a bold impact that none of us might have seen coming.

Coca-Cola is living up to its popular tagline, ‘Open Happiness’, as it ventures into producing an alcoholic drink for the very first time in its 125 years of existence. The drink will contain an in-demand Japanese spirit called shochu.

Coke’s move to produce an alcopop will answer the growing demand for Chu-Hi in Japan. The drink contains an alcohol level ranging from 3% to 8%, depending on the flavor. The main ingredients include shochu, sweet potatoes, rice, barley, mixed with carbonated water. Chu-Hi was first released in 1983 and since then has been a coveted alternative to beer and is especially popular among women.

Jorge Garduno, the President of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit said, “We’re trying to push the boundaries to serve consumers in new ways. We are also 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 shochu and sparkling water, plus some flavoring.”

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

Urban Legend or Fact?

This may be the first time Coca-Cola will directly produce an alcoholic drink, but it’s not the first time the company has invested in the alcohol industry. Nor is it the first time the company has been associated with an intoxicating substance.

Gossip has circulated online and offline that the company’s initial formulation included cocaine. While the company has officially denied it, historical evidence and fact-checking site Snopes.com suggest otherwise. In their article, Snopes said Coca-Cola was named in 1885 after the two “medicinal” ingredients its formula; coca leaves and kola nuts. Just how much was ever included and whether it was ever fully removed is still hotly debated.

In 1977, it created the Wine Spectrum, a wine subsidiary that included Sterling Winery, Monterey Vineyard, Taylor Wine Company, and Great Western Winery. It stopped operating in 1983, acknowledging the fact that it might not be able to withstand competition from Gallo, a leading private winery.

The current CEO of Coca-Cola, James Quincey says the new beverage is just the first of many to come. He wants to make his products more appealing to a wider audience and make them even more versatile. His company has a projected revenue of $38.5 billion and with that stream of cash flow, researching new products and testing new markets should not be a problem at all.

Japan As a Testing Ground

The news has exploded and Coke lovers are said to be looking out to try Coke’s boozy product. Unfortunately for a lot of fans, Chu-Hi will only be available in Japan and Garduno said it’s because of the product’s unique qualities–like containing a local Japanese spirit for one. Another reason is that Coca-Cola officials are concerned about the possibility of having a difficult time advertising and marketing the Japanese-based alcoholic beverage.

This is not the only Coke spin-off product that is only available in Japan. Aquarius (a sports drink), Georgia Coffee (a canned coffee drink) and Sokenbicha (a blended tea drink) were also created for the Japanese market. Together they have generated global sales of $1 billion or more in the past five years.

There is no official date for the release of Chu-Hi under Coca-Cola. So far the company is only saying “some time in 2018,” but there’s no chance the product will roll out quietly. In the meantime, you can click the images below to purchase Coke’s other spin-off products on Amazon: