Hard liquor is a key ingredient in Coca-Cola’s new line of Japan-only canned cocktails.

Oddly enough, the name of the Coca-Cola Company is actually a little misleading. Yes, it does indeed produce and sell Coca-Cola, but the company actually offers many other beverages, many of which aren’t even sodas.

For example, in Japan the Coca-Cola Company also owns Aquarius, Ayataka, Georgia, and Irohasu, which are brands of sports drink, green tea, canned coffee, and bottled water, respectively.

This month it’s entering an entirely new section of the market, though, by launching an alcoholic beverage. Called Lemondo, it’s exclusive to Japan, with no current plans to offer it in any of the 200-plus other countries and territories in which the Coca-Cola Company does business.

Lemondo is what’s called either a “sour” or “chu-hi” in Japan, which is a mix of soda water, shochu (a type of clear liquor made from barley, rice, or potatoes) and fruit flavors. As you can probably guess from the name, Lemondo is a lemon sour, which is by far the most popular variety of the cocktail.

▼ Coca-Cola boasts that it grates an entire lemon, soaks the pieces in shochu, and uses the resulting mixture to make Lemondo.

While they’re all lemon-flavored, there are actually three types of Lemondo to choose from: standard, salty, and a third variety with honey mixed in.

▼ Salty lemon (in the silver can) has the highest alcohol content, at seven percent. Standard (yellow can) is a more moderate five percent, and honey (orange can) packs the softest punch with three percent.

We wanted to see what the Coca-Cola Company had done for its baseline taste, and so we selected a can of standard Lemondo at the tasting event we attended in Fukuoka City. Standing under a hot sun, we cracked open the can and immediately noticed a refreshing citrus scent as we poured the drink into a cup to admire its color.

All it took was one sip for Coca-Cola to prove it can handle alcoholic beverages as well as it does soft drinks. Lemondo is an especially tasty canned sour, and it’s actually even tastier than the chu-his served up by some lower-priced bars.

▼ Actor Abe Hiroshi, of Thermae Romae fame, appears in Lemondo’s TV ads.

All three types of Lemondo sell for 162 yen (US$1.50) a can. At the moment, they’re only available on Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu, but it shouldn’t be long until they make their way up to Tokyo, and we’ll be waiting for them.

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