Lemon-Do is a chuhai beverage, which is a form of alcoholic cocktail that originated in Japan, made with carbonated water and the Japanese liquor shochu (not to be confused with Korean liquor soju) and traditionally flavoured with lemon.
Shochu can be distilled from barley, rice, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, buckwheat and a variety of tubers. It normally contains some 25% of alcohol by volume.
Lemon-Do is Coca-Cola’s first and only alcoholic product globally.
“Coca-Cola Japan started to sell Lemon-Do, our first alco-pop product from May 2018, [and we initially] tested this only at the Kyushu-area in Japan,” a Coca-Cola Japan spokeswoman told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We have a total of four SKUs of Lemon-Do, [and] each SKU has different juice and alcoholic content.”
The Honey Lemon variant contains 7% lemon juice and 3% alcohol, with honey to give a sweet-sour finish. Standard Lemon has 10% lemon juice and 5% alcohol and is considered the most ‘traditional’ variant, whereas Salt Lemon contains 7% lemon juice and 7% alcohol, with salt to give a ‘crisp’ taste.
The latest addition to the Lemon-Do range was the Demon Lemon variant released earlier this year, containing 17% lemon juice and 9% alcohol.
“Demon Lemon contains 1.5 lemons per 350ml can and has a powerful sour taste and lemony refreshing effect,” said Coca-Cola Japan.
According to the Lemon-Do website, the company’s method of producing this beverage is to grate the lemon to obtain zest and juice and mix this with shochu.
No plans to expand outside of Japan
Despite Lemon-Do gaining sufficient success in Kyushu to launch nationwide, Coca-Cola has no plans to bring this beyond the country.
“This is still [an] experimental product specific for [the] unique Japanese market. We don’t have plans to sell this outside of Japan,” said the Coca-Cola Japan spokeswoman.
Coca-Cola Japan President Jorge Garduno concurred, saying that: “[This approach] is unique in our history [and] the chuhai category is found almost exclusively in Japan.
“[The] Japanese market is incredibly dynamic, fiercely competitive and rooted in innovation [and] it makes sense to give this a try in our market.”
“[However], I don’t think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola. 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.”