Does Chu-Hi Represent the Future of Alcohol?


Do you know what chu-hi or chuhai is? While it might not be well-known in the United States, chu-hi is a significant beverage in Japan and in the food world.

Chu-hi is a Japanese liquor known as shochu. It is often mixed with soda water and various flavorings. Its name comes from the an abbreviation of the word shochu combined with an abbreviation of the word highball, a type of alcoholic cocktail.

Beverage giant Coca-Cola is offering Lemondo, its own version of chu-hi, in Japan. This marks the first time the manufacturer has produced and marketed an alcoholic beverage.

Interestingly enough, until 1929 Coca-Cola included cocaine in the form of coca leaves, which provided the coca part of its name.

While Lemondo does not have cocaine, it does have alcohol. Some versions of chu-hi have quite a bit of it.

For example, chu-hi flavors such as grapefruit and lemon are strong flavors and can be 6 or 7 percent alcohol. That might not sound like a lot, but a typical bottle of U.S. beer often has 5 percent alcohol. Other flavors of chu-hi (such as grape or apple) typically have lower alcohol contents.

But, even a lower amount of alcohol is still alcohol. That might be a problem. People might be unaware that a fruity beverage has alcohol and drink so much that they become drunk. They might assume that all of the chu-hi flavors have the same amount of alcohol and drink more alcohol than they intended.

People might be unaware of chu-hi because it’s a new beverage to them. They might be unaware of its contents and drink more than is safe. Or, people might know that Coca-Cola manufactures the product but assume that chu-hi is nonalcoholic like Coca-Cola’s other drinks, which could lead them to drink alcohol unknowingly.

All of possibilities illustrate the importance of knowing what you consume.