A trip to any local convenience store or supermarket in Japan will reveal a bewildering selection of canned alcoholic beverages, with new varieties appearing on shelves almost on a weekly basis. The majority of canned alcoholic beverages will either be beer or beer-taste beverages, on the one hand, and chūhai, on the other. Combining the first syllable of high-ball and the last syllable of shōchū, chūhai are always a popular and inexpensive choice at the local store and although they were originally lemon-flavored, all manner of fruit combinations and even more exotic versions are available these days, so it's almost anyone's guess what flavor will appear next.

Still, even Japanese consumers were surprised earlier this month when they learned about a new chu-hai reminiscent of something usually never associated with alcohol, Yukari. One of the most famous of all furikake rice toppings and a common presence in Japanese households, the deep purple-colored condiment made from dried red shiso (perilla) leaves manufactured by Mishima Foods Co., Ltd. since 1970 has a very distinctive fragrant, acidic and salty taste.

Moreover, the package is instantly recognizable with its vivid violet background, the pine green and medium violet-red stripes and the logo Yukari ゆかり® written in thick hiragana script.

Source: © Mishima Foods Co., Ltd.

Therefore, this chūhai's appearance is instantly reminiscent of Yukari to anyone who was raised in Japan or has lived here for a certain amount of time.

Source: © Mishima Foods Co., Ltd.

But enough about the packaging. What about the content? Developed for Mishima by Mitsui Foods Co., Ltd., Yukari chūhai contains the essence of the fresh red shiso leaves used to make the famous rice topping, blended in a sweet and sour base with a refreshing carbonated kick. No artificial preservatives are used and the violet red color is derived from natural coloring agents. The alcoholic content is a standard 5% and the can contains 350 milliliters.

In a tasting session, participants' reactions ranged from: "It's refreshing and you don't get tired of it" and "I think it would go well with food" to "I'll definitely buy it!" and "So many people know Yukari, so I'm sure it will do well."

If you're hoping to try Yukari chūhai for yourself, they'll go on sale on February 27th and will be available for 141 JPY (before tax) in limited quantities at selected supermarkets. Apparently, requests from retailers are pouring in so you should try to get them as soon as possible.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.