Zima (drink)

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TypeMalt beverage
ManufacturerCoors Brewing Company
Country of origin United States
Introduced1993 (U.S.)
1996 (Japan)
DiscontinuedOctober 2008 (U.S.)
Alcohol by volume 4.7–5.4%
Proof (US)9.4°–10.8°
VariantsCitrus, Tangerine, Pineapple
Related productsSmirnoff Ice
Zima boxes in a Japanese store

Zima Clearmalt is a clear, lightly carbonated alcoholic beverage made and distributed by the Coors Brewing Company or its licensees. Introduced in 1993, it was marketed as an alternative to beer, an example of what is now often referred to as a cooler, with 4.7–5.4% alcohol by volume.[1] Its production in the United States ceased in October 2008, but it was still marketed in Japan[2] until 2021, when sales ended due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic[3] before returning in 2023.[4] On June 2, 2017, MillerCoors announced a limited release of Zima for the U.S. market. It was sold again in the U.S. in the summers of 2017 and 2018, but did not return in 2019.


Zima means "winter" in many Slavic languages. It was launched nationally in the United States as Zima Clearmalt in 1993 after being test-marketed two years earlier in the cities of Nashville, Sacramento, and Syracuse. The lemon-lime flavored drink was part of the "clear craze" of the 1990s that produced products such as Crystal Pepsi and Tab Clear.[5] Early advertisements for Zima described it as a "truly unique alcohol beverage" and used the tagline "Zomething different".[6][7]

Zima offered an alternative to the then-successful wine cooler category. Coors spent $50 million marketing Zima in its first year, persuading nearly half of American alcohol drinkers to try it. Brandweek magazine reported that at Zima's peak in 1994, 1.2 million barrels of the beverage were sold. It was originally popular among young women. Coors made its first attempt at attracting young men to the brand in 1995 by marketing Zima Gold (an amber-colored beverage that promised a "taste of bourbon").  The drink was unpopular and disappeared from store shelves within the year.[5]

In describing The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima, writer Brendan Koerner cited Zima's perceived reputation as a "girly-man" beverage and its persistent parodying by late-night TV host David Letterman.[5] The Chicago Tribune reported that distributors were asked to stock "caffeinated alcoholic beverage Sparks on retail store shelves to make up for Zima’s absence".[8]

In the late 2000s, the beverage was marketed in additional flavors: citrus, tangerine, and pineapple citrus.[5]

On October 20, 2008, MillerCoors LLC announced that it had discontinued production of Zima in the U.S., choosing instead to focus on other "malternative" beverages.[5]

In February 2017, MillerCoors announced that they were bringing Zima back to the U.S. market.[9] On June 2, 2017, it was announced that Zima would have a limited release beginning on July 4 weekend.[10] Demand for the product exceeded the company's expectations, selling out entirely by September. As a result, in May 2018 MillerCoors announced it would once again bring back Zima for a limited time, with 40 percent more inventory available than in 2017.[11]


Zima was launched in Japan in 1996 where it proved more popular than in its home market. One reason is the fact that it didn't amass the same reputation as a drink meant for young women, instead it was consumed by both genders from most age groups, often as an accompaniment to meals. By mid-2020 alcohol sales to businesses (e.g., restaurants, bars, izakayas) —where Zima was often consumed— fell by nearly 90 percent year-on-year during the COVID-19 lockdowns.[12] Consequently, Coors ended its operations in Japan and Zima was discontinued by December 31, 2021.[3][13] In March 2023 Coors reached an agreement with Hakutsuru Sake Brewing Co. to become the exclusive Japanese distributor of Zima and Blue Moon craft beer thereby bringing the drink back after a two-year hiatus.[4][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeffrey, Don (20 May 1995). "Zima, VH1 Plan Labor Day Weekend Fest". Billboard. p. 101. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  2. ^ "ZIMA". Gigazine. 2010-03-28. Retrieved 2011-02-16.
  3. ^ a b Master Blaster. "Japan's Beloved Zima Discontinued After Sales Hurt by COVID-19." Sora News 24. 6 January 2022. Link
  4. ^ a b "プレミアム低アルコール飲料「ZIMA(ジーマ)」が1年ぶりに日本再上陸  ~2023年3月31日から全国で発売~". プレスリリース・ニュースリリース配信サービスのPR TIMES. 6 March 2023. Retrieved 28 May 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e Koerner, Brendan (November 26, 2008). "The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima". Slate. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  6. ^ Frost, Peter (13 May 2018). "Zima is back". Beer & Beyond. Molson Coors Beverage Company. Retrieved 9 January 2021. Zima was introduced in 1993 as a 'truly unique alcohol beverage' with the tagline 'Zomething different.'
  7. ^ Rodriguez, Jacob. "Zomething Different: 10 things you probably didn't know about Zima". 9NEWS. KUSA-TV. Retrieved 9 January 2021. It was marketed with the incredibly '90s tagline: 'Zomething Different'
  8. ^ "MillerCoors ends production of Zima". Chicago Tribune. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Clearly, you missed it. Zima is coming back". Chicago Tribune. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  10. ^ "MillerCoors is bringing back Zima". Milwaukee Business Journal. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  11. ^ Leary, Patrick (14 May 2018). "MillerCoors' Zima returns for a limited encore run". Milwaukee Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  12. ^ Martin, Alex K.T. (August 15, 2020). "How COVID-19 has reshaped Japan's drinking culture". The Japan Times.
  13. ^ "Importer of Zima, Blue Moon alcoholic drinks exits Japan market". Mainichi Shimbun. Tokyo. January 5, 2022.
  14. ^ "Zima and Blue Moon return to Japan" (PDF) (Press release). Molson Coors Beverage Company. October 22, 2022 – via PR Times.

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