Zima (drink)

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TypeMalt beverage
ManufacturerCoors Brewing Company
Country of originU.S.
Introduced1993, 2017 (limited release), 2018 (limited release)
DiscontinuedU.S. 2008
Proof (US)10
VariantsCitrus, Tangerine, Pineapple Citrus
Related productsSmirnoff Ice

Zima Clearmalt is a clear, lightly carbonated alcoholic beverage made and distributed by the Coors Brewing Company. 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 is still marketed in Japan.[2] 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 summer 2017 and summer 2018, and did not return in 2019.


Zima means "winter" in 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 drink was part of the "clear craze" of the 1990s that produced products such as Crystal Pepsi and Tab Clear.[3] Early advertisements for Zima described it as a "truly unique alcohol beverage" and used the tagline "Zomething different".[4][5]

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.[3]

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.[3] 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".[6]

In the late 2000s, the beverage was marketed in additional flavors: citrus, tangerine, and pineapple citrus.[3]

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.[3] Zima is still sold and marketed in Japan.[7]

In February 2017, MillerCoors announced that they were in negotiations to bring Zima back to the U.S. market.[8] On June 2, 2017, it was announced the Zima would have a limited release beginning on July 4th weekend.[9] 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.[10]

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  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 c d e Koerner, Brendan (November 26, 2008). "The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima". Slate. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  4. ^ Frost, Peter. "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.'
  5. ^ 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'
  6. ^ "MillerCoors ends production of Zima". Chicago Tribune. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  7. ^ Kubo, Angela Erika (16 December 2014). "Zima gets a new look and a second chance". The Japan Times. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Clearly, you missed it. Zima is coming back". Chicago Tribune. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  9. ^ "MillerCoors is bringing back Zima". Milwaukee Business Journal. 2 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  10. ^ Leary, Patrick (14 May 2018). "MillerCoors' Zima returns for a limited encore run". Milwaukee Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 9 January 2021.

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