Suntory Picked A Great Time To Launch Strong Zero In Australia

Suntory Picked A Great Time To Launch Strong Zero In Australia
Image: Kotaku Australia

Stopping by a 7-Eleven and grabbing a Strong Zero is, and will always be, one of the all-time greatest Japanese experiences. It’s the availability, the fact that Japanese 7-Eleven’s are so nice in the first place, and the fact that Strong Zero’s signature lemon/vodka/shochu has always been a killer drink.

But what’s always made Strong Zero’s lemon offering is a couple of things: it’s relatively cheap, the drink itself is fairly light thanks to its traditional shochu base, and there’s enough lemon to make it refreshing. Strong Zero has never been a weak drink either, so it’s no surprise that grabbing a Strong Zero for a stroll was a popular choice for a lot of Australians when touring Japan.

But obviously, visiting Japan isn’t really an option for Australians right now.

Aussies have turned to lots of treats, foods and snacks to remind them of the pre-COVID times. And Suntory’s timing with the 196 Double Lemon honestly couldn’t be better. The vodka/shochu/soda drink officially launched in Australia last month, and from August it should be available from all major and independent retailers. For now, the best deal available is through Liquorland where you can get a 4-pack for $20 and a 10-pack for $43.

strong zero
Given just about everything in the drink is a clear liquid — minus the lemon concentrate listed — it’s no surprise that the drink has a relatively clear appearance in a glass. Image: Kotaku Australia

There is a small change from the original Strong Zero formula. Strong Zero’s original cans weigh in at 9% ABV, while the rebranded -196 Double Lemon drinks here are 6% ABV. That works out to be about 1.6 standard drinks per can, which is plenty. The shochu/vodka mix is extremely light, and the appeal of drinking Double Lemon is for that refreshing lemon/soda combo, with a bit of sharpness from the alcohol. Making it too alcoholic would remove the refreshing aftertaste, and it’d also increase the calories substantially.

196 Double Lemon is only 510Kj/122 calories a can; it’s nicer and punchier than than your average vodka/soda too. That makes it a good option for people who want to grab something while they wind down from, well, everything that’s going on in the world right now. And it’s an extra bonus that the 4 and 10-packs are so well priced in Australia, which I didn’t expect.

While the traditional experience is to enjoy Strong Zero walking out of the 7-Eleven, the Australian version is probably best served on ice. Our version is slightly sourer than what I remember from my trips to Japan, but only just. It’s obviously a good pairing if you’re frying or grilling any skewers or recreating an izakaya-type experience at home. A good Aussie take, however, is to get some takeout fish and chips — calamari and muscles if they’ve got them — and have a big glass of Double Lemon over ice with that.

Obviously, it won’t recreate the experience of actually being in Japan. But Australians won’t get to enjoy that for at least a year, maybe more depending on everyone’s individual situation. And while I’m not suggesting Strong Zero’s Double Lemon is the nostalgia you need to cast the last 18 months aside, pairing a 4-pack with a solid JRPG, delivered katsudon and okonomiyaki is at least one recipe for a decent night in.

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  • This post is mostly satirical in nature, right?

    Strong Zero is far from a refreshing tasty drink. It’s a cheap way to get a bit of a buzz in Japan, nothing more…
    One need not glorify everything Japanese…

    • Its actually one of the biggest go to alcopop drink in jp for foreigners and the like because yes it’s cheap and has high enough of an alcho content to get sloshed but tastes decent since it’s an alcopop and not straight alchohol.

      I dunno why your quite the party pooper over strong zero =P

      • I know it’s a big drink for the foreigners as I’m one that is often there (pre-covid) and I’ve never met anyone that enjoys it for the “crisp” or “refreshing” taste.
        It’s just a cheap drink for getting an evening going.

  • Isn’t there some law in Japan about not being allowed to move and consume at the same time? Or is that limited to food?

    • IIRC there’s no actual law that forbids eating whilst walking.. its just socially frowned upon because it often leads to littering either intentionally by ppl not taking their trash or unintentional with food spillage.

  • Pretty spendy compared to in the land of the rising sun.
    There it was what $2 equivalent for a 500ml can? Yet it seems we are getting a 330ml can for $5 each in a 4 pack. $4 per liter vs $15

    Aussie alcohol taxes are retarded. Hasn’t done shit to stop people drinking (literally half of aussie ‘culture’ is drinking), just makes people even poorer from doing so.

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