Coca-Cola has launched its first alcoholic drink, a lemon flavoured alcopop, in Japan in a bid to tap new markets and consumers.

In a global first for the US drinks giant, three fizzy lemon drinks went on sale on Monday.

The product aims at a growing market of young drinkers – especially women.

Described by Coca-Cola as “unique” in the company’s 125-year history, the three drinks range from three to eight per cent alcohol.

In keeping with the company’s tradition, the recipe is closely guarded but the drinks are modelled on the country’s popular Chu-Hi drinks, usually a mix of local spirit and a range of fruit flavours.

Chu-Hi – an abbreviation for shochu highball – has been marketed as an alternative to beer, proving especially popular with female drinkers.

Local companies like Suntory, Asahi and Kirin currently dominate the sector for canned Chu-Hi drinks.

The most popular flavours are strong citrus ones such as grapefruit or lemon, the latter one being the taste Coca Cola now wants a share of.

Coca-Cola says there are no plans to bring the new drinks range to markets outside Japan.

Alcopop drinks boomed in Europe and the UK in the 1990s with the likes of Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezer becoming hugely popular.

They were controversial, with concerns they encouraged young people to drink more alcohol because of soft drink-like taste.