Starbucks Evenings Launched in Japan
Starbucks Evenings – the alcohol-licensed spinoff from the international coffee chain – has launched its first store in Japan with an ice-blended drink dubbed the Wine Fraggino.
The limited-edition beverage is made with blueberry wine from Hokkaido (famed for its wild berries) and is said to have a "refreshing mix of sweet and tangy flavours". Effectively an alcoholic Frappuccino (Starbucks' flavoured drinks with crushed ice), the Fraggino costs 900 yen ($8) and raises the prospect of more icy alcoholic iterations in the future.
Like other Starbucks Evenings, the Tokyo-based branch serves wines and beers with a selection of paired cheeses and pastries, while the expanded food menu includes dishes such as ratatouille. Unlike the US model, where certain regular outlets turn into Starbucks Evenings after 4pm, this branch is entirely devoted to the concept.
Starbucks has experimented with alcohol-licensed venues in Tokyo since 2013, when it launched a number of concept stores called Inspired by Starbucks. These 'neighbourhood' branches had subtler branding, wood-panelled interiors and homely furniture.
As coffee drinkers enjoy growing access to innovative at-home options, coffee chains will have to continue to diversify their offerings. For more on innovative new products and serving styles from coffee brands, see Reinventing Coffee.