Starbucks launches alcoholic drink

/ Source: The Associated Press

Starbucks Corp. Thursday launched its first alcoholic drink, a coffee liqueur.

Starbucks Coffee Liqueur, made in collaboration with Jim Beam Brands Co., will be sold in restaurants, bars, and liquor stores, not in coffeehouses. Alcohol content is 20 percent by volume, or 40 proof.

A 750 milliliter bottle will sell for around $23. The product also is available in 1 liter and 50 milliliter sizes. Future Brands LLC will distribute the liqueur.

Starbucks and Jim Beam, a unit of Fortune Brands Inc., said the launch follows successful test marketing in Denver and Austin, Texas.

It’s not the first time Seattle-based Starbucks has joined with another manufacturer to diversify. PepsiCo Inc. bottles and distributes Starbucks Frappuccino drinks, and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Holdings Inc. sells Starbucks ice cream.

During a January conference call, Fortune Brands said it was planning substantial investments behind the launch of the coffee liqueur. With these and other startup costs, the consumer brands company expects the product to have a neutral to slightly positive effect on 2005 earnings.

Fortune Brands is based in Lincolnshire, Ill.