You Can Make Your Own Zima, So We Did

Photo: Courtesy of

Anyone who was conscious during the 1990s heard about Zima. The clear malt liquor hit the market in 1994 and took the drinking world by storm, selling 1.3 million barrels and—thanks to its ubiquitous, cheekily vague advertising (tagline: “Zomething different”)—becoming everyone’s favorite alcoholic punch line.

Sadly, that first year was the height of Zima’s popularity. By 1996, sales had declined by two-thirds, and it had all-but-entirely disappeared from liquor stores by the time we hit legal drinking age. But that didn’t stop the company from trying its hardest to keep the Zima flowing until 2008, when production finally ceased.

Today, you can’t find Zima anywhere in the US, though it is sold in Japan. However, thanks to a recent post on Zima’s Facebook page revealing a recipe, you can make something that tastes like it at home. We couldn’t resist. Here, DIY Zima:

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz. Calpico [a Japanese soft drink]
  • 1/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 oz. club soda

Pour everything into a collins glass and stir. Chill in the fridge.


Sweet, tart, citrusy with a mild, boozy kick—homemade Zima is pretty great. Unfortunately, none of us ever actually tasted the real thing, so it’s hard to say how close this gets. But as a stand-alone cocktail, faux Zima, while not crystal clear due to the Calpico, is a terrific drink for a hot day. If there was one thing that could take it over the edge into home run territory, it would be the fizz factor. It could use a bit more club soda. But aside from that, DIY Zima is a worthwhile endeavor—and a lot easier than home brewing.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles