What is Rio Drink in China?

Rio Drink

As an avowed and ardent lover of alcopops it was fairly inevitable that I would end up trying the Rio drink in China. And I have to say that while it started off as a classic Chinese knock off, now it is not only a great drink in its own right, but now has the brands now copying it.

There’s one thing you truly have to give the Chinese credit on, and that is how they take a western idea, give it their own take and then create a brand from it. And this was how the Rio Drink in China was born.

The history of Rio Drink in China

Initially founded in 2003 by Shanghai Bacchus Limited (a branch of Bacchus Distillery) its initial aim was to take on Bacardi Breezer as the alcpop “girly” drink of choice.

This was usually in bottle form, but soon expanded to a bunch more different favors, cans, sugar free varieties and now a super strength version. Essentially whatever the fashion was, the guys at Rio China were on it.

And Bacardi Breezer? Well while it does still very much exist you will rarely see it in Chinese shops. Rio on the other hand is not just in the shops of China, but is now even exported to places such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

Perhaps even more amazingly and as is the Chinese way you will now see rip-ff versions of Rio Drink, usually with 3 letter names, like “Sol”, as well as “Bio”. Quite ironically there was actually a copyright infringement case against “Bio” which was won by Rio. Even more ironically you can still by Sol which tastes like crap.

Yet this is far form a one off story with brands such as Oppo, Dicos and one might even argue WeChat going through similar processes. They also now have to deal with upstarts trying to copy them….

How does Rio Drink in China taste?

There are now so many varieties of the Rio Drink that you really cannot say what it tastes like as a whole. What I can do though is say what the original real McCoy version that took on Bacardi Breezer tasted like. This classic that is still available now was pretty smooth, but initially probably a bit too sweet. Since then it has been somewhat fine tuned with little relation to its original incarnation.

Like other brands that I love such as Tanduay Ice and Spy Wine cooler they have also had to go down the whole sugar free route. And while I feel that it generally tasted like crap, it was no worse than the ones created by these other brands.


And its was just last night that I picked up a huge pint sized can that was multicolored and simply had a few English words, one of which was STRONG. I checked it said 8 percent, so I purchased four to wash down my Soju.

It was though only after drinking them that I clocked that Rio STRONG was in fact the latest incarnation from Rio Drink China. One again they followed the trends of the west, as in people wanting to get shit faced on drinks that taste like candy. And for this I shall eternally be grateful to those kids at Rio Drink China for what they have done for local kids, teens just starting their alcohol journey, as well as those on the road to alcoholism.

Rio Drink China can thus proudly put itself out there as one of the best gateway drinks, with the gateway being to not just more drinks, but the hallowed turf of functional alcoholism.