This is a type of alcoholic drink designed and marketed to appeal to young people. The term is a blend of alcohol with pop in the old sense of a sweetish, effervescent fruit drink. Alcopops are an Australian invention which first came on the market in Britain in the summer of 1995, but which later spread to North America, Japan and elsewhere. They are broadly fruit drinks fortified with alcohol — a more formal name for them is alcoholic lemonades — usually with about 5% of alcohol by volume, which makes them rather stronger than most beers. Their makers have always denied that they are expressly targeted at underage drinkers, but a survey of more than 3,000 young people in Britain a couple of years ago, at the height of the craze, found that nearly two-thirds of boys and half of girls were drinking them by the age of 16, and some regular drinkers were as young as 11. The government promised action to curb their promotion to the under-18s, and some supermarkets stopped selling them in response to public pressure, but they have in any case gone out of fashion in Britain, with young people turning to lager instead.
Critics of alcopops say they are cynically packaged to appeal to under-age drinkers; the industry retorts that it is up to retailers to uphold the law.
Guardian, May 1997
The item concerned the precipitous decline in the market for alcopops, the Great Satan of the campaign against under-age drinking. After some supermarkets stopping selling “alco-carbs” (their name in the industry), following the terrible press they received, total sales to May fell by 30 per cent, and by an even steeper 42 per cent in off-licenses and supermarkets.
Independent on Sunday, Aug. 1998