Rob Bailey: Building a better vodka company

It was Henry David Thoreau who once said that water was the only drink for a wise man.

Local resident Rob Bailey begs to differ.

The CEO and Founder of Delicious Brands, the San Francisco-based spirits company, has pioneered a new kind of vodka, infused with B vitamins, that he says could actually be good for you.

White Lotus, which made its debut last August, is infused with vitamins B3, B6, B9, and B12, all meant to curb, if not altogether eradicate, the potential for hangovers.

Its sister brand Blue Lotus, which hit shelves in December, is caffeinated vodka that also contains taurine and guarana. Taurine is an amino acid known to boost the metabolism, while guarana is a berry containing three times the amount of caffeine found in a coffee bean.

But Bailey isn’t putting all the focus on his products’ potential health benefits. Rather, he’s touting Delicious Brands and Lotus vodkas’ potential community benefits.

So far, the vodka company has stocked the bars of 250 venues and more than 25 charity events.

Not bad for a vodka that was only in its beta phase a year ago.

“We’ve been absolutely blessed. I guess it’s all the good karma from working with all these great charities,” Bailey said.

Some of those charitable endeavors have included a fundraising event at the über hip nightclub Mighty for local artist and scenester Otto Schutt, a man considered to be one of the cornerstones fortifying the annual Burning Man festival.

Schutt was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.

Bailey and Lotus Vodka also have helped raise funds for the Dalai Lama Foundation, Project Ahimsa and Pathways for Kids.

A portion of the proceeds earned from Lotus Vodka sales are also donated to charities.

“Being able to do that kind of stuff just makes a world of difference for running this company,” he said.

Only a year ago, Bailey was schlepping the vodka in flasks to parties to try out on guests. The first few rounds proved unfavorable, with party-goers not too keen on the taste.

With the recipe finally perfected, however, he now has more than

30 ambassadors promoting the product throughout the city and has built a staff of six employees, one of whom is his mom. She’s one of the company’s first investors.

He even has his own Wikipedia entry: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_vodka.

“It’s just so freaking cool,” Bailey said. “It’s really enabled us to be a force for positive change.”

Business

New project: Blue Lotus

Last project: White Lotus

Number of emails a day: 150+

Number of voice mails a day: 10-15

Essential web site: http://www.lotusvodka.com/

Best perk: Supporting great local charities like the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Gadgets: Blackberry World Phone

Education: Brown University, MIT (Grad School)

Last conference: Fancy Foods Expo

First job: Washing dishes in student dining hall

Original aspiration: Gourmet chef

Career objective: Build a better vodka company.

Personal

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Sports/hobbies: Surfing, cooking

Transportation: Walking or Jet Blue

Favorite restaurant: French Laundry

Computer: Gateway laptop from Costco

Vacation spot: Sayulita, Mexico

Favorite clothier: Revel Industries

Role Model: Sidney Frank (founded Grey Goose), George Karpaty (local entrepreneur)

Reading: McIlhenny’s Gold, the story of the family that built the Tabasco Sauce empire

Worst fear: Boredom

Motivation: Build a better vodka company.

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