Booster Shots

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Another round, bartender, and make it vitamin-infused

August 1, 2009 |  6:00 am

The problem with cocktail hour, we've always thought, is that it lacks good nutrition. Sure, the five olives you downed with your martini count for something, but do those pimientos really provide minimum daily requirements of anything?

Bottles_portrait Now we no longer need to worry. One of the latest trends in cocktails is enhanced alcoholic beverages. They're like those allegedly healthful enhanced waters, iced teas, sodas and sports drinks, only these will make you feel woozy after a few.

Lotus Vodka, for instance has vitamins B-3, B-5, B-6, B-12 and C, L-Arginine, L-Cysteine (both amino acids), and ginseng extract in its White Lotus brand, and Blue Lotus contains vitamins B-3, B-5, B-6 and B-12, plus guarana extract (a stimulant), caffeine and taurine (an amino acid).

Stimulants like caffeine are found in other vodkas as well (p.i.n.k. and Vicious Vodka are two brands, and Belvedere IX has guarana, ginseng and a bunch of other stuff), the influence coming from young partiers combining Red Bull with vodka to provide some energy for a long night ahead. The vitamins' origin is another story.

Rob Bailey is the founder and chief executive of the San Francisco-based Delicious Brands, parent company of Lotus (the vodka rolled out to major markets last year). Some market research led him to discover that what people really wanted out of a vodka were taste and something that didn't bring about a head-pounding, dry-mouthed, gut-spilling hangover the next day. Savvy guy that he is, Bailey decided what vodka needed was what people typically lost while drinking -- vitamins, specifically B-vitamins.

"Alcohol is a diuretic, and it causes you to deplete some essential vitamins and minerals from your body," he explained. "If you put those back, you can potentially feel better." He quickly added -- and pay attention here -- that because a serving has 15% to 20% of the USDA recommended amounts of B-vitamins, that doesn't mean you should drink more to get more vitamins. Also, it's not healthful. OK?

As weird as we think it is to infuse vodka with vitamins (is eating a balanced diet that difficult?), we actually came across a 2006 study in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism that found B-vitamin supplements improved sensory perception and function in 253 people with alcohol dependence.

Something tells us Bailey won't be recruiting drinkers for a clinical trial anytime soon. In the meantime, as they say in the ads, drink responsibly.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo courtesy of Lotus Vodka