Nashville Siblings Launch Lotus Energy Drink — And It's Actually Quite Tasty

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The local trio behind nationally marketed Lotus Energy Drink
  • The local trio behind nationally marketed Lotus Energy Drink
Right off the bat, let me say I'm not much of an energy drink kinda guy. I think Red Bull is pretty much just a way to ruin a perfectly good shot of Jägermeister. When I lived in Brazil for a month, I did get hooked on Guarana soda, but that stuff was low octane compared the the 27 cafezinhos I drank on a daily basis.

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So it was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation to learn about Lotus, a new premium energy drink being launched in Nashville. When I did a little online research beforehand, I became even more concerned. Shots of previous launch parties featured throngs of beautiful spokesmodels and buff men with popped collars and Ed Hardy shirts strutting around chugging small cans of Lotus that looked like generic AA batteries in their massive paws. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but that's just not my scene.

However I was intrigued by the local angle to the story. You see, Lotus Premium Energy Drink is the brainchild of three Nashville siblings, Li Jackson and her brothers Jay and Thomas Umboh. All three graduated from local high schools and started careers after college. Then a year ago, the Umbohs decided they wanted to reunite for a family business venture. They conducted a lot of market research to determine what sort of product they wanted to create, they chose the premium energy drink space, long dominated by Red Bull and Monster.

Underscoring the importance of marketing when dealing with the JägerBomb/beer pong demographic, the first things they developed was the product name and logo. I think they did a pretty good job with a bold image of a dragon and a lotus flower that would make a kickass tattoo. Next, they found a beverage manufacturer in Austria, the same country were Red Bull is produced. Because, y'know, that's apparently where all the energy is...

After spending 14 months sampling the many formulations which were Fed Ex'd across the Atlantic to them, the family finally settled on a recipe that reflected their vision for Lotus. With a flavor profile based around two "superfruits," acai and mangosteen, as well as a delicate wisp of lotus flower extract, the drink is pleasantly tropical and tangy without being cloyingly sweet. There are 30 grams of sugar per can and a hearty dose of caffeine to get you up and going, so I guess it's the addition of three different B vitamins and the claims of antioxidant goodness from the superfruits that qualify Lotus as somewhat healthy for you.

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All I know is that Lotus is damned tasty with some Malibu Rum. Other suggested drink recipes included a Dragon Ballz, the ubiquitous Jäger combo and cocktails made with Lotus and Patron and Lotus with Pinot Noir (!?!), which I neither sampled nor could recommend in good conscience. But hey, it takes all kinds. You might love them.

The manufacturers also claim that there is no "crash" like many Red Bull fans complain about an hour after they're done drinking. I only had one can, and I can fall asleep after mainlining Mountain Dew, so I'm probably not the best judge of the crash effect.

Lotus is priced similarly to its competitors, meaning you can probably find a can for around two bucks in your local convenience store. Believe it or not, one of their top local distributors is at Germantown's Cupcake Collection. For more places to find Lotus, check out their website, where you an also purchase directly online. They are hoping to expand distribution beyond their current base of Southern California, Northern Louisiana and Middle Tennessee by the end of this year.

While I'll probably never be a power user of Lotus since I prefer my caffeine in a travel mug with cream and sugar, I'm rooting hard for this venture. I found these three young entrepreneurs to be personable, thoughtful and determined. It would be great if they could take on the big bad Bull and win. Li, Tom and Jay aim to become the next Maloof brothers, who parlayed a family casino into an empire including ownership of sports franchises, film and movie production companies, beverage distribution and even their own skateboard tour. I wouldn't bet against them.

They plan to start an extensive street sampling program here in their home market, so try some Lotus soon and let us know what you think.

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