Bali Water’s vodka cocktails flow into conservation

The Vancouver-based company has sold 240,000 cans so far

In 2007, Mike Lawson, senior project manager with Langley-based Marcon Construction, went on a trip to Bali. He loved the culture, the people, the natural beauty—and he loved the vodka coconut waters.

Bali’s idea of a beach cocktail, according to Lawson, is pouring vodka into real coconuts. The unique flavour stuck with him for years. In 2018, his high school friend and Vancouver real estate agent Jeffrey Wolfgang Klassen also decided to go on a trip to Bali. Klassen came back longing for a vodka coconut by the beach. 

“That’s what inspired Bali Water,” says Lawson. “We really wanted to bring some tropical flavors back to Canada and give people that wanderlust kind of feeling when they take a sip of our product.” 

In 2019, the pair planned to launch Bali Water around the concept of creating canned cocktails using three ingredients: rice vodka, carbonated spring water and pure fruit juice.

Due to COVID delays, the company’s official launch was pushed to 2021, but it eventually came out with two flavours, watermelon and coconut, and last year scaled to add mango and pineapple to its offerings. As of 2023, it has sold 10,000 cases (translating to 240,000 cans) across 400 stores in Canada.  

Lawson and Klassen are both passionate about ocean conservation, and in Bali, factors like population growth, tourism development and the degradation of its water table (the underground line that holds the island’s water) is contributing to a major crisis.  

“They don’t have clean drinking water,” says Lawson, “so we wanted to figure out how to give back.” The co-founders partnered with a nonprofit on the island, IDEP Foundation, to support the Bali Water Protection Program, which is working on implementing well systems to recover rainwater. In the coming weeks, Bali Water will also announce a new partnership with a local water conservation organization in B.C., and it plans to launch two new flavours in January 2024 as a part of that collaboration. 

“We partnered with them originally because they actually started in Bali and they became a global company as well,” says Lawson. “And that’s kind of our aim.”