Photograph by Anthony Mair

If you’ve spent any time in Las Vegas’ nightlife meccas, you might have seen Resqwater’s distinct skinny blue bottles. Even more telling of the brand’s popularity, it’s frequently hashtagged in party photos on Instagram, and has even made its way onto the enormous digital marquee at The Linq. How did this anti-hangover drink suddenly appear all over nightclubs, on the bedsides of nearly 2,200 (and counting) hotel rooms on the Strip and in the hands of celebrity influencers? Resqwater’s success is very much a tale of its time, its quick ascent attributable to the power of social media. It could very well serve as the model for modern branding and marketing.

But an innovative marketing strategy is only as effective as the product it’s selling. And Resqwater’s founders know they can stand behind it. The crew is a tight-knit group of accomplished individuals who come from different backgrounds. Troy Michels, the cofounder and CEO, boasts an impressive career with companies such as K2, Universal Orlando, Aspen/Snowmass and Target; cofounder Tom Knutsen is a Southern Wine & Spirits veteran; and Tal Cooperman, a partner and the brand’s face in nightlife, is a successful clothing designer.

“Resqwater is bottled in Yorba Linda, California,” Michels says. “It’s pretty unique, actually. It is filled aseptically, which means the liquid is heated quickly, then cooled down and filled in the bottle. You know when you grab most other water products out there [and] the bottle has ridges? Well, that’s because they’re typically filled [when the liquid is] pretty hot to sterilize the product, and the bottle has to expand and contract. We’re filled aseptically, which helps protect our ingredients.”

And those ingredients are natural and organic. Each UV-protected bottle of Resqwater contains organic prickly pear extract, organic cane sugar, B vitamins, N-acetyl L-cysteine and milk thistle to purportedly metabolize acetaldehyde, the compound that makes you feel “lousy” after imbibing. It’s also gluten free and certified kosher.

And then there is the novel approach to brand marketing. Rather than using more traditional schemes, the team focuses first on social media by taking a personal approach, touching consumers individually. “We built [the brand] from those celebrating the product and us celebrating them in return, whether that means a simple comment back on Twitter or a retweet or a screenshot and a repost on Instagram of what they’ve posted about us,” Michels says. “Those who celebrate us, we’re gonna celebrate them.”

Today Resqwater is sold in 10 states, including California, Colorado, Massachusetts and New York. In Las Vegas, it is ubiquitous in nightlife and daylife destinations such as Drai’s’ rooftop club, which sells the drink and also keeps a complimentary stock for the staff. It’s been seen in the hands of celebrities such as Linkin Park and reality star Brody Jenner.

Michels wants Resqwater to be “what to drink, when you drink.” Given the promise it has already shown, it won’t be surprising if it grows to be even bigger than that oversize digital marquee in the heart of the Strip. Follow @resqwater on Instagram to watch who drinks it tonight.

Kat Boehrer hit the Strip with the guys from Resqwater and here’s what was on the agenda. Follow their night below. Illustrations by Javon Isaac