Next time a pretty girl in a dirndl hands you a shot, raise that glass to Sidney Frank. The spirits entrepreneur, who died on January 10 at the age of 86, pioneered such now-standard promotions as sponsoring rock concerts and deploying attractive saleswomen in bars.
His first coup came in 1972 when he turned Jägermeister, an herbal tonic favored by working-class Germans, into the shot of choice for U.S. college students. Last year, sales of Jägermeister grew by 28 percent to 2.3 million cases, the most of any major brand.
Frank's crowning success, however, came in 2004, when he sold another of his brands, Grey Goose, to Bacardi for more that $2 billion. Frank created the premium-priced vodka only seven years before he sold it. He did the deal, he told Inc. last year, because he "wanted to count the money while I was on this side of the ground."
He also donated $125 million to Brown University. As his succession plan mandated, Frank's daughter will take over his business, which includes Jägermeister, Corazón de Agave tequila, and a new wine collection.