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Liquor-maker Beam (as in, "Jim") had a great first quarter, for two reasons. One was customers infuriated at a threat to dilute Maker's Mark. The other was Bethenny Frankel.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the company's big quarter, in which sales rose eight percent, thanks largely to a 44 percent spike in sales of one key brand.

Beam in February said it would slightly reduce the alcohol content of Maker's, a change that would allow it to produce more whiskey.

Consumers revolted. Thousands took to social-media sites to complain about the change to Maker's. Beam reversed the decision a week after the news broke.

During that terrifying week, customers flocked to buy a formulation of the whiskey that they thought would soon vanish forever. That fear helped push Beam over half a billion dollars in total sales for the quarter.

But it wasn't only Maker's that helped contribute to that figure. Here's the company's breakdown of changes in sales over the first quarter.

That long line extending to the right is Beam's hottest brand: Skinnygirl, the low-calorie liquor brand that's the brain child of reality TV star Frankel. When she sold the company to Beam in 2010, she earned a reported $100 million for the deal — and if the most recent data is any indicator, the liquor company's investment may have been a smart one. Of course it's easy to grow in triple-digit-percentages when you're still a small brand, but growth is growth.

It might not be the craziest idea for Beam to hold a press conference to thank their two most important customers: burly Maker's drinkers and figure-conscious people who enjoy flavored cocktails. Could be quite a marketing opportunity. Or maybe an idea for a dating site.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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