Bars and liquor stores pull Russian branded vodka

Some bars and liquor stores have taken action to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: they are removing Russian vodka from their shelves and promoting Ukrainian brands instead.

“I woke up yesterday morning and saw that Russia had invaded Ukraine. You wonder what you can do,” said Bob Quay, owner of Bob’s Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The United States is obviously imposing sanctions. I thought I would impose sanctions as well.”

So he cleared his shelves of the old Soviet brand Stolichnaya and started promoting the Ukrainian Vektor. “We have a sign above that says: Support Ukraine.”

Quay announced the move on Facebook, and “it’s exploded. We have people who have never been in the bar before.”

Stoli, owned by Russian-born tycoon Yuri Shefler, is actually made in Latvia. On its website, the Stoli group claims that it “represents peace in Europe and solidarity with the Ukrainian people”.

Liquor store Southern Spirits in Indian Land, South Carolina is experiencing a business boom for Ukrainian vodka Kozak after removing Russian brands from its shelves.

“It’s selling out a lot faster than we thought,” said general manager Drew Podrebarac. “It was awesome.”

The Magic Mountain ski resort in Londonderry, Vermont, posted a video on Twitter showing an employee pouring Stolichnaya down the drain and saying, “Sorry, we don’t serve Russian products here.”

Governors have also entered the fray. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered the state’s Department of Commerce to stop buying and selling Russian Standard, the only Russian vodka sold in Ohio. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order requiring liquor outlets in the state to remove Russian-branded and Russian-made liquor, as did Utah Governor Spencer Cox.

Virginia State Senate Democrat L. Louise Lucas calls for “the removal of all Russian vodka and other Russian products” from the nearly 400 Liquor Control Authority stores operated by the State of Virginia.

And Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., wrote on Twitter: “Throw away all the Russian vodka and, along with the ammo and missiles, ship the empty bottles to Ukraine to use in Molotov cocktails.

Information for this article was provided by Azi Paybarah of The New York Times.

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Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement