Alcohol farm

Here’s what you need to know as businesses dump booze amid Russian invasion

(Photo by Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stores and bars in some parts of the country, including some in the Phoenix areaeither stopped selling vodka or threw away vodka to protest the war.

Here’s what you need to know about the symbolic act and why it might not have the desired effect.

Why is vodka associated with Russia?

According to the Department of Russian Studies At Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, vodka was first introduced to Russia in the 1300s and throughout the country’s history has been prominently featured in social, political arenas and militarists.

“Its consumption is an important celebration of weddings, promotions, births, departures and funerals. Vodka advertisements also promote a similar sense of vodka’s essentiality to Russian culture or national pride,” reads -on in part of the website.

It is noted on the Encyclopedia Britannica website that the word “vodka” is of Russian origin, being a form of the Russian word vodameaning “water”.

Why are restaurants and bars boycotting Russian vodka now?

The answer to this question lies in Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

In Scottsdale, a restaurant owner took a stand against the war by throwing away his Russian liquor and excellent caviar.

Guillermo Gutierrez, the restaurant’s general manager, says his boss called him to tell him to get rid of the multi-thousand dollar produce at SumoMaya and his other restaurant, Local Bistro. They will replace them with Ukrainian products.

“We live in an amazing country that allows us to do it freely and not suffer the negative repercussions,” Gutierrez said. “We’re very passionate about that.”

The owner released a statement on the Russian invasion, saying, “…we feel compelled to make it clear that we stand with Ukraine and recognize the importance of freedom and expression.”

Are all vodkas made in Russia?


While some vodkas, like russian standardare made in Russia, many brands of vodka available in the United States today are actually made outside of Russia.

On his websiteAbsolut Vodka officials claim their products are made in Sweden, while Stoli Group officialswhich owns the Stoli vodka brand, among other vodka and non-vodka liquor brands, claims that their company’s vodka products are manufactured and bottled in Riga, Latvia, and are registered with US authorities as that Latvian product.

“Stoli® Vodka Brands and its owner Yuri Shefler were exiled from Russia almost two decades ago. ‘As the founder of the SPI group of companies, I have personally been persecuted by the Russian authorities and I share the pain of Ukraine and its people,'” the website read.

While Smirnoff Vodka can trace its beginnings to Moscow in the 1800s, the company’s website says its founders had to leave Russia in the 1910s and started producing vodka again in France in the 1920s. The brand is now owned by Diageoheadquartered in both New York and London.

During this time, the Tito’s Handmade Vodka website declares that their products are manufactured in Austin, Texas, and an FAQ page on the Gray Goose website claims that their products are distilled and bottled in France.

How much vodka do we buy from Russia?

According to figures from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Russian vodka imports are only around $18.5 million of the approximately $1.41 billion in vodka imports in 2021.

“Some of the popular vodka brands that consumers may consider Russian are not produced in Russia. There is not much Russian-made vodka on the US market. Imports of Russian vodka into the United States have declined by nearly 79% since 2011, and only accounted for 1.3% of total vodka imports in 2021,” said Lisa Hawkins of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

How do you know which vodka is made in Russia?

Sometimes it’s a matter of reading the labels. Some brands of vodka would state the provenance of the product, either prominently or elsewhere on the label.

On February 27, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s Facebook page listed a number of vodka brands of Russian origin:

  • Beluga
  • hammer and sickle
  • Imperia
  • Mamont
  • Organic
  • russian standard
  • ZYR

The Facebook post did not otherwise state whether the brands listed above support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

And the caviar?

Although caviar is considered a Russian food by some, like vodka, this does not mean that all caviar comes from Russia.

For example, the Russian Caviar website claims that their imported caviar comes from a sturgeon farm in Germany.

During this time, the Tsar Nicoulai website talks about their farming operations in California, and their online store also lists where their caviar comes from, and some of their products are labeled as coming from countries like Bulgaria and Greece.

Besides boycotting Russian vodka, what are people doing to show their support for Ukraine?

In the United States, various government officials have announced measures aimed at Russia.

In Georgia, the state spokesman said he would seek to have state pension funds quickly divested of all Russian assets, while the state secretary of state called companies and investors based in Georgia to stop doing business with Russia or any company that supports Russia. .

In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order that bars her state from doing business with Russia. She also ordered state agencies to hand over money and assets of companies or institutions helping Russia in its war against Ukraine.

Other measures are more symbolic. The governors of Pennsylvania and Arizona ordered their capitals to be illuminated with the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, while Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican , issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. . Walz and DeWne are co-chairs of the President’s Appointed Board of Governors.

According to a tweet from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has created a new “International Legion” unit that non-Ukrainians can join to help with the war effort.

Besides, various charities help in relief and recovery efforts in Ukraine.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

Continuous coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian War

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