Some bars and liquor stores believe they have found a way to punish Russia for invading Ukraine: Remove Russian vodka from its shelves and promote Ukrainian brands.
“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 putting sanctions in place. I thought I would also put sanctions.”
Then, he removed the former Soviet brand Stolichnaya from his shelves and began promoting the Ukrainian Vektor.
“We put a sign on top that says: Support Ukraine,” he said.
When Quay announced this change via Facebook, “it was a success. People have arrived who have never been to the bar before.”
Actually, Stolichnaya, owned by Russian-born tycoon Yuri Shefler, is manufactured in Latvia.
On its website, the Stoli Group, a company specialized in the production of alcoholic beverages, states that “it is in favor of peace in Europe and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.”
The Southern Spirits liquor store, in Indian Land, South Carolina, is making a big deal with Ukrainian Kozak vodka after removing Russian brands from its shelves.
“It’s running out much faster than we thought,” general manager Drew Podrebarac said. “It’s been incredible.”
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.”
The governors weren’t far behind either: Mike DeWine, governor of Ohio, ordered the state Department of Commerce to cease buying and selling Russian Standard, the only Russian vodka sold in Ohio through the Green Mark and Russian Standard brands. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed an executive order requiring the state’s liquor establishments to recall Russian-made and branded alcohol.
In Canada, the Ontario Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (LCBO) announced Friday that “all products produced in Russia will be removed from LCBO channels,” including 679 from its stores across the province.
He also promised to accept the return of any Russian goods and stated that he “stands with Ukraine, its people and the Ukrainian-Canadian community here in Ontario.”
In Grand Rapids, Quay said it would not sell Russian products again. And he has taken another step: “I have commissioned a Ukrainian flag that I will place next week.”