Bars Replace Russian Vodka

Owners say they're imposing sanctions of their own to support Ukraine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 26, 2022 4:55 PM CST
Bars Replace Russian Vodka
A space on a liquor shelf marks where Russian vodka was pulled from the Sidetrack, a gay bar in Chicago, as a response to a Russian anti-gay campaign in 2013.   (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)

Some bars and liquor stores think they’ve found a potent way to punish Russia for invading Ukraine: They’re pulling Russian vodka off their shelves and promoting Ukrainian brands instead. "I woke up yesterday morning, and I 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 US obviously is putting on sanctions. I thought I would put on sanctions as well." So he rid his shelves of the old Soviet brand Stolichnaya and started promoting Ukraine’s Vektor, the AP reports. "We have a sign above it that says: Support Ukraine." A Ukrainian flag is going up next week, he said.

Quay announced the move on Facebook, and "it blew up. We've got people coming in who've never been in the bar before." Likewise, the Southern Spirits liquor store in Indian Land, South Carolina, is doing a booming business in the Ukrainian vodka Kozak after pulling Russian brands off its shelves. "It's selling out a lot faster than we thought," said general manager Drew Podrebarac. "It's been 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."

In Canada, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario on Friday announced that "all products produced in Russia will be removed from LCBO channels," including 679 of its stores across the province. It promised to accept the return of any Russian products and declared that it "stands with Ukraine" and the Ukrainian Canadian community in Ontario. In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the Department of Commerce to halt the purchase and sale of Russian Standard vodka, and Ohio's 487 liquor agencies have been asked to pull Russian Standard and Green Mark vodka, per WKYC. In Wichita, retailer Jamie Stratton recommends Khor vodka, per WJW. "If you want to buy some vodka, don’t buy Russian," he said. "Buy Ukrainian."

(Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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