‘This is our sanction’: Liquor stores, bars taking a stand by dumping Russian vodka

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Liquor stores and bars throughout the United States and Canada are reportedly removing Russian vodka from their shelves and either pouring them down the drain, replacing them with Ukrainian vodka or both.

Reporting on this growing phenomenon, the Miami Herald noted Friday that “some liquor stores and bars are imposing their own sanctions,” wink, wink.

Clever, though the Herald admitted that this word choice wasn’t their idea. The idea originated with people like Jamie Stratton, the partner and director of the popular Wichita liquor store Jacob Liquor Exchange.

“I think the whole world knows by now that Russia’s at war with Ukraine for no apparent reason. I guess this is our sanction,” Stratton said in an interview this week with local media.

“We don’t support it. There’s no reason to support it. There’s no reason for them to invade the Ukrainians, and this may be small, but every small thing makes a difference,” he added.

However, Stratton also admitted that he isn’t throwing away his Russian vodka and would still be willing to selling it if a customer requests it. For the time being, he’s just pulling the vodka off his shelves.

The same can’t be said of the owners of the Magic Mountain Ski Area in Vermont. Below is a video of a Magic Mountain Ski Area bartender pouring his Russian vodka down the drain without a shred of remorse::

Meanwhile in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the owner of Bob’s Bar told local media that he intends to remove roughly 10 bottles of Russian vodka from his inventory and replace them with something else.

“It’s a protest against the aggression. I just made the decision on the spot. It’s something little we can do,” he said.

He reportedly added that once the weather warms up, he may perform a public dumping-out-the-bottles ceremony outside.

As noted before, these efforts are happening nationwide, including in Bend, Virginia:

And even in Las Vegas, where pizza parlor Evel Pie announced on Thursday that it’ll be “pouring out” all its Russian vodka and replacing them with Ukrainian vodka:

SHOTS FIRED!! Starting Saturday Evel Pie Las Vegas is pouring out All of its Russian Vodka bottles and replacing them…

Posted by Evel Pie on Thursday, February 24, 2022

According to Evel Pie, the Ukrainian Vodka will be sold in $5 “F–k Putin” shots, with proceeds going to “Humanitarian Relief Efforts operating within Ukraine.”

The Herald notes that these efforts are also present in Canada, though there’s a slight difference. Whereas the efforts are being made voluntarily in the states, in Canada they’re pretty much required, or at least in some provinces.

“The people of Ontario will always stand against tyranny and oppression. To that end, I am directing the LCBO to withdraw all products produced in Russia from store shelves,” Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy reportedly said Friday.

The LCBO stands for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, a government-controlled business that just happens to also be the largest alcohol retailer in the province. Russian products are reportedly expected to be removed from 679 liquor stores thanks to Bethlenfalvy’s order alone.

According to the Herald, “Canadian liquor stores in the provinces of Manitoba and Newfoundland” have also “said they would be removing Russian spirits.”

The big question now is whether these efforts will have any significant effect. Maybe? But maybe not …

The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that many so-called Russian liquor brands aren’t actually made in Russia.

“A Russian name does not a Russian vodka make. Take Stoli. Though Stolichnaya is a historically Russian brand and is made at least partly from Russian wheat, almost all of the Stoli sold in the West is made in Latvia,” according to the paper.

Someone may want to tell that to the owners of Magic Mountain Ski Area …

As for boycotting actual Russian vodka, even then there’s an issue. Paul Isely, an Associate Dean and Economics Professor at Grand Valley State University, told Grand Rapids station WZZM that Russian vodka accounts for only $41 million in sales.

“That’s really small compared to the $1.7 trillion economy in Russia, but for a company that can be very big so if we were to decrease the units sold, it would affect the profitability of those companies and affect their willingness to support [the conflict],” he said.

But, he cautioned, this would unlikely affect Russian President Vladimir Putin, let alone Russia’s economy.

But on the other hand, Isely admitted, even symbolic boycotts have some meaning.

“Having this symbolism that says, yes, there’s a large group of people who are supporting this by showing it and doing this type of thing. By boycotting a product, it can help show people across the world that the United States isn’t divided by these types of things,” he said.

Fair enough …

Vivek Saxena


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