Even though it’s not going to make a huge impact on the country’s bottom line or on Ukraine’s frontlines, some say it’s worth a shot.
ST. LOUIS — Could the war in Ukraine be settled over a drink? Unlikely, but that’s not to say some aren’t trying.
Around the country, people are dumping their Russian vodka. In the spirit of opposing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some states are officially boycotting the beverage — bars are taking it off the menu, liquor stores off the shelves.
“I kind of talked to our staff about what they felt they wanted to do and kind of decided to follow suit a little bit, at least to kind of provide some solidarity,” said Todd Randall, owner of Randall’s Wine and Spirits stores around the St. Louis area.
They took Russian beers and vodkas off the shelves Monday — though that was less work than some might expect.
“Not a lot of products that are imported or that are made in Russia or actually distributed here,” he said.
Because of historical ties and cultural connections, many modern brands lean on Russian or even Soviet-era imagery in their design and marketing. However, more than half of those brands are actually American, and less than 1% of vodka consumed in the United States is produced in Russia.
“Smirnoff, which everyone thinks is Russian, is actually produced and bottled in our neighboring state and Illinois. Stoli, which obviously has the history of being Russian, is actually produced a couple countries over from that, their headquarters in Luxembourg, they’re actually produced in Latvia. So it’s not really Russian,” said Randall.
Those brands remain available at Randall’s stores.
The Stoli Group website currently carries a disclaimer in opposition to the Russian invasion: “Stoli Group stands for peace in Europe and in solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” it reads. “Liberate Ukraine.”
“The big one, that kind of we just stopped carrying, is Russian standard, which is produced in Russia and is Russian owned,” said Randall.
CNN reports its parent company, Roust International, is owned by Roustam Tariko, a Russian oligarch who also owns Russian Standard Bank. Randall said they sell a few cases a year of Russian Standard across all stores.
Randall said even though it’s not going to make a huge impact on the store’s bottom line or on Ukraine’s frontlines, it’s worth a shot.
“It’s just kind of one thing to help kind of make a stand,” he said.