Bottle shops around the world and across Australia are taking a stand against attacks by Russia on Ukraine, dumping its spirits from their shelves.
Businesses in the US and Canada have reportedly pulled Russian vodka and other Russian products from sale, with some even pouring the spirits down the drain.
Officials in parts of the US and Canada have even ordered bottle shop owners to remove Russian products, including in Ohio, Utah and New Hampshire.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox requested on Saturday that state-run liquor outlets “remove all Russian-produced and Russian-branded products,” explaining that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an “egregious violation of human rights.”
New Hampshire’s Gov. Chris Sununu made a similar announcement, also asking for the removal of “Russian-made and Russian-branded spirits.”
In New Zealand, one of the largest alcohol retail chains pulled thousands of bottles of vodka including the Ivanov and Russian Standard brands, and filled the empty shelves with Ukrainian flags.
Australian chains join protest
The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) on Monday called for a national ban on the import and distribution of Russian goods.
BWS and Dan Murphy’s have responded by pulling Russian vodka and other alcohol made in the country from shelves in response to the Ukraine invasion. Russian-import vodka brands include Russian Standard, Beluga and Green Mark.
An Endeavour Group spokesperson said the decision was based on feedback from “a variety of stakeholders”.
“As an organisation, Endeavour Group is deeply concerned with the situation in Ukraine and we join the calls for peace,” the spokesperson said.
“Following feedback from a variety of stakeholders, we have decided to remove products of Russian origin from our stores, hotels and online businesses in the coming days.”
Coles has joined a boycott of Russian vodka as liquor retailers, removing the drinks from sale at Liquorland, Vintage Cellars and First Choice.
“The thoughts of everyone at Coles Liquor are with the people of Ukraine and we hope for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis as soon as possible,” a Coles Liquor spokeswoman said.
Top Shelf launches Grainshaker Stands with Ukraine campaign
Top Shelf International (TSI) via its Melbourne-distilled Grainshaker Vodka brand has launched a ‘Grainshaker Stands with Ukraine’ campaign to provide support to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country.
The campaign will run for three months until 26 May and was kicked off today with a $50,000 donation by Top Shelf International to the Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
Further fund raising will be conducted through the sale of specially-labelled Grainshaker Vodka bottles that will available for sale via the brand’s website and TSI’s venue, The Distiller, in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote.
TSI will donate a further $15 to the appeal for every 700ml bottle sold.
TSI Executive Chairman Adem Karafili said: “Like the rest of the world, we are watching the distressing scenes unfolding in Ukraine and our hearts go out to the men, women and children who must be experiencing unimaginable fear and
uncertainty right now.
“Over the past week, we’ve consulted with the Ukraine Crisis Appeal to develop a campaign that will provide positive support, and most importantly, humanitarian aid to those affected by the conflict.”
Vodka brands incorrectly targetted
Some bar owners are inadvertently protesting the invasion by dumping vodka products that aren’t made in Russia, such as Stoli.
In a statement to CNN Business, Stoli Group said it “unequivocally condemns the military action in Ukraine and stands ready to support the Ukrainian people, our teams and partners.”
“For decades, Stoli Group has supported the marginalized and those at risk of unwarranted aggression. We stand now with all Ukrainians and Russians calling for peace,” a company spokesperson said.
Smirnoff is another brand being confused as being Russian. Although it traces its heritage to 19th century Russia, the company has long been owned by Diageo.
Amber Beverage Group, which owns several vodka brands, has also voiced its support for the people of Ukraine.
Jekaterina Stuģe, the Chief Executive Officer at Amber Beverage Group, said: “With deep roots in the Baltic region, we could not silently observe what is happening from the sidelines. Together with much of the world we are sharing sadness and deep concerns due to the escalating situation in Ukraine and we are looking for practical opportunities to help. Military action in Ukraine is unacceptable for us and we aim to offer support to the people affected. Apart from the donation, we will be looking for further opportunities to give aid to our near neighbours.
“Today more than ever we want to emphasize that Amber Beverage Group is a Luxembourg-headquartered, global company and that our business and our core brands, like, Moskovskaya Vodka, Riga Black Balsam, Rooster Rojo Tequila and others, are international brands, built on cultural heritage and produced in Latvia, Estonia, Ireland, or Mexico, mainly using production materials from European countries. In seven years, we have grown from a pan-Baltic spirits business into a leading producer, distributor, logistics service provider and retailer of beverages serving thousands of clients across the globe.”
Ukrainian brewery switches from craft beer to Molotov cocktails
Local news outlet The Kyiv Independent has reported that the Lviv-based brewery Pravda has paused its bottling operations to make Molotov cocktails.
“Our freedom is at stake,” the brewery wrote on Instagram. “Many of us went through the bloody street protests of 2014, which overthrew the ex-president, who is now hiding in Russia. Practice helps!”
Taras Maselko, PR director of Pravda’s holding company !Fest, told Euronews: “We are scared,” admits Maselko. “We don’t want the war. And people are scared here. We have lines of people trying to go to Europe, mostly ladies with their kids. It’s tough to see something like this. But still, we’re getting ready to defend our country from the occupation. We’re doing everything we can to prepare.”