Bars protest invasion, abandon Russian vodka in favor of Ukraine

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2013

    An empty space on a liquor shelf where Russian vodka stood at The Sidetrack, a gay bar on Chicago’s North Side.

Some bars and liquor stores believe they have found a powerful way to punish Russia for invading Ukraine: they are removing Russian vodka from their shelves and promoting Ukrainian brands instead.

“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. United obviously impose sanctions. I was also thinking of imposing sanctions.

So he cleared his shelves of the old Soviet brand Stolichnaya and started promoting the Ukrainian Vektor. “We have a sign above that says: Support Ukraine.”

Quay announced the move on Facebook, and “it blew up. We have people who have never been in the bar before.

Similarly, liquor store Southern Spirits in Indian Land, South Carolina, is doing booming business with Ukrainian vodka Kozak after pulling Russian brands from its shelves.

“It’s selling out a lot faster than we thought,” said general manager Drew Podrebarac. “It was 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 announced on Friday that “all Russian-made products will be removed from LCBO chains,” including 679 of its stores across the province. He also promised to accept the return of any Russian product and said he “stands with Ukraine, its people and the Ukrainian Canadian community here in Ontario.”

In Grand Rapids, Quay said he may never sell Russian products again. And he takes a new step: “I ordered a Ukrainian flag, and it will go up next week.

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