Asking the important questions.
On Friday, President Biden announced a new round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which come in the form of an executive order banning a number of Russian imports, including diamonds, seafood, and vodka.
According to the White House, these latest sanctions will strip Russia of an additional $1 billion in revenue. “Putin is the aggressor, and Putin must pay a price,” Biden said. The president also confirmed that these measures are not necessarily “the last step we’re going to take” in response to Putin’s actions.
Sometimes it can be hard to visualize how a round of financial sanctions against a nation could impact your own life, but when you start to see bans on the important certain household products, the situation can start to feel closer to home. After all, vodka gets its name from the Russian word “voda,” which means water.
But while Russia is certainly known to be the birthplace of vodka, you might be surprised (or, let’s face it, relieved) to know that these sanctions shouldn’t impact the availability of the alcohol in the United States whatsoever.
Where does most of our vodka come from, anyway?
According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Russia provides only 1 percent of vodka imports for the United States. In fact, the number one vodka brand in the country is Tito’s, which is an American company based in Texas. Some of the other most popular vodka brands aren’t made in Russia, either; Grey Goose comes from France, for example, and Absolut hails from Sweden.
Even the brands that sound Russian tend to come from other countries. For example, Smirnoff Vodka is owned by a British company and produced in Illinois. Similarly, Stoli, previously known as Stolichnaya Vodka, technically had a Russian name (Stolichnaya roughly translates to “capital city,” referencing its origins in Moscow), but the company currently produces the liquor in Latvia and is headquartered in Luxembourg, per CNBC.
Stoli is one of many vodka brands making a big effort to distance itself from its Russian affiliation these days. On Friday, the vodka company released a statement confirming it would be changing its official name from Stolichnaya to Stoli.
The founder of the brand, Yuri Shefler, is a Russian billionaire who fled his birth country when Putin came into power. In the news release announcing the name change, Shefler said, “While I have been exiled from Russia since 2000 due to my opposition to Putin, I have remained proud of the Stolichnaya brand. Today, we have made the decision to rebrand entirely as the name no longer represents our organization. More than anything, I wish for Stoli to represent peace in Europe and solidarity with Ukraine.”
How to support vodka brands made in America
If this latest sanction has you wanting to buy American when it comes to your cocktails, you won’t have much trouble doing so. More than half of all vodka consumed domestically is actually made in the United States, CNN reports.
You shouldn’t expect to see a shortage of any of these vodka brands in the near future. However, you might see some shelf reorganizing at your local liquor store, depending on where you live. Several states have already banned the sale of Russian-made vodkas in liquor stores, including Utah, New Hampshire, and Ohio. This will affect a small number of Russian vodka brands, including Russian Standard and Ustianochka 80-proof, per NBC News.
If anything, this is a great excuse (not that we needed one…) to familiarize yourself with some American-made liquors. This handy list of American-made vodkas features excellent domestic options, and maybe you’ll even find a new favorite brand.