When you cozy up to your favorite sudsy stripper at Swinging Richards, you'll soon be doing it with a cocktail made without Russian vodka. The gay Atlanta bar is dumping Stoli and joining a growing protest.
Matt Colunga, the bar's general manager, says that as more customers started asking about the #dumprussianvodka and #dumpstoli effort, he talked with the owners of Swinging Richards and they agreed: Drop Stoli and any other Russian liquor.
"Is us dropping Stoli going to make Russia change their mind? No," Colunga says. "But we are making a statement."
The effort is a reaction to a Russian measure signed into law in June that bans public acknowledgement of sexual orientation or showing any support for LGBT rights. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a staunch LGBT advocate who represents portions of Atlanta, recently spoke out against the Russian measure with other lawmakers.
On June 15, Atlanta Eagle owner Robby Kelley took the lead among Atlanta bars by refusing to restock its Stoli.
So I came to a conclusion about stoli and other Russian made vodka. (I know stoli is not made in Russia but the profits made from it goes there.) the Atlanta Eagle will no longer carry these vodkas. When we are out, we are out. I'm a small bar but fill like its my job but to support a vodka or product from a country that just removed the rights of the lgbt community for the next 100 years.
On July 31, Blake's dumped the vodka, too.
These preceding laws enacted by homophobic leaders are outrageous. As a result, Blake’s on the Park will no longer be serving Russian owned, Stolichnaya vodka. While our refusal to serve Stoli in itself is not necessarily a grand gesture likely to bring about reform, this act may prove effective in helping to at least begin to stir the winds of change.
Four days later, on Aug. 4, Amsterdam made their position clear by posting an image that says, "Solidarity. Proudly not serving Stolichnaya."
But at least one gay Atlanta bar is sticking by its Stoli. Jungle's managing owner, Richard Cherskov, tells the GA Voice that a Stoli "boycott" is misplaced.
"I think this Stoli boycott is misplaced. Stoli has been a supporter of the community (at least in America) and this boycott will hurt Americans (i.e. local distributors, etc.) more than it help this cause in Russia," he said in an email interview.
"So for now we are not making any changes. I think this is akin to the 'boycott Florida' thing over the Zimmerman case — people want something to lash out against, but perhaps are doing so against the wrong target," Cherskov said.
But for Colunga and Swinging Richards, replacing Stoli with another vodka as the supplies run out, helps keep its customers happy.
"We replace it with a different type of vodka that is just as good, with just as many flavors and everybody is happy," he says.