DAVENPORT, Iowa — A Davenport bar is joining businesses across the U.S. in taking Russian-made alcohol off of its shelves.
Off Point Pub owner Brenda Milam poured her stash of Stolichnaya (Stoli) Vodka down the drain to show support for Ukraine.
"I knew I was wasting it, but I had to think about the Ukrainian people," Milam said. "I'm not political. I'm really nobody. I'm a small business … but it's those home videos that I was watching from Ukrainian people that just broke my heart."
Some have pointed out that Stoli isn't actually a Russian-made product. According to its website, it's manufactured and bottled in Riga, Latvia, and registered with the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as a Latvian product.
Stoli has even issued a statement that it condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine and stands in support of the Ukrainian people.
However, Milam said when she was researching the alcohol, she found the wheat used in it is produced in Russia.
"They still purchased their wheat, and it's still partially distilled in Russia, so it's not Russian. But whatever I can do to get money out of Russia, and I'm gonna get it," she said. "You just do what you can for that one person."
She said she's prepared for her pub to take a financial hit by not selling Stoli.
"It's one of my number one sellers here, so I understand there's going to be some hit," Milam said. "But enough is enough. We just got to stand, especially as small businesses. We can't do a lot, but I mean, enough is enough."
Much of the vodka imported into the U.S. is not from Russia. Only 1.2% of U.S. vodka imports came from Russia in the first half of 2021, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Total vodka imports were valued at $18 million, making Russia the 6th largest importer, significantly behind France's $660 million, Netherlands' $290 million, Sweden's $176 million, Latvia's $137 million and Poland's $63 million.
Milam still hopes the boycott will be a symbol of support for Ukraine, and she's in it for the long haul, making no plans to sell Stoli anytime soon.
The state of Iowa is also taking part in the trending ban. Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday, Feb. 28 ordered the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division to remove all Russian-produced alcoholic liquor produces from its wholesale purchase list.
In Iowa, imported vodka was the 9th highest-selling type of alcohol, with $14,992,856 worth of product sold, according to the ABD's 2021 sales report. The report does not mention how much of that is specifically Russian products, but none of the state's 50 highest-selling liquor brands originate from Russia.