So, as you may have noticed, there’s been a lot of talk about boycotting Stoli vodka because of its ties to Russia. While the intentions are good, they are a bit misguided. The good queens at Brightest Young Things provided a comprehensive history of the Stolichnaya brand, accompanied by some timely GIFs. The following six more or less give you a vodka-soaked gist of what this boycott is all about and why it’s actually doing more harm than good.
For the sake of transparency, and the fact that there’s probably a Stoli Premium Vodka ad to the right of this story right now, Queerty and our sister site, GayCities, are producing The Original Stoli Guy program with SPI, which makes and distributes Stoli Premium Vodka worldwide and is headquartered in Luxembourg in Western Europe (in other words, not Russia!).
BYT’s Complete History of Stoli Vodka as Told by GIFs, however, is completely unbiased.
So without further ado, let’s set sail on this booze cruise through the history of Stolichnaya, via BYT & Queerty.
Stoli was traditionally a Russian vodka until it was acquired by Russian billionaire Yuri Sheffler, who absconded with the brand in 2001 following a crackdown by President Vladimir Putin on the country’s Scrooge McDucks.
BYT: In the case of Stolichnaya and Sheffler, Putin was all like “I will hunt you down to the end of the Earth and take your vodka company. And Sheffler was like “Whatevs…”
So for the past 12 years, Stoli hasn’t been a Russian company. Rather, it’s owned by SPI, which as stated in the above disclaimer, is headquartered in Luxembourg. But that didn’t keep Putin from setting up his own Stoli, sold exclusively in Russia. You may have noticed Russia does not produce many international brands, only natural resources. That’s because the Russian government tends to usurp and then ruin any good brands. Sweden has more great brands for a country a fraction the size.
BYT: Putin’s zombie Stoli only sells Stolichnaya vodka inside Russia, but it retains the same label and packaging. Think of it as Stoli’s evil Russian twin. But, unless you’re drinking Stolichnaya vodka in Russia, you are not drinking Russian Stoli vodka. You’re drinking Dutch/Latvian vodka.
Putin, being a manly man’s man and generally a giant prick, still wanted to guzzle whatever Stoli outside of Russia that he could.
BYT: So, he decided to go all Legally Blonde and fight Yuri Sheffler in every court he could around the world in order to take control of the Stoli brand.
But he’s lost every battle so far. He has won, however, a campaign to demonize gays with a series of laws banning so-called “propaganda” and the adoption of Russian orphans by same-sex foreign couples.
BYT: That pissed off the gays, and they decided to do something about it.
That’s where Dan Savage stepped in with his #DumpStoli campaign, and as a result the streets have ran drunk with vodka (or aqua) dumped and ditched by gay rights activists and bars alike. The catch, however, is that Stoli’s not actually Russian.
BYT: “Whatever,” Dan Savage and his ‘Dump Stoli’ friends responded. “At the end of the year Stoli will be a Russian company again.” Well…not exactly. A court in the Hauge ruled that the Stoli brand in the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and Belgium did belong to the Russian Federation. So, it could be possible that Putin could be selling his zombie Stoli vodka in those three countries soon (but, just there). But, it’s still unclear if that will happen. We’ll wait to see what the legal experts have to say.
In the meantime, the DumpStoli campaign isn’t hurting Russia but it is hurting Latvia and its LGBT community, as expressed in a statement by the Latvian LGBT group Mozaika, calling for an end to the boycott:
We would like to draw your attention to the “Dump Stoli! Dump Russian Vodka!” campaign, which is aimed at the Stolichnaya vodka brand. Stolichnaya vodka is not produced in Russia, and it is misleading to say that it is a Russian product. All Stolichnaya vodka for worldwide export is produced in Latvia….As you know, Latvia was under Soviet occupation for over 50 years, therefore we are still very often mistakenly considered to be a part of Russia. Latvia is a proud member of the European Union and is striving to be an open, democratic country.
We would kindly ask you to reconsider your actions in regards to ‘Dump Stoli! Dump Russian Vodka!’ as this campaign will only harm Latvia, Latvia’s economy and employees of the company Latvijas Balzams. It could also backfire and have unintended negative consequences for the extremely fragile LGBT community in Latvia.
BYT: So, can you drink Stoli? If you are outside of Russia, drink up. Not only is Stolichnaya an extremely LGBT friendly brand, every bottle of Stoli vodka sold pisses off Vladimir Putin to no end. We hope that Dan Savage will soon join reality so we can go back to fantasizing about giving him blowjobs.*
*[Ed. Note: 3-Way.]