As they watch a Russian invasion unfold in Eastern Europe, some metro Atlanta bartenders and proprietors are in solidarity with the people of Ukraine by swapping out ingredients and renaming cocktails with references to Russia.
“It may be small, but it’s a symbolic gesture to say, ‘We stand with Ukraine,” said Sean Yeremyan, owner of Big Table Restaurants, which includes Hobnob Neighborhood Tavern and Cattle Shed. His restaurants in Alpharetta, Atlantic Station, Brookhaven and Dunwoody serve countless mules ― now named Ukrainian Mules ― especially on Thursdays, when they’re on special for $6. “This will be a permanent change that we incorporate into our new menus,” Yeremyan said.
Traditionally made with vodka, ginger beer and lime, the Moscow Mule was the first cocktail created to advertise a spirit. The company that distributed Smirnoff Vodka met an immigrant from Russia who arrived with copper mugs and a goal to sell them. The Sunset Strip bar owner was sitting on an overorder of ginger beer. Putting the three things together with the addition of lime juice and lime wheel garnish popularized vodka and the cocktail we know today.
At Deer and the Dove, bar manager Matt Watkins tweaked the restaurant’s Buck recipe, which normally is made with any spirit, citrus and ginger ale or beer. Buck the Invasion mixes together non-Russian vodka, akvavit, lime, ginger beer and house-made apple bitters.
“Akvavit means ‘water of life’ and apples are a big crop for Ukraine,” Watkins said.
At 8Arm, general manager Joshua Fryer is now serving up a Red Menace. “I came up with this cocktail as a tribute to Ukraine and named it after the Cold War term used for the Soviet Union,” Fryer said .
The drink is a mix of non-Russian vodka, slivovitz (a blue plum brandy produced in Eastern Europe), lemon, honey and soda, topped with red Creole Bitters.
“The red bitters creep down like it’s invading the rest of the drink, which is meant to represent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Fryer said.
The drink is meant to be anti-Putin, not anti-Russian, according to Fryer. “I feel horribly for not just Ukrainians, but also everyday Russians that want nothing to do with this war and will also suffer under sanctions and further neglect from their government.”
American-made Fuzzy’s Vodka also has called for a name change. Created by PGA legend Frank Urban “Fuzzy” Zoeller, the Indiana vodka is distilled with Midwest corn. Brand owner Zoeller, who won the U.S. Open and the Masters Tournament, suggests renaming the cocktail American Stallion.
“I’ve played golf all over the world and can tell you that there’s no better place in the world than America,” said Zoeller. “As Americans we need to stand by and support democracy throughout the world.”
Fuzzy’s Vodka will donate 20% of sales to the Red Cross in March and April, specifically the SAF Division, which serves the military and veteran community. He will be making appearances at Augusta retailers the week of the Masters in April.
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