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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Americans Pitching The National Drink

There are only two varieties of vodka: the good kind and very good kind. So goes the Russian joke. and now Russians will be able to choose which is the best kind - their homegrown Moskovskaya or the new, imported, believe or not, Newyorkskaya.


On Wednesday, Newyorkskaya vodka was officially introduced on the Russian market at a presentation held at the Arbat Hotel, the former Communist Party Central Committee hotel Oktyabrskaya.


"There are people who eat hamburgers and those who eat steak an poivre. We are targeting the latter", said Viktor Bondarenko, president of the New York-based Zigzag Venture group, which created the liquor. "I believe that people in this country are quality oriented, and we are commited to bringing quality products here". Quality comes with a price. Newyorkskaya will be sold for 2, 000 rubles for a 1 liter bottle, expensive compared to a liter bottle of Stolichnaya, which costs around 660 rubles at a commercial kiosk. The American vodka can also be bought for $7 at the M. Leader supermarket.


Bondarenko, an American whose father is Ukrainian and mother Russian, said that his product will bring a "taste of liberty", to Russia, a term that has become the theme of his advertising campaign. The vodka is produced in Boston, Massachusetts, and filtered with charcoal and sand filters at the distillery.


Within a year Bondarenko said he hopes to sell 1 million bottles of Newyorkskaya, which for now is on sale only in Russia.


The name Newyorkskaya was chosen because it was Russian and can be easily recognized, but at the same time is obviously foreign, and therefore more alluring to Russians.


"Whether you like it or not. American products here have sex appeal, and they sell", explained Bondarenko. Studies have shown that Russian consumers believe a product is better if it comes from the West.


Which, apparently, vodka originally


does. According to a Russian study of 1818, the national drink was a derivative of aqua vitae first brewed on the Mediterranean island of Majorca. Genoese traders then brought it to the Crimea, from where it spread to Muscovy. It caught on.


Bondarenko boasted that his company was the first to introduce quality products to Russia, keeping the wishes of the Russian consumer in mind.


Food overflowed the tables at the presentation on Wednesday and vodka was poured non-stop. Vyacheslav Osipov, a singer, nodded in approval after nipping at his drink, instead of throwing it back, the traditional Russian way.


"It is soft, very nice", he said, stroking his throat. "Good for the vocal chords. It's like Russian vodka used to be, about 20 years ago".