The signs of solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they resist the Russian onslaught are multi-faceted. The yellow and blue of its national flag have become ubiquitous. Sunflowers are popping up everywhere. And across the world, government agencies, bars and restaurants have made a great show of pouring Russian-made vodka and other spirits down the drain as a sign of condemnation of Vladimir Putin's war.
In the Washington, D.C., suburb of Bethesda, Md., one watering hole has applied its outrage to its drinks menu. Local radio station WTOP reports that Caddies in Bethesda has deleted all mentions of "Russian" and renamed classic cocktails such as the "Moscow Mule" to the "Kyiv Mule" and rebranded white and black Russians as "White Ukraine" and "Black Ukraine."
"Effective Immediately, in support of the Ukraine and solidarity with the Ukrainian People, Caddies On Cordell in Bethesda will no longer purchase or serve Russian Vodka. Caddies has changed its cocktail names: Moscow Mule, White Russian and Black Russian to Kyiv Mule, White Ukrainian and Black Ukrainian. Caddies will also be donating a portion of the revenue from the sale of those cocktails to the Ukrainian Children’s Emergency Relief Fund," Caddies in Bethesda said in a Facebook post.
Owner Ronnie Heckman told WTOP he realizes his menu updates are insignificant compared to the heroism of the Ukrainian people living in the war zone that has become their country, but said. “We decided to take any positive attention away from Russia."
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"Obviously, this individual act is not really going to make a major difference in what’s going on,” Heckman said, “but [we’ll do] whatever we can do to help and bring awareness to the negative things that are going on right now.”
Since announcing the new drink menu, his social media has taken off.
“One post is over 1,000 [likes]; people keep sharing it,” Heckman said. “There was one person that said, ‘What’s the point of doing this? It’s not going to do anything.’ Yes, I understand, but that’s like the theory of voting. If you don’t vote, it’s not going to affect anything, but if everyone said that, it would affect it.”
For Heckman, the move is decidedly personal. "My mom’s side is Ukrainian,” Heckman told WTOP. “It definitely hits home a little bit. It just sucks. It’s a senseless act for no reason. We just want to do what we can to make sure that the people doing this realize that and hopefully we can stop it as soon as possible.” On the other side of his family tree, his father’s parents were Russian Jews.
“It just reminds you of a bad past that we went through when you had people in the early to mid-1900s that did things that were some of the worst things in the world [like Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 to start World War II],” Heckman said. “It makes you wonder how far this guy [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is willing to go.”
Heckman's also putting money behind the effort. “We’re going to have a couple days coming up with our full restaurant sales that we’ll be donating to the charity for the Ukrainian Children’s Emergency [Relief] Fund,” Heckman said. “We’ve also found another charity that we’re trying to verify that goes directly to the military and their families for the Ukrainian army and make sure that’s not a scam.”