Three big Parisian gay bars ban Russian vodka

Imagine my surprise.  I’m out for a drink last night with an American friend visiting from DC, I’m sipping on my strawberry mojito (they like to add fruit to them here in Paris), and suddenly I see a sign on the wall of a bar in the very-gay Marais neighborhood, and it says something about “homophobic law.”

I’m thinking, this can’t be.  So I get up close, and what do you know.  The bar, and its two sister bars, are no longer serving Russian vodka because of the anti-gay crackdown in Russia.


It reads:

“In response to the homophobic law in Russia, we will no longer sell vodka from that country.”

It’s signed Cox, freedj, and Who’s – three of the rather popular gay bars in Paris.

The helpful bartender, who I asked about it, even mentioned Dan Savage’s name to me, as the guy who launched the boycott.

Very small-worldly experience :)


Who’s bar in the Marais, with the sign up on the mirror in back.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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49 Responses to “Three big Parisian gay bars ban Russian vodka”

  1. For the record, I attempted to speak French and I was laughed at and then made fun of for trying. Sometimes you can’t win.

  2. I’m there!

  3. Pierre-Yves says:

    Hello Jim, it seems that you have a great experience of “the French”!…

    Actually, some French are anti-American because they consider that Americans are arrogant. (For example, Americans are supposed to speak very loudly, and make absolutly no effort to say a few words in the language of the country they go to). And the French-bashing on American media (fox news, CNN…) doesn’t help for the image of Americans in France…

    But those anti-American French are not the majority. You can even find some French who can be nice and polite, and who can get by in English.
    If you come to Nice one day, send me an email. You’ll be welcome home, and we’ll both try not to be too snooty… ;)

  4. Pewee says:

    Vive la France !… ;)

  5. My (American) friend was just there recently and he asked a waiter where the bathroom was (in English). The waiter grimaced, pointed outside and said, through that door with the dogs on the street!

  6. ArthurH says:

    Tell me about it. When I traded in my extremely unreliable Renault Alliance for a Chevrolet Nova, I was told by an employee at my regular gas station I was a traitor for buying a foreign product. I noted that the Nova was made in California and had 70% U.S.-sourced content and only 30% Japanese content. On the other hand, the Alliance, though assembled in Wisconsin, had only 20% U.S. content and 80% content from France, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. The guy refused to believe me (after all, the California plant was majority owned by Toyota). So I took my business elsewhere. The guy must have chased away lots of other customers because within two years Shell withdrew his franchise. And in five years the station was knocked down to make way for a Taco Bell.

  7. ArthurH says:

    When I was in Paris more than 20 years ago, I was told at the hotel that the French Parliament had voted that year to be “Be Kind to Tourists Year.” On the basis of how I was treated I would have hated to be around when they were on their normal behavior. Maybe it had to do with the café in Galleries Lafayette serving something called American Hamburger that had horse as its main ingredient.

  8. FunMe says:

    I hope my favorite Buddha Bar from Paris, that I hear in their beautiful amazing world music, also gets rid of serving Vodka from the homophobic Russia!

  9. Leora Veradex says:

    This world seriously doesn’t need anymore gay people. -_-

  10. Luke James says:

    I’m some what ? what it is you say ?as in what do you mean ? Are people really leaving Islam in such #s ? And what of you ? are you leaving too ? or do you try to change from inside ?

  11. Last time I went was 20 years ago and the people were so incredibly rude I swore I wouldn’t go back. I have travelled all over Europe and had so many good experiences, and visited so many wonderful cities that I also I don’t feel I need to. That said, I definitely see it’s appeal and I know plenty of Americans who love it. After 20 years I’d be willing to give it another try, especially since I have come to terms with who they are, how they may act, and also the fact that I’m not as sensitive as I was when I was 20. Today, I would laugh more than be appalled at their rude behavior. But I really want to see it with someone who knows it well.
    I”m reading a book you may find interesting. It’s called The Story of French. Spanish is my second language, but the same couple that wrote The Story of Spanish (which was amazing) are from Canada and so their primary paired language is French/English and their first book is about French. Pretty interesting stuff.

    Here’s the link to amazon if you are interested/haven’t heard of it or read it yet:

  12. kurtsteinbach says:

    The Muslim year is 1434….

  13. kurtsteinbach says:

    I don’t drink much, and I don’t drink vodka, but some friends of mine who do here in Memphis, TN, have told me that more than a few bars and clubs in and around the Memphis area refuse to sell Russian Vodka, especially Stoli. BTW, the establishments in question are not LGBT establishments that I am aware of. Those bars, clubs, and restaurants stopped selling and ordering Russian alcoholic beverages some time ago. One Russian-American Jewish, friend of mine in particular is suffering, he loved his Stoli, and misses it….

  14. jomicur says:

    I just came across this on YouTube. It’s from what seems to be the Russian equivalent of The People’s Court. A young man who cross-dresses is suing his father, who physically assaulted him and destroyed his female clothing. The young guy denies he’s gay and claims he cross-dresses because he’s a performer in a show. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here The verdict surprised me. There’s no indication when this show was recorded; it may well date from before the passage of the horrible law.

  15. cole3244 says:

    me too.

  16. Funny thing is, I’ve had the same insanely friendly experiences in NYC that I’ve had in Paris. Either I’m lucky, or the midwestern things rub them the right way ;)

  17. Oh, and the French (well, the Parisians at least), have had a love affair with mojitos for several years now. BIG summer drink at the bars.

  18. Mock not the strawberry mojito. Mojitos are surprisingly good with crushed fruit.

  19. discus_sucks_ass says:

    same here, Paris is lovely, and seriously, the food! As you say, don’t SHOUT to try to make them understand English, don;t treat them as dirt and you will have a good time.

  20. It’s more nuanced over here. I’d say 25% of the French LOVE us. There’s a portion that doesn’t love us, but it’s not huge. And there’s a large middle group that’s agnostic. But I’ve had more and more experiences of late, over the past 12 years, of just meeting the nicest french people at random. I still have to write about my visit to the boulangerie (baker) a few weeks ago, and about Julien the baker who decided out of nowhere to give me a tour of the place, then took me downstairs and demonstrated making a specific Breton dessert for me, let me film the entire thing, THEN gave me a free dessert on the way it. That thing NEVER happens here. But it seems to be happening to be more and more. Paris is a funny city. It can be cold in a big city way, but sometimes if you scratch its back just right, you can make it purr :)

  21. karmanot says:

    I’d rather deal with a rude New Yorker any day than a polite Southerner with a hidden agenda.

  22. karmanot says:


  23. karmanot says:

    Never once in my journeys to France or Paris did I ever experience rudeness, but then I spoke in a normal tone, greeted shop owners and staff with a “hello, good day”, dressed appropriately and never, ever shouted “garcon” at the top of my lungs and pantomimed for a coffee with milk like some version of mime gone mad.

  24. karmanot says:

    I doubt most here like to ridicule them, perhaps it’s self deference. After all, America is the most ridiculed clown on the world stage. At least the French have an advanced culture. About all America has is poetry, Broadway and Jazz. I agree with that last sentence, our pitiful level of culture can most probably be attributed to the mediocre bourgeois banality of the English influence.

  25. karmanot says:

    For two mangle z English much? Allah, yet another viscous Mr. sky god fantasy. Tuck that under your improvements veil sweet pea.

  26. karmanot says:


  27. karmanot says:

    Viva la France!

  28. Indigo says:

    French social behavior is based on mirroring. Pleasant behavior elicits pleasant behavior, rude behavior elicits rude behavior. Loud behavior gets ignored. It’s very straight forward.

  29. woodroad34 says:

    About six years ago, the City of Beverly Hills put Farsi on the ballots so that the large number of PersianJews living here would become engaged in the political process. You couldn’t imagine the outpouring of hate from Eastern European and Israeli Jews in Beverly Hills to this simple act….The Persians weren’t muslim, they were jewish–but the perception wasn’t that at all.

  30. Indigo says:


  31. judybrowni says:

    From Russian grain, by a Russian based company, with most of it’s employees in Russia.

    By a Russian company that stressed in all it’s pr — until a couple weeks ago — that it and its products, were Russian, Russian, Russian.

    You’ll have to troll harder.

  32. woodroad34 says:

    Interesting, considering the strong political ties Russia and France seem to have.

  33. Tom J says:

    That’s great, and no doubt there are many more bars in France doing the same thing. I haven’t noticed, but maybe some of you may have, any other countries doing similar vodka boycotts?

  34. Naja pallida says:

    Pernod… avec de l’eau et de glace.

  35. BeccaM says:

    Small world indeed!

  36. BeccaM says:

    Yes, there’s something unholy about adding strawberries to a perfectly good Mojito.

  37. Naja pallida says:

    If you are incapable of thinking for yourself and need a nearly thousand year old book to tell you what is right and what is wrong, what the book says isn’t the problem. Yes, we can blame them.

  38. kassielam47lm says:

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kAgk

    French was voted the rudest and most xenophobic country in western Europe. There’s truth to it, but Paris is the worst out of all of France. They even just passed some sort of ordinance asking citizens to be nice to tourists.

  39. French was voted the rudest and most xenophobic country in western Europe. There’s truth to it, but Paris is the worst out of all of France. They even just passed some sort of ordinance asking citizens to be nice to tourists.

    Edit: it’s an ad campaign not an ordinance:

  40. In my experience the French pretend to hate everything Americans do and then do it later and pretend it’s no big deal. Typical! I love them for their snootiness!

  41. Loh Phat says:

    Isn’t Stoli made in Latvia?

  42. Sunarty Galama says:

    We as a Muslim can’t blame Al-qaeda and terrorism to do bombing, killing
    people, because they are just trying to follow the command of the Qur’an which
    says: “slay the infidels wherever they are, including the friends with infidels
    “. so to eliminate any al-qaedah and Terrorism, the Qur’an should be fixed

    The leader of the Arab leaders also cannot be blamed for People lying in the
    Qur’an allow to lie and betray other people who became Arab guidelines: “when
    you see something better then that, and forget the Covenant that we agree upon
    or which you have promised to other people even if you swear in the name of
    Allah, then Allah is good will forget that your vows”, so the Qur’an
    teaches us to be lying ,

    a number of countries reject islam came to their country because they fear
    Muslims will impose these verses of the Qur’an in their country

    There are millions of Muslims leaving Islam because this verses, they regard
    the Qur’aan is not true, so is there should modifications and improvements to
    the Quran in order to be accepted by all?

  43. cole3244 says:

    all people are rude to some degree, those one likes we give a pass those one dislikes we pile on and exaggerate.
    that goes for people in our own country we dislike, new yorkers are rude and southerners are charming as the story goes.

  44. fletcher says:

    The myth that the French are rude comes from the fact that American tourists expect them to speak English instead of French and most of them speak only French. And both France and parts of the U.S. and Canada have language laws. In France, they tried to outlaw words and terms (like Drug Store) that originated in America and crept into usage in France. In Canada a law requires phones in Quebec businesses to be answered in both French and English. And some states in the U.S. outlaw public documents in languages other than English. In the U.S., you can be yelled at for speaking or reading a language other than English. Having taken two years of Spanish in high school, I once picked up a Spanish newspaper on a bus and began reading the comic strips. Some woman yelled at me that they “speak English here” and I should go back to where I came from. So I told her in English I’d make a deal so we’d both go back where we came from, me to my residence four stops down the line and her to under that rock where she came from. I hope she learned a lesson about being rude and insulting.

  45. fletcher says:

    As right they should. If you do something to offend me, why should I sell and/or buy your product. And the boycott is affecting many more restaurants and bars beyond the gay community. In Chicago, I attended a cocktail party at a north of the Loop place and they had a sign stating that their cocktails now contained Belvedere vodka from Poland instead of the Russian brand they used to carry.

  46. Drew2u says:

    Common stereotype that the French are rude to Americans / American tourists?
    Then again, New Yorkers/Jerseyites are just generally rude?

  47. Indigo says:

    Good for them but . . . strawberry mojito?

  48. cole3244 says:

    i love the french and never understood the reason most here in the us like to ridicule them, maybe its because they speak a different language.
    i wish we had emulated them rather than the english but that boat has already sailed.

  49. StraightGrandmother says:


    United we Stand, we stand together.

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