We’ve said it before, and we will say it again. Our pride is not for sale. In a world of brands capitalizing on our prideful hearts, there is one vodka company that is championing the LGBTQ+ cause.
Let’s be real for just a moment. Our community (you know, the divas) has some coins. Some major coins actually, and we love to spend those coins.
We’ll go out on a limb and say that out of all the consumer demographics we likely have the most disposable income. For the most part, we don’t have kids to send to college (however, that is quickly changing, and we are living for it), and many times we are over-achievers with high-bracket incomes. And we put those pretty paychecks to good use. Parties. Brunches – with drag queens, of course. Travel. And yes, cocktails.
Perhaps in the occasional stripper’s G-string. But I digress.
You know who knows we have coins? Major brands. It never fails that in the months leading up to the Pride celebrations in June, every major beer and spirit company seems to slap the rainbow flag around their bottle and expects us to jump for joy at their willingness to “support” our communities and “embrace” our causes.
But where are these companies so eager to take our coins the other 11 months out of the year? Are they donating to our causes and sponsoring our events throughout the year? Are they giving back any of those millions of dollars that they are making off of our patronage?
The short answer is no.
So, we embarked on a journey to find a liquor brand that celebrates the gays year-round and puts their money where their mouth is. That journey took us all the way to Texas. Yes, the Lone Star State. (We know…we’re still gagging.)
Enter Kruto Vodka. A small, but growing vodka company based in the liberal island that is Dallas, Texas. While the company calls Dallas home, the vodka is produced in Ukraine. Attribute to a 300-year-old Cossack recipe, the vodka is sourced from summer wheat and the purest aquifer water found 2,600 feet below the ground. This vodka takes smooth to a whole different level. Trust us. We did the legwork and went through about half a case.
So what makes Kruto so special? To begin, it would be difficult to find a vodka more pure on the planet. Their Original (or red bottle) vodka is distilled 9 times. That’s about twice the number of times that the ever-popular Tito’s is distilled. Line the two up and take a shot of each. You will immediately taste – and feel – the difference.
It gets better. Flawless by Kruto Vodka (also known as the blue bottle) is distilled a whopping 15 times! We asked around, and Flawless is nicknamed by local patrons as the “hangover-less vodka” for its purity. In fact, the company’s tagline is Kruto Makes It Smoother. Seriously, with a name like Flawless, this vodka was made for us.
We envision a marketing campaign entitled, Making America Smooth Again. (Insert side eye to a particular someone in Washington, D.C.)
But what everyone should know, and what we found most compelling, is Kruto’s steadfast support and love for the gay community. The further we dug for this story, the more authentic appreciation we found. It isn’t forced gratitude, nor a front. They really do care.
We caught up with Neha Kapadia, President of Sales for Kruto Vodka, to inquire about their interest in our community and what drives the brand to be so supportive.
“They were there for us in the beginning,” said Kapadia. “When we first launched Kruto, it was the gay bars that were among the first willing to give us a chance.” It is hard not to be drawn into her warm and inviting demeanor. She speaks with a certain sense of gratitude that is captured instantly.
She explains that vodka sales are incredibly competitive and that it is difficult for new vodka brands to enter the marketplace. “We are a Texas-based brand and we were well aware of the challenges that we faced.” And like a drag queen first entering the scene, Kruto buckled down and moved forward with conviction.
“Ours was a mission to create and share the smoothest vodka on the globe,” Kapadia explains. “Our friends across LGBT communities immediately appreciated the smoothness of our vodkas and became some of our very first ambassadors to the brand.”
And Kruto Vodka responded in kind.
“The bigger our company grew, the more we could give back,” she says. “Roman was resolved that we would never forget the communities that were there for us in the beginning.” A Dallas resident and entrepreneur, Roman Talis is the founder and CEO of Kruto Vodka.
So how exactly have they shown their love?
Even a quick glance at Kruto’s social media will confirm that they aren’t in the closet about their support of LGBT communities.
First and foremost, their pride is visible. From rainbow-colored Instagram stories celebrating at the gay bars, to dedicated “Love is Love” messaging campaigns, Kruto’s commitment & dedication is unwavering.
We scoured through pages and pages of social media posts and articles – both their own and from organizations with whom they have partnered – and what is clear is that the brand is passionate about us. Our values. Our struggles. Our community members.
Even their PR firm is LGBT-owned.
“Simply put, they are the real deal,” said Waylon Tate, Principal & CEO of J. Waylon & Associates, the Dallas-based PR firm that represents the vodka brand. “We’ve represented Kruto Vodka for nearly three years, and I’ve never once questioned their love for the gay community. They consistently ask us to find more ways to give back – more ways to be involved.”
And involved they are.
On any given Monday in Dallas, you can find Sassy O’Hara, a local drag performer at The Round-Up Saloon & Dance Hall, belting her epic monologue for Kruto Vodka, who sponsors Project Funday– a fashion game show where audience members dress up manikins for the chance to win a cash prize.
Kruto also sponsors Round-Up’s Boys! Boots! Boxer Briefs! challenge – an amateur strip contest where local hotties compete for some coins of their own. Count us in.
Kapadia says Round-Up was the first gay bar to carry Kruto Vodka. “We asked, and they didn’t hesitate to give us a chance. They’ve been an incredible partner and will always have a special place in our heart.”
I think most would agree that gay communities are a tight group, and once word gets out that a company supports us, we like to return the favor. As Kruto’s presence grew in the Dallas gay community, the vodka brand eventually made its way into Station 4 & The Rose Room, The Mining Company, JR’s Bar & Grill and Sue Ellens – all gay hot-spots located in the Cedar Springs gay district.
But it didn’t stop there.
Requests for Kruto began to flood in from gay clubs in other metropolitan areas including Austin and Houston. The vodka is being celebrated at a number of gay bars throughout Texas, among them at Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon in Houston, and Rain on 4th in Austin.
And sometimes Kruto makes a splash. The Texas heat is no joke, and throughout the summer months, the queens of Dallas look for every opportunity to get wet. Texas Latino Pride, a Dallas organization that focuses on connecting communities through culture, food and music, hosts an annual pool party to raise money for LGBT & Latino non-profits. When asked, Kruto stepped up to the diving board, with cases of vodka, beach balls, and LGBT-branded wristbands is hand.
But even outside of the elaborate festivities, Kruto stays involved. AIN’s Blooming Ball and Prism North Texas’ annual Life Walk | Dallas AIDS Walk are two charities where the vodka brand regularly contributes to helping the organizations raise crucial funds for their operations.
The spirit brand appears to have fun while participating in the charity events by creating signature cocktails with sassy names. Our favorite happens to be the Ice Queen – a tantalizing mixture of lemon juice, fresh ginger and basil, blended with simple syrup. See more amazing concoctions here.
Kruto’s journey has even led them to some indirect gay fame.
LeeAnne Locken, the breakout star from the Real Housewives of Dallas and local gay icon (last year she was in the running to be a Grand Marshall for Dallas’ gay pride), has taken an affinity to the brand and hasn’t been quiet about it. While filming for the show this past spring, Locken – from the mic – was eager to share with the audience that Kruto was her favorite (and only) vodka.
Who doesn’t love a celebrity, especially when that celebrity is a beacon for the gay community? Rumor has it that you will catch Kruto Vodka in the upcoming third season of the Bravo franchise airing now. Stay tuned.
Perhaps our favorite discovery was Kruto’s sponsorship not of an organization or non-profit with attachment to the gay community, but directly to a member of our community.
Mario Gallegos is a creative genius and celebrated fashion designer in Dallas. He also happens to be gay. When launching his collection a couple of years ago, he was looking for some support to deliver a spectacular show. Without hesitation, Kruto stepped up to the plate and created signature drinks for the show and hired a film crew to capture the entire experience. Check it out below.
While the brand is currently only available in Texas, they have plans to expand to other states in the next year. California? Let’s hope. New York? We are assuming. We are hoping for Florida so that we can celebrate them during The White Party on South Beach, and perhaps Louisiana for NOLA’s Southern Decadence.
All-in-all, they’ve got our backs. They support our causes and share in our celebrations. If Kruto can support us – on an individual level – then we can certainly support them. If you happen to live in Texas, you can find a retail location near you here. The next time that you are in your local bar, ask for them. When you are stopping into your favorite liquor store to stock up for the weekend – ask for them. Let’s make a commitment to return the love.