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Cocktail bar group Nightcap replaces Russian vodka with Ukrainian spirit

The Escapologist bar, part of the Nightcap group (Nightcap Group)
The Escapologist bar, part of the Nightcap group (Nightcap Group)

Ex-Dragons’ Den investor Sarah Willingham’s cocktail bar group Nightcap is axing sales of Russian vodka to customers, replacing the supply with a Ukrainian brand of vodka across its 27 venues.

Nightcap, which owns The Adventure Bar Group, Barrio Familia and The Cocktail Club brands, said the decision was made by “the board, management team and entire staff within Nightcap.”

The company will use Ukrainian vodka Nemiroff in a new blue-tinted cocktail, called “Lyubov,” the Ukrainian word for ‘love’, Profits from the drinks are to be donated to the Disaster Emergency Committee.

In an Instagram post, the company said: “At Nightcap Plc, we stand with Ukraine during these horrible times and raise our glasses and salute the brave men and women protecting their loved ones.”

The bar chain is the latest in a string of retail and hospitality companies cutting ties with Russian suppliers in protest at the Kremlin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

Last week, cocktail bar chain Revolution Bars said it was reviewing the supply of its Russian vodka, while supermarket group Sainsbury’s announced it was dropping Russian goods from its shelves and changing the name of its own-brand Chicken Kiev to Chicken Kyiv, reflecting the Ukrainian spelling of the city.

Sarah Willingham runs Nightcap with her husband Michael Toxvaerd. The pair have a combined 26% stake in the company, worth £7.8 million. TV chef Raymond Blanc also has a £1 million shareholding in the business.

Co-founder Willingham became a ‘Dragon’ on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den show in March 2015. She rose to prominence as the owner of popular Indian restaurant chain Bombay Bicycle Club.

Nightcap is eyeing an aggressive expansion in 2022, with 24 premises under offer or in legal negotiations, and the announcement of two new bars set to open in Cardiff in April and May. The company raised £4 million in an initial public offering in January 2021 and a further £10 million in May.