Thanks to Russian Size, Orange County is now home to one of the highest quality Russian brands of vodka. Owned and operated in Irvine by OC resident Yana Gavrilov and her father, Robert Gavrilov, Russian Size is slowly conquering the American vodka market, starting regionally in the Orange County area, but with hopes of reaching a national level.
Gavrilov, 26, originally was not in this line of work, but it just sort of developed organically.“I actually come from the beauty industry,” she said. “I used to manage salons and spas for the past eight years but I have given that up to learn more about the liquor industry.”
When her father told her he wanted her to be his right hand in building a company, Gavrilov was excited but reluctant due to her job managing salons and spas. “I realized that one day, being the oldest child, I could take over the vodka business,” She said. “I then realized that I couldn’t possibly give one hundred percent to both industries. I’ve aspired in owning my own business one day, and this was my opportunity. Though I have marketing experience, I now had to learn about the liquor industry, rules, and regulations, branding, etc. Come to find out, I love it!”
Gavrilov and her father have been in operations in Irvine for just over a year. “We don’t have our own distillery,” she said. “We import Russian Size from Vilnius Degtine, a distillery in Vilnius, Lithuania. Gavrilov said the process of bringing Russian Size Vodka has been ongoing and taken about two years so far. “Russian Size Vodka has been passed down to my father and me by the trusting hands of Russian Size Vodka,” she said.
“The goal has always been to bring the USA a top-shelf tasting vodka for the price of only $20.00/L bottle. We believe that vodka should be drunk straight and smooth, which is why we have worked so hard to bring a smooth and minimal burning vodka to this country,” she said.
But, with most other high-quality vodkas charging way more, $20 seems too good to be true. “The reason we have decided to make $20.00 our price point is because we want to give a quality vodka for an affordable price,” Gavrilov said. “This is so that everyone can enjoy a top tier vodka, and not have to break the bank to do so. Russian Size differs from the rest because we take time and pride into our liquor. It is not just another vodka, but rather a drink whose unparalleled quality is based on advanced production techniques perfected over time.”
With so many brands of the alcohol available, there’s a history behind Gavrilov’s spirit. “Russian Size Vodka has been the leader in Vodka sales in Russia for fifteen years,” she said. “Years before that, and prior to this, the vodka had a different name, but unfortunately, the original name the vodka was born within the 80s in Soviet Russia, and is impossible to translate into English. It was considered the best vodka on the shelf, by far. It was only drunk by government officials and the privileged society; sold in high-end stores that only allowed those in with the proper authority or badge.”
Gavrilov said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s, the brand of vodka disappeared, till 2002 when it re-emerged with a new name Russia Size Vodka.
In terms of what goes into making this alcohol a higher quality, Gavrilov revealed a few of the brand’s recipes and processes that go into making the vodka. “The water that goes into our vodka is one of a kind, it has been confirmed to have a stable mineral composition,” she said. “Plus, we infuse the vodka with cucumber giving it a noticeably smooth taste which doesn’t burn as much going down like most vodka.” The vodka is made in Russia and imported from Lithuania.
“Growing up in a Russian family, [vodka] is kind of a given,” Gavrilov said. “I still enjoy beer and a glass of wine on occasions as well, but vodka has always been my go to. Because her father, Robert, grew up in Soviet Russia and she’s a California girl, she didn’t always see eye to eye with her father. “My father and I see life very differently, and weren’t very close,” she said. “But Russian Size brought us closer because we had to actually work together and think together, and create together. Then I noticed how much we really had in common.” Gavrilov Sr. is the owner of YCJ Products Distribution Inc, a distribution company that he started a few years prior to importing Russian Size Vodka. Russian Size is just one of the many products the company distributes, Gavrilov explained. “He handles all the sales, distribution and deliveries, and I handle all the marketing and PR for our company.”
For just two people, the vodka has been doing well in the past couple of years since coming onto the market, mostly in Orange County. Russian Size Vodka won Gold in the LA International Spirits Competition in 2016. “ Our vodka was also listed in the Russian Forbes Top 50 in 2006 & 2007,” Gavrilov said. “I wish I could elaborate on the event, but I cannot because it was a closed-door competition. We submitted our vodka and after some time, received the results, but there was no actual interaction with the judges.”
Further, to attract a wider audience, and further promote the spirit, Russian Size Vodka is planning on future nightlife events in Orange County. “We are working with Time Night Club in Costa Mesa to bring Orange County a never before experienced event, with Russian Size Vodka. Follow @russiansizevodka on Instagram for future announcements.”
For those over 21, who can’t wait to try Russian Size Vodka, the alcohol can be found at the following establishments in Orange County: Malarky’s Irish Pub, Five Crowns Restaurant, and Blue Water Grill (all in Newport Beach). It can also be found at Qwik Corner Liquor in Costa Mesa, Inces Beach Market, and G&M Liquor in Huntington Beach, Vendome Wine & Spirit in Fullerton, Five Stare liquorWestminster and Hi-Time in Costa Mesa.
For more information, please visit www.russiansizeusa.com
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.