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From Russia with Buffalove

Iazamir “Zamir” Gotta is a Russian producer & broadcaster, a traveling companion to one of our most outspoken celebrity chefs, and now a spirits entrepreneur with a peaceful mission.  Hearing the name “Zamir Gotta” typically makes one think of Anthony Bourdain, as Zamir has been a trusty companion to the superstar chef on many of his CNN journeys. The dynamic duo of food & travel have been all over Russia, Uzbekistan, and Romania. They hit the US together exploring the Rust Belt area a few years back, and Zamir has been smitten with Buffalove ever since.

Zamir-Buffalo-NY-3I had the pleasure of spending some time with Zamir over a few days during his latest visit to our fair city. This time he was not here for a tour guide tv show, but instead a whirlwind adventure sharing what peacemaking vodka is all about!

To say Zamir is a dynamic character would be an understatement. Zamir, whose very name translates to “I am for peace” is a non-stop, charismatic, peacemaker who is on a mission to make the BEST Russian recipe vodka and use it to promote peace around the world. How about that for a mission statement? I’m in!

Lucky for us, he has chosen this area to perfect the recipe and distill his vodka, lovingly named “Zamir”. With the help of a Finger Lakes wheat farmer and his Russian wife, a spiritual advisor (aka distilling expert) from Rochester, and Kickstarter, Zamir Vodka could very well be the next beloved spirit of Russian descent.

Zamir Gotta has traveled to many lands and made documentary films with the general hope that he will make a peaceful difference in the world. His next venture is to perfect a Russian recipe vodka in the US and create a successful brand to continue the promotion of peace. Zamir has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the necessary funds to begin production this spring.

He explained to me that sitting with a stranger and a glass of vodka is a great ice breaker to begin a conversation. It is his vision to create a culture of peaceful communication through the simple art of sipping vodka. Frankly, I couldn’t agree more. Comrades get sipping!

I asked Zamir to elaborate on his project. I asked what his favorite vodka is? What components make it truly Russian? What inspires his Finger Lakes recipe? Zamir said Stolichnaya is his favorite vodka imported by the U.S. I also share this sentiment, which gave me a standard before tasting his recipe.

Russian vodka is composed of wheat, rye, and high quality water containing a certain level of minerals. Zamir is working with his “spiritual advisor,” Christopher Carlsson, who runs the internationally known site in Rochester.


Carlsson has played an integral role in assisting Zamir with perfecting the Russian recipe in the western New York region. He helped find the distillery, the grain, the water, and the talent to create it. It is important to Zamir that the organic ingredients be the best quality, and the process is distilled several times per the Russian method. The water has been a challenge for him to find the perfect source but they are close. It is purified five or six times, according to his recipe and they are still tweaking the water’s mineral components. They are confident it will all come together for the full scale production to begin.

Zamir-Buffalo-NY-1While in Buffalo last week, several local venues hosted Zamir Vodka tastings. I joined the one at Black Iron Bystro and got to taste the goods personally. The vodka is still in the perfecting stages but I must say, it is truly delicious. I am not a professional spirits taster but I do drink vodka, almost exclusively, so I feel I can speak on the quality of Zamir Vodka. Zamir prefers vodka with a slice of lemon, as do I, so I followed his recommendation. There is a sweetness from the wheat at first sip, followed by a creamy finish with no overwhelming burn or bite to it. The quality ingredients and careful process are very prevalent in Zamir Vodka.

I do hope to see this Russian recipe vodka, produced in Western NY, on all bar & liquor store shelves nationwide. I also look forward to sipping & chatting more with Zamir, the man. There’s a rumor he may move to Buffalo permanently when production begins. What an awesome addition to our community he and his peacemaking beverage would be. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, all of this can be a reality soon.

If you’re a fan of the idea of this type of locally distilled vodka, being repped by a jovial celebrity such as Zamir (who will then plant roots in Buffalo), you should consider chipping in a few bucks to the crowdfunding campaign. There are all sorts of great rewards and benefits for those who donate, but none of them outweigh the opportunity to bring this brand to Buffalo.




Written by Kristine Hornung-Pottle

Kristine Hornung-Pottle

Kristine Hornung Pottle relocated back to Buffalo from Seattle, where she owned and operated The Wandering Cafe, LLC for twelve years (a catering and events company she began in Buffalo twenty-five years ago). She is currently the COO for Buffalo's echo Art Fair. As an experienced chef and independent event coordinator, Kristine contributes to Buffalo Rising occasionally.

View All Articles by Kristine Hornung-Pottle
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