Arthur Dozortsev Reflects on a Lifetime in the Alcohol Biz
To the thousands who have laughed and smiled with him, Arthur Dozortsev is Arty. He sells booze and is one of those thousands of people who make a living off the nightlife industry even though they don’t actually work at a club, bar, or restaurant. When the city or state changes a law a little, or a joint gets closed or isn’t allowed to open, there is a ripple effect to our local economy. Arty is on that second ripple. He rolls deep, showing up at clubs with herds of models and players. He’s the kind of guy that smiles even when he is mad or hurt. When he was throwing big soirees back in his Kremly vodka days, they were packed with all the right sorts. I had coffee with my friend at Prince Street Catering, and asked him what he’s up to.
You have been around quite a while, but burst onto the scene hard with your product Kremly Vodka. Tell me about that experience. I have been in New York for over 35 years, and yes, Kremly Vodka was an amazing experience. I was basically doing marketing, sales, PR, product placement, you name it. It was great because I met the best people from all over the world. I was working with every hot club and restaurant in New York, Florida, California and a lot of places all around the world, so that gave me the ability to be around really great people from all industries.
Is it hard to launch a vodka? It is always hard to launch a liquor brand. Back in the day, when we launched, we really didn’t have as much premium vodkas as today, but it was an uphill battle from the start. It was a lot of tastings, a lot of events, a lot of word of mouth, a lot of hard work. It was very difficult for us, because we were a private company with limited resources going against giants like Absolut and Stoli, but we made a stand in the industry.
You were born in the Ukraine. Tell me about your transition to the “American” way of life. Yes, I was born in the Ukraine, but I dont remember much cause my family left when I was 2. It was very difficult for my family. My dad didn’t speak English and had no money. But working hard in the country and being honest and loyal, my dad became very successful in the food and caviar business, which led us to get into the liquor business, so I guess as far as I can remember, I was more of an American then a Ukrainian .
Tell me about Forever Young. Forever Young is a joint venture between my good friend Seth Greenberg and my company, in creating a new line of wines called Forever Young. Both Seth and I have a great infrastructure, and we both decided it would be a great idea to launch a great line of wines with a fun approach behind it .
You sell product to some of the hottest places in NY. Name some of them and tell me what you are selling. We work with places like Tao, Sparks Steak House, Rue 57, Serafina, Casa la Femme, 1Oak, Juliet, Provocateur, STK, Dos Caminos, Mari Vanna and many more. Most of these places carry our wines by the glass, which we import mainly from Spain, Chile, Italy, Argentina and Germany. As far as the products they are mostly the common wines people drink.
The SLA has banned a great deal of the promotional money distributors and liquor companies used to be able to give for events. Tell me about the laws for this, and how it affects you. The SLA is always trying to enforce tougher laws which in a way I think is sometimes good. It keeps the industry honest, or at least tries to. We are not really affected by it because we really don’t give away promotional money. As importers and distributors in NY, we are able to offer the best prices in town, so I guess that’s our niche in the business, great wines at great prices
Is the climate for business in NYC getting better or worse? The climate for us as a company is great and very upbeat. There are over ten thousand liquor licenses in the city and we only work with 10 percent of them, so we have a very big opportunity to grow. Personally, I think the climate is a bit stale. Being in the city for so long and going through some of the best times the city has been through, I feel we need to step it up a bit.
Where do you hang these days? 1Oak is great, and Provocateur is a lot of fun but, but there is nothing to compare to the days of Tunnel, Limelight, Mars, or even some as early as Life on Tuesdays. I guess I am spoiled. My favorite place right now is Provocateur in the Gansevoort Hotel. Other wise I am at 1Oak, Juliet, Soho House during the day, and I love this new restaurant BES in Chelsea , amazing food. And u can always catch me at Ciprianis.