In Kentucky sales rocketed as the distributor started marketing Smirnoff as 'white whiskey, no taste, no smell'. After the war, John Martin was sitting in a bar with a friend and a girlfriend. The girlfriend owned a ginger beer brand which wasn't selling and the friend had a stock of copper mugs which he also couldn't sell. They mixed Smirnoff with the ginger beer in a copper mug, added lime and the Moscow Mule was born.
In 1990, the Berlin Wall came down and Helmut Kohl did a deal with Gorbachev allowing the reunification of Germany provided the Soviet army could remain in East Germany and be paid by West Germany for three years. Suddenly 500,000 Soviet soldiers were paid in hard currency and had almost nothing to do except drink. They then proceeded to spend their currency on Marlboro cigarettes, Levi jeans and Smirnoff vodka.
The US-made variety of Smirnoff vodka was especially popular. The London office of Heublein was inundated with orders and the Vice President, Jeremy Collis, set about exploiting this 'gusher' to the fullest extent possible. Huge in store Smirnoff displays were set up in the Russian army stores and the officers' messes were renamed Smirnoff Clubs. Individual messes started serving in excess of 200 litres a night of Smirnoff. The Soviet forces became the biggest market in Europe for Smirnoff outside the UK. Smirnoff was shipped to Germany at the rate of 20,000 bottles a day. Moskowskaya and Stolichnaya's market share in Germany dropped from 100% to almost nothing.
A line of 17 flavored vodkas with the "Twist" moniker appended on the end of the name have also been introduced. Flavors include Green Apple, Orange, Cranberry, Raspberry, Citrus (Lemon), Vanilla, Strawberry, Black Cherry, Watermelon, Lime, Blueberry, White Grape, Melon (Honeydew/Cantaloupe), Pomegranate, Passion Fruit, Pear, and most recently, Pineapple.
Smirnoff No. 21
Smirnoff No. 57
Smirnoff Black Ice
Smirnoff Black Cherry
Smirnoff Green Apple
Pyotr Smirnov founded his vodka distillery in Moscow in the 1860s under the trading name of PA Smirnoff, pioneering charcoal filtration in the 1870s, and becoming the first to utilize newspaper ads along with charitable contributions to the clergy to stifle anti-vodka sermons, capturing two-thirds of the Moscow market by 1886. His brand was reportedly the tsar's favorite. When he died, he was succeeded by his third son Vladimir Smirnov (? - 1939).
The company flourished and produced more than 4 million cases of vodka per year. In 1904 the Tsar nationalised the Russian vodka industry and Vladimir Smirnoff was forced to sell his factory and brand. During the October Revolution, of 1917 the Smirnoff family had to flee. Vladimir Smirnov re-established the factory in 1920 in Istanbul. Four years later he moved to Lwów (formerly Poland, now Lviv, Ukraine) and started to sell the vodka under the contemporary French spelling of the name, "Smirnoff". The new product was a success and by the end of 1930 it was exported to most European countries. An additional distillery was founded in Paris in 1925.
In the 1930s Vladimir met Rudolph Kunett, a Russian who had emigrated to America in 1920. The Kunett family had been a supplier of spirits to Smirnoff in Moscow before the Revolution. In 1933 Vladimir sold Kunett the right to begin producing Smirnoff vodka in North America. However, the business in America was not as successful as Kunett had hoped. In 1938 Kunett couldn't afford to pay for the necessary sales licenses, and contacted John Martin, president of Heublein, who agreed to buy the rights to Smirnoff for the value of the distilling equipment. His Board thought he was mad. Sales were very slow until one day they ran out of corks and had to use whiskey corks instead.