Smirnoff is named after company founder Pierre Smirnoff, who began distilling and bottling vodka in Moscow in 1818.
In 1886, Czar Alexander II awarded the House of Smirnoff the honor of purveyor to the court, an honor the company held through the reign of Nicholas II, who was killed in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
When the Bolsheviks confiscated all private industry, they seized all neutral grain spirits and demineralized and filtered water, and jailed Vladimir Smirnoff, then head of the House of Smirnoff and sentenced him to death. In 1918, Smirnoff escaped to France and opened new plants in Constantinople, Poland, and Paris.
In 1933, fellow Russian refugee Rudolf Kunett, whose family had provided Vladimir Smirnoff with an alcohol by-product from the beet sugar manufacturing process, obtained the exclusive rights to sell Smirnoff in North America—just in time for the repeal of Prohibition later that year.
Today, Smirnoff Vodka is distilled according to the same exacting standards of quality established by company founder Pierre Smirnoff.
Smirnoff Vodka has been James Bond’s choice of vodka for his “shaken and not stirred” vodka martini for eighteen movies, starting with Dr. No.
Legend holds that the Screwdriver—a mixture of vodka and orange juice—was invented by an American engineer in the Middle East, who stirred the concoction with screwdrivers.
In the 1920s, Fernand Petiot, an American working at Harry’s Bar in Paris, created the Bloody Mary (originally called “The Bucket of Blood”) by mixing vodka with tomato juice and adding a stalk of celery. Tabasco pepper sauce was added to the recipe in the 1930s at the King Cole Bar in New York’s St. Regis Hotel.
Vodka—made from barley, corn, rye, or potatoes—varies from 80 to 100 proof and is not aged. The alcoholic beverage is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.
Ads for Smirnoff Vodka have featured Benny Goodman, Tony Randall, Robert Goulet, Groucho and Harpo Marx, Sid Caesar, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Johnny Carson.
Smirnoff is the most popular spirit in the United States.