From Zamir: a new local spirit

Mike Shatzel, owner of Thin Man on Elmwood, and Zamier Gotta, vodka maker



In Russia he was an English teacher. In Connecticut, he’s a filmmaker. And now, in Western New York, Zamir Gotta is a vodka maker. Gotta first visited Buffalo as part of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations team for a 2009 Rust Belt edition of the show. He was invited back in 2012 for a special IN event hosted by Mike Andrjewski, Rocco Termini, and former Spree editor Christa Glennie Seychew. Gotta had been a fixer and sidekick for Bourdain during No Reservation’s run; he’s also made documentaries—one featuring young Chechen amputee soccer players who have overcome injuries from land mines. 


Gotta was holding court at Thin Man on Elmwood (where he was joined by owner Mike Shatzel), when we caught up with him. At that point, his vodka was still in the process of being bottled and was not yet available; it has since been released. The spirit is produced at Honeoye Falls Distillery, just south of Rochester. As Gotta explains, “For me a good vodka should not be tasteless. There should be a minerality, a finish.” The vodka is distilled using local winter wheat and spring water, undergoes multiple filtrations, and is hand bottled. Gotta plans to use the vodka as part of a goodwill ambassadorship and hopes that the proceeds will benefit worldwide charities. It’s all part of a philosophy based on his name—Zamir means “for peace.”


Now that he has established himself—at least part-time—in Buffalo, Gotta plans a series of events introducing his vodka to the local community. Join him for a vodka tasting at 7:30 p.m., November 15 at Raclette’s, 537 Main Street. Check the website at for future appearances, where to find the vodka, and more information.       



Elizabeth Licata is editor of Spree.


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