Refugee turned “one-man vodka band” Pleurat Shabani shares a message of positivity (and a reminder that we’ll all be having a martini or three together again soon)
Having escaped the civil war in Croatia, Kosovo born Pleurat Shabani headed to London in 1994. He, unlike Dick Whittington, did not find streets paved with gold but ended up working as a lavatory cleaner and kitchen porter.
Later, forced onto the streets after losing his job at Soho House, Shabani “hit rock bottom” but did not give up. He found a job as a glass washer at Oliver Peyton’s Atlantic Bar & Grill – which ironically was later ‘sunk’ by Marco Pierre White’s Titanic restaurant – and after being promoted to a role as a bartender, began a journey that ultimately resulted in the creation of his own vodka, Konik’s Tail.
Shabini, without the big money backing most spirits brands garnered in the early-to-mid 2000s, is a surprising success story. We reported on it back in 2014 and in spite of his shoestring budget – and the fact he literally had to glue his own footwear together (he considers them “ part of his journey”) – Konik’s Tail is now stocked in everywhere from Dukes Hotel to Waitrose.
Now, at this time of lockdown, the notoriously shy luddite Shabani has taken to social media and on Instagram, a place he’s only posted once before, shared a message of positivity that we should all heed. It follows in full below:
“First of all, I hope this finds you well in these increasingly challenging times of disruption and enormous changes to the daily lives of all of us. Together, we have learnt that passion, optimism and community will help us all come out stronger.”
“The pride of who we are as a community is not part of our past, it defines our present and our future. You have inspired me. Your presence has inspired me. Your friendship has inspired me. And, your stories have inspired me.”
“Together we will succeed and that success will belong to everyone of us. Better days will return. Stools behind the bar might be empty, no late nights, no last calls, but this – you are not forgotten. Our hearts are full of love until we are reunited again. I know we will be with our friends again, with our families again and I know we will share a Konik’s Tail martini again.”
“Spread the love and positive energy, help a friend, even a stranger. Until we meet again, be well, be safe and love each other. My warmest wishes to you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Konik’s Tail Vodka is available from Waitrose for £38 for a 70cl bottle. Thankfully they can still deliver it – so have your chilled martini glasses at the ready.