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The Moscow mule is one of the most popular cocktails ever conceived. A fairly simple cocktail, it consists of vodka, ginger beer (the spicier the better), and lime juice. The spiciness of the ginger beer mixed with the fresh citrus burst of the lime and the vodka makes the perfect, refreshing drink on a hot day. It can be prepared in a regular rocks (or collins) glass, but, similar to a mint julep and its famous cup, the Moscow mule is best served in a copper mug.
Most famous cocktails are meant to be served in specific drinkware. The martini is served in a martini glass and a margarita is served in a margarita glass. The copper mug a Moscow mule comes in isn’t technically called a Moscow mule glass, but it definitely serves an important purpose. The reasoning is that a copper mug will keep your drink cooler on a hot day without the necessity of extra ice. Another reason is that the acid in the lime juice interacts with the copper to give the drink an extra zing.
A cocktail doesn’t become a “classic” if it hasn’t been around for decades. Like many famed mixed drinks, the genesis of the Moscow mule has been debated. Many believe the drink originated in 1941. A man named Jack Morgan sold a ginger beer called Cock ‘n’ Bull. He found himself at New York’s Chatham Hotel with a group of men that included Rudolph Kunett, the president of Smirnoff. Even though it’s in the name, the drink has nothing to do with Moscow or any other part of Russia.
A few days after Morgan and his colleagues invented the drink, they started referring to it as a “Moscow mule” because of the vodka contained therein and the fact that the Chatham Hotel was the birthplace of “little Moscow”.
Another story attributed the invention of the cocktail to Wes Price, the head bartender at Cock ‘n’ Bull restaurant in Los Angeles. The dispute between the two stories might be the term “cock ‘n’ bull” because both stories reference the name somewhere. The story is that Price invented the drink as he was attempting to use up some of the past-sell-by-date ingredients in the bar’s basement. He mixed together a bunch of stuff that nobody had ordered in a long time.
No matter which story you believe, the drink has been made since the first half of the 20th century and (almost) always contains ginger beer, lime, and vodka in a copper mug. It’s also one of the easiest classic cocktails; you don’t need to know your way around a bar to make one.
- 2 ounces vodka
- 4 ounces ginger beer
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- Lime wedge
Squeeze a lime wedge into a Moscow mule mug. Add ice before pouring in the vodka. Fill the rest of the mug with ginger beer. Add a lime wedge as a garnish and enjoy.