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Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule cocktail in copper mug.
A classic cocktail that’s been around since the first half of the 20th century, the Moscow Mule has been enjoyed in copper mugs for seventy years.  Peppery, sweet and citrusy, the Mule is a simple yet flavorful cocktail that has become one of the most popular cocktails in the world today.  It’s creation dates to 1941, even though there are two variations to the story.

The first variation involves two men:  John Martin (head of an old liquor company called G.F Hueblein & Bros.) and Jack Morgan (owner of an old pub in Los Angeles called Cock ‘n’ Bull.)  In 1939, Martin bought a little-known vodka brand called Smirnoff from a Russian businessman who was struggling to get the brand off the ground. 

Around the same time, Morgan’s Cock ‘n’ Bull started making a house brand ginger beer.  In 1941, Cock ‘N’ Bull’s ginger beer was introduced to New York and caught the attention of Martin.  According to the story, Martin and Morgan in a stroke of ‘inventive genius’ combined their products together with lemon juice to create the first ever Moscow Mule (the use of lime juice came at a later time.)

However, the second variation to the story is a little simpler.  In this story, the Mule was created by Wes Price, Morgan’s head bartender at Cock ‘N’ Bull.  According to Price, the Mule was actually created out of desire to get rid of unsellable products.  A shipment of Martin’s Smirnoff was just sitting in the Cock ‘N’ Bull cellar collecting dust, alongside gallons of unused ginger beer.  “I was just trying to get rid of dead stock,” claimed Price in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.  Thus, the cocktail was born and very quickly gained immense popularity.  By 1942, Insider Hollywood called the Moscow Mule the most popular cocktail in Los Angeles.

So what about the copper mug for serving?  Well, this came as a result of a genius marketing ploy by Martin.  After the creation of the cocktail Martin went around the country to sell his Smirnoff vodka and spread the word about the newly created Moscow Mule, strictly made with Smirnoff vodka, of course.  At every bar he visited, Martin would ask the bartender to pose for a picture with a bottle of Smirnoff and a copper mug exclusively used to hold Moscow Mule’s.

He would always take two pictures:  one he would take with him and the other he would leave with the bartender for display at the bar.  The photos he took with him he would compile in album used as proof to show the popularity of the Mule to the next bar and bartender.  The rest is history!  Not only is the Moscow Mule famous for its use of the copper mug, but it’s also famous for popularizing Smirnoff, which today is one of the most popular brands of vodka in the world.

Here’s the recipe: 

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • ¾ oz Lime Juice
  • Ginger Beer

Directions:

Combine vodka and lime juice in a copper Moscow Mule copper mug filled with ice.  Top off the rest of the glass with ginger beer.  Garnish with a lime wedge.