Home Audrey’s Travel Recipes Summer is Here and the Time is Right for Drinking the Moscow Mule

Summer is Here and the Time is Right for Drinking the Moscow Mule

By Audrey Hart

The Mosco Mule in its traditional copper mug. Photograph courtesy of the European Bartending School.

Well, my friends at Food & Wine keep me refreshed with so many intoxicating drinks.

This intoxicant came to me from Rich Manning, a writer and spirits and food competition judge based in Los Angeles. He has been writing about spirits, wine, beer, food and travel since 2004. I understand Rich wants to battle; An East Coast vs. West Coast battle, which he is ready to settle.

This is timely news, for I just cancelled my river cruise on the Neva River.

And, BTW, Rich -The Moscow Mule, being a type of buck, is sometimes called vodka buck.

But Who Really Invented the Moscow Mule and Why Is It in a Copper Mug?

Courtesy of Rich Manning

The Moscow Mule’s most famous component isn’t an ingredient, it’s the copper mug that traditionally holds the simple cocktail of vodka, ginger beer, and lime. It’s the mug’s burnished sheen that set the drink apart in the early days of the cocktail revival when vodka-based drinks were considered passé.

The mug is the very reason the Moscow Mule exists in the first place. Where this began is up for debate, however.

While some people trace the post-Prohibition cocktail’s origins to Los Angeles, others insist the drink was created in New York City.

“It kind of comes off as a Biggie vs. Tupac, East Coast vs. West Coast kind of argument,” says Gina Hoover, bartender and consultant for CURE in New Orleans. “But I’m not surprised at all why the argument exists. If you ask an American to name five drinks, 90% will probably name the Moscow Mule as one of the five,” she says. “If you’re a city, and a drink has that kind of power, you’d naturally want to take credit for it.”

There are shared traits to each city’s tale. Both pin the drink’s creation to 1941, a relatively modern date compared to other cocktails with convoluted beginnings. They also stake claim to some of the same players, including a struggling-at-the-time vodka brand that’s now a household name. The theories’ part ways from here.

Mamie Taylor is the Original Moscow Mule? This Scotch, lime, and ginger ale drink was later updated with vodka and became a sensation. Photograph courtesy of the Daily Beast.

New York: Three guys walk into a bar…

According to the New York theory, the Moscow Mule stems from Midtown Manhattan’s Chatham Hotel.

A Los Angeles-based beverage executive named John “Jack” Morgan was in town to promote his own Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer, a product that shared a name with the Hollywood bar he also operated.

He was hanging out with a couple of industry folks – John Martin, president of the now-defunct G.F. Heublein & Brothers distillery and distributor, and Rudolph Kunett, president of Hublein’s vodka division, Smirnoff. After a couple of drinks, the trio wondered what would happen if they combined vodka, ginger beer, and a squeeze of lime juice. Deliciousness ensued.

They named their creation the Moscow Mule. Shortly thereafter, they purchased 500 copper mugs embossed with the phrase “Little Moscow.”

Los Angeles: Pick one…

There are two Los Angeles origin stories to consider.

Morgan and Martin show up as in the first account. Instead of Kunett, they’re joined by Sophie Berezinski, a Russian woman living in Los Angeles, struggling to find buyers for the 2,000 solid copper mugs she designed.

A mixologist at work at the European Bartending School. Photograph courtesy of the European Bartending School.

Though not confirmed: The Moscow Mule method (courtesy of the European Bartending School).

Step 1

Start building your vodka ginger beer cocktail by pouring a scoop of ice cubes in your copper Moscow Mule mug. We’re pretty traditional about our cocktails here at EBS, so we think these cups well worth investing in.

But why do you need one? Well, copper is an excellent conductor of heat, and a copper mug will keep your Moscow Mules perfectly chilled as you sip it. Mystery solved.

Step 2

Next, pour your vodka and lime juice over the ice.

The original Moscow Mule recipe uses Smirnoff vodka, which is one of our favourites. You can go for their classic Smirnoff original, or if you want to push the boat out (which we always encourage), try one of their premium blends, Smirnoff Red or Smirnoff Black.

These two are filtered using the traditional charcoal method, giving them a deep and authentic flavor.

Step 3

Fill up your glass with ginger beer, and garnish with a fresh lime wedge.

As we said earlier, the world won’t end if you use ginger ale instead. But a good cold ginger beer can really be the star of a Moscow Mule recipe.

Which ginger beer brands do we favor? Fever Tree Ginger Beer is decent option. It gives the cocktail a spicy kick that complements the zingy lime and sharp vodka.

If you are a fan of this drink, you’ll be pleased to know there are tons of Moscow Mule variations that use other spirits instead of vodka – like the Kentucky mule (with bourbon) and the Mexican mule (with tequila).

Grab that copper mug and start experimenting!

Moscow Mule ingredients as per the European Bartending School

(Makes 1 cocktail)

  • A copper mug
  • 1 scoop of cubed ice
  • 40ml (1.5oz) vodka
  • 20ml (¾ oz) fresh lime juice
  • Ginger beer (just fill that glass right up)
  • A fresh lime wedge for garnish

For the vodka, we’d recommend the OG, Smirnoff. Also, if you prefer, Absolut works just as well. The ginger beer should be just that – beer. But if you have to switch it up with ginger ale instead, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

And it goes without saying, freshly squeezed lime juice is always better than the bottled stuff.

Or, if you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could even make your own ginger beer.


Peter the Great’s Quest for the Holy Moscow Mule

By Ringo Boitano

Tsar Peter the Great leading the Russians at the Battle of Poltava, trying to come-to-terms that none of the Swedish soldiers are drinking Moscow Mules. Photograph of painting courtesy of pinterest.

Peter I was Tsar of Imperial Russia from 1682, and the first Emperor of all Russia, known as “Peter the Great,” but to his friends as “Sparky.” Tsar Peter I was disappointed that he was unable to find the Holy Russian Mule in his empires’ capital city of Moscow. He decided to lead his Imperial Army to the Baltic Sea to engage his enemy, the Swedish, in battle. His ultimate plan was to find the source of the elusive Moscow Mule. After defeating the Swedes, their top generals were captured, and he asked them at gunpoint, “What exactly is this thing called the Moscow Mule?” The generals all smiled, and then in unison, said one word: “Nej!”

Peter was fluent in many languages, but was a little weak in Swedish. He was once a master of it, but had forgotten much of it, after having watched his relatives murdered before his eyes when he was a little boy. He was particularly annoyed for he had already made plans to torture and murder them later, which had caused him to cancel his weekly bowling night with his sensitive Cossack bowling team. Even more so, for his cousin Dimitri had planned to join them, and he was the only one who could actually score the bowling card without cheating, despite the fact that Dimitri would often pretend to be asleep whenever Peter the Great threw a gutter ball.

Peter was fond of dressing in costumes in order to get into children’s matinees at half price at the Kremlin. That’s Peter on the left, and his loyal general, Boris Zharykhin, just realizing that Peter just gave him a poisonous Ptichye Moloko candy bar. They had been close since childhood. Photograph courtesy of Tony McNamara the great Huluinte rview Micholas Hoult.

Peter then asked his generals to translate the Swedish word into Russian. The generals, despite a sense of obvious nervousness, finally replied that it meant,”Nyet!” in Russian.

Peter, now “Peter the Great,” was clearly disappointed, and decided to concentrate on building Imperial Russia’s new capital city in a marsh, which he christened, St. Petersburg. Throughout history, many Moscow Mule aficionados have assumed that he had named St. Petersburg after himself. But later, in the last century, despite the confusion if it was the Julian Calendar, the Byzantine Calendar, the Russian Orthodox Calendar, the Gregorian Calendar, the Free Willie Calendar or the Doomsday Calendar of 3000 ACE, where all Dutch waffle irons which were timed to explode in 43 second sequences to the tune of “Froggy Went a Courtin.'” Finally, an elderly Basque shepherd in Bakersfield, CA, who had signed an oath to only eat lamb meatballs prepared in a microwave, confirmed, after a sleepless night in the fields, due children throwing snowballs at him with rocks in the center, that the city was actually named after the Catholic Christian, Saint Peter: the world’s first Pope! Sadly, not recognized in the US Bible Belt by tele-evangelicalists, who preach regularly in a unique form of American-English, often crying, while pleading for donations from innocent viewers.


Breaking News: Peter the Great’s Last Will and Testament discovered.

Peter the Great’s Last Will and Testament was just discovered in a snowbank in Siberia by Terry Cassel. Sources indicate that it was hidden in a Beatles Handpainted Nesting Doll 5 PC Matryoshka Stacking Doll Set. Apparently. Cassel was enjoying his free day on a Volga River cruise. He decided to hire a group of retired Russian Serfs to pull a sled 7,008 miles to Siberia. The Serfs were available after rescheduling their weekly mix-couples’ Parcheesi Board Game (Gold Seal Edition Vintage 664 COMPLETE, Confirmed, Like New!) to a later date. The game had been postponed due to heavy showers of Tartar bombs.

Though strangely reluctant, Cassel was eventually forced to reveal the contents when 16 retired Nazi Storm Troopers, who had been living comfortaby in the Bavarian Aps as cattlewomen, pointed AK-47s Soviet assault rifles, possibly the most widely used shoulder weapon in the world. The initials AK represent Avtomat Kalashnikova, Russian for “automatic Kalashnikov,” named in the honor of its designer, Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, who designed the accepted version of the weapon in 1947. This confused Cassel, for the day before, he had watched repeated viewings (on his phone) of the January 6th assault on the US Capital Building, and had noticed many of the Trump cultists boasting that they had inherited identical ones in the rural US Territory of Idaho by their grandfathers. This only confused Cassel more, for he remembered old photographs (not on digital) of grandfathers in Idaho who all had similar brown stains on their MAGA T-shirts.

Mr. Cassel understood why there were brown stains, after having acheived a PHD at Trump University in the delicacy of log cabin construction (and with a Swiss Pocket Knife, complete with toe nail tweezers and a gold-plated toothpick!). Cassel was stunned by his repeated viewings of the January 6th assault on the US Capital Building, noticing many of the Maga domestic terrorists were hoarsely screaming, Hang Mike Pence! (something about the US Vice President not having the courage to do the right thing, and there was some kind of noose waiting for him inside). This upset Cassel, realizing their hoareness might have stemmed from drinking a bad batch of Trump Wine, currently on sale at CVS for $1.99! Even more so, assuming the patriotic MAGA domestic terrorists did not have the courtesy to drink Moscow Mules in a proper copper-colored glass, traditionally consumed annually every January 6th.

AFTER MUCH DELAY: The contents of the Beatles Handpainted Nesting Doll 5 PC Matryoshka Stacking Doll Set was revealed:

An Official Imperial Russian Document to NEVER Send Vladimir Putin any Christmas Cards.* ** ***

* Sealed by a Kiss.

** Translated to poor American-English from a unique Cyrillic Script.

*** Sadly, this confused Terry Cassel further; believing it was TOP SECRET documents which belonged to the People of the United States, stored in an emperor’s bedroom at an overpriced building in South Florida, converted into a hotel, in a particularly bad and ostentatious design. Cassel was unable to confirm if there was still a large US Flag outside that blocked neighbor’s views. Or, if there was one at all, and wondering if it was waving upside down.

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