The Moscow Mule is a tasty cocktail with an interesting history.
Vodka, originally marketed as “white whiskey,” never caught on in America until after World War II. Classic pre-Prohibition cocktail books rarely mention vodka, and few, if any bars or restaurants during that time carried vodka. After World War II, liquor distributors had trouble selling vodka because of the perception that it was a Russian product and the United States’ rivalry with the Soviet Union.
In 1941, at Hollywood’s Cock’n Bull Tavern, owner Jack Morgan had a meeting with two spirits executives from Heublein, who owned the Smirnoff vodka brand at the time. After several cocktails, the men decided to see how mixing their vodka with the Cock’n Bull’s ginger beer would turn out. A lime squeeze was added, the drinks were served in copper mugs, and the Moscow Mule was born. It wasn’t until the early 1950s, though, that the drink began to catch on with the Hollywood crowd in Southern California, and later only spreading out throughout the rest of the country.
While the original Moscow Mule was made with Smirnoff vodka and Cock’n Bull ginger beer, don’t be afraid to experiment with either the vodka or the ginger beer. And copper mugs aren’t essential, either. While the mugs do get quite cold, a good quality glass “bucket” or double rocks glass works almost as well.
This drink is easy to prepare and refreshing on a warm day, and it goes down easy. Being prepared to make this drink just requires some ginger beer on hand, a bottle of vodka in the liquor cabinet, and a fresh lime and the hardest part of making this drink is cutting the lime. Try the Moscow Mule next time you’re looking for a refreshing cocktail with a nice ginger bite and see if this doesn’t become a household favorite.
Makes 1 serving
- 2 oz vodka (Smirnoff was the original vodka used)
- Ginger beer (Cock’n Bull was the original, Reeds makes a nice substitute)
- 1 lime wedge garnish
- In a copper mug or double rocks glass (also known as a bucket), add vodka, ice and top with ginger beer.
- Garnish with a fresh lime wedge.