The Moscow Mule: the drink born from three separate ill-conceived business ventures. Legend says that John G. Martin convinced his employer to invest a large amount in vodka, which promptly sold miserably. Even though it was marketed as a whiskey alternative that wouldn’t leave the smell of alcohol on your breath, it just couldn’t beat out regular old whiskey in the day-drinking demographic. Defeated, Martin tottered off to the Cock ‘n’ Bull bar owned by one Jack Morgan. Jack himself was sitting on a lot of un-sellable ginger beer, and the two connected over their misfortune. Mix in another acquaintance – who apparently had acquired a ton of copper mugs – add a lime wedge, and the Moscow Mule was born. Martin then proceeded to travel the country on a PR blitz that pushed the drink into popular culture of the 1940s.

The Mule is a cold drink. The ice plus the copper mug means that everything stays nice and chilly for a long time (coincidentally, it also means the Mule sweats a lot, so be sure to use a coaster). So you may ask yourself; why would I recommend a cold drink in the middle of winter? Well, perhaps your fireplace is too hot and you need to cool down, or your fancy new mittens from the holidays aren’t getting enough use, or maybe it’s because I was wearing shorts on Christmas day and I don’t actually think winter is coming. All joking aside, the spice of the ginger beer is perfect for warming you up in the winter, and after a few, the vodka will as well.

The Mule is a simple drink to make, but has year-round staying power. Start practicing now, and within a few months you’ll have perfected its refreshing goodness just in time for Summer. This time of year the mugs start to go to clearance, so snatch up enough for all of your Summer bbq buddies. If you don’t have any friends the copper can be sold for scrap if you’re in a pinch, so think of it as an investment. It’s also delicious, damn it; so stoke the fire, put on those mittens and enjoy.

The basics:

  • 1 copper mug
  • 2 oz vodka
  • ginger beer
  • lime wedge.

Squeeze lime wedge into empty copper mug and drop in the peel. Then add ice, vodka, and fill with ginger beer. Garnish with another lime wedge or wheel.


The twist:

I like to add a drop or two of vanilla extract at the end to get a little bit of a cream soda taste. If the ginger beer is too spicy for you, replace it with ginger ale; it’s milder, duller cousin. To add a fruity twist to the drink, replace lime wedge with strawberries and blueberries, and garnish with an orange peel. You could even switch in a fruit flavored vodka, although I wouldn’t go too crazy. If the Mule doesn’t have enough alcohol for you, then replace the non-alcoholic ginger beer with the alcoholic versions now gaining popularity. In the summer, twist a sprig of mint and drop it in with the lime wedge before adding the ice to make it a little more refreshing.