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The Moscow Mule, a vodka and ginger beer classic

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There’s something about a Moscow Mule that makes it a winning drink in any season.

There’s the spicy, tingly, gingery heat from the ginger beer that makes it welcome in winter, and the refreshing chill of a copper mug filled with ice and a splash of lime that make it refreshing on the hottest summer day.

Limes sliced in half next to a copper tumbler with bottles of ginger beer and vodka in the frame

It has a short ingredient list: just vodka, ginger beer, and lime.

And that makes it accessible to anyone—no need for an extensive liquor cabinet or hard-to-find ingredients.

The copper mugs are traditional, and while they are easy to find these days, they are totally optional. You can serve a Moscow Mule in whatever glassware you have around.

A yellow citrus squeezer juicing a lime into a glass

The drink was created, like so many bar and restaurant specials, out of a need to sells products they had too much of.

The Moscow Mule was first served not in Moscow, but at the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub in Los Angeles in 1941.

It was possibly invented by the bar’s owner, Jack Morgan, and Smirnoff marketing rep John G. Martin who were trying to move vodka, a spirit that had yet to gain popularity in the U.S. Or maybe it was the pub’s bartender, Wes Price who created the drink. Both versions of the origin story exist, and we’ll probably never know precisely who did what.

But regardless, the pub had too much vodka and too much ginger beer, and also, apparently, access to copper mugs.

And thus the drink was born.

Vodka being poured into a measuring glass with a copper cup behind

Cocktail historian Ted Haigh claims that Morgan had a girlfriend who owned a company that manufactured copper products. There are other stories that claim that Russian immigrant Sophie Berezinski provided the bar with a surplus of copper mugs.

Martin, a skilled marketer, went around photographing celebrities drinking Moscow Mules out of copper mugs or bartenders making the drink in copper mugs to help make the Moscow Mule standout and sell more vodka. It worked.

A drop of vodka clings to a measuring glass above a copper cup

Still, while the copper mug as symbol of the Moscow Mule may have started as a marketing stunt, there’s a practical reason to use one: copper is a great thermal conductor.

So if you happen to have a copper mug or copper tumbler it will help to keep your drink cold. (Unlined copper can react with acidic ingredients, so look for a vessel that’s lined with something non-reactive like stainless steel.)

Ginger beer being poured into a copper cup to make a Moscow Mule

I insist that you squeeze your own limes for this. Fresh lime juice is better than any pre-bottled stuff. (Get an inexpensive citrus squeezer to make your life easier.)

As for the rest, use any vodka you like. (Or if you’re feeling adventurous, swap out the vodka for a different spirit, like in this Mezcal Mule.)

Ginger beer is spicier than ginger ale, but go ahead and use ginger ale if that’s what you’ve got. (You can even make your own ginger ale.)

Add the vodka and lime to your mug, add ice, top with ginger beer, and drink (responsibly).

Cheers!

Moscow Mule cocktail in a copper tumbler with limes in the background
Yield: 1 drink

Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule cocktail in a copper tumbler with limes in the background

The Moscow Mule is a classic cocktail that helped to popularize vodka in the United States.

It's made with vodka, ginger beer (or sometimes ginger ale), and lime juice.

Please squeeze your own limes here—half a lime should be about right.

The copper mug helps to keep the drink cold, but it's totally optional. Use whatever glassware you like.

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • garnish, slice of lime

Instructions

1. Add the vodka and lime juice to a copper mug, add ice, top with ginger beer, and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 195Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g

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