Moscow mules are one of the trendiest drinks on the market right now, and they are also one of the drinks with the most history behind them!
Originally invented in 1941 by the same man that brought A-1 Steak Sauce to America (a national treasure, if you ask me), a traditional moscow mule (also known as a “buck”) contains 4oz of ginger beer (a non alcoholic beverage similar to ginger ale), 1/6 oz of lime juice and 1 /2 oz of vodka. There are many folk tales out there about why it was called a moscow mule, but the one that seems to be the most historical correct is that, back in the 1940s, vodka was a very unpopular liquor (in fact, many people joked that vodka was Russian for “horrible”). John Martin, of A-1 Steak Sauce fame, was also the owner of Smirnoff. After trying and failing at getting vodka to catch on, he was sitting around complaining with his good friend Jack Morgan, the owner of a company that made ginger beer. Apparently, there was also another struggling business owner that was having trouble moving copper mugs.
The three of them put their heads together, experimented, and came up with the moscow mule (the origin of the name is more hazy but most people think moscow was a random name given as an ode to Russia, where vodka was said to have originated and the mule was to honor the “kick” given by the ginger beer). The moscow mule was just different enough with the additional of the copper mug that it took off! The copper mug lends the drink a certain prestige and mystery that many people across America seem to be re-embracing over the last few years in particular.
But why the copper mug now, years later, when it was originally used as a selling point only?
The use of copper drinking vessels has been around since the 1600s throughout the world. The greatest benefit to the use of the copper mug with the moscow mule is temperature. Copper keeps drinks cooler for longer amounts of time as the metal takes on the temperature of whatever is poured into it. The handle keeps the condensation and cold temps away from your hands, keeping them from getting wet from all the sweat on the outside of the mug. This also keeps your body temperature from warming the drink up. Some purists also claim that there is a taste component. The theory is that the copper oxidizes the vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice which heightens and intensifies the flavor.
And besides, it just looks cool, doesn’t it? If you haven’t tried a moscow mule yet this summer, get out there and have your bartender make you one (or make one yourself with the recipe above!). They are cool, refreshing, and perfect for warmer weather. Prefer to have drinks at home? Get a mule set here and make your own.