Moscow Mule 101
Wondering why everyone around you is ordering a Moscow Mule? We’ve got the details to put you in the know. Here, everything you wanted to know about this delicious classic cocktail.
1½ oz vodka
4 to 5 oz ginger beer
Moscow Mule: a How-To
There are only three simple components in this iconic cocktail, so choose top-quality ingredients. Of course, you need to start with a good vodka. Next, select a ginger beer that delivers the perfect balance of spice and sweet, and finish it all off with zesty, fresh lime. Easy as one, two, three!
What Vodka Is Best for a Moscow Mule?
There is no doubt that the original vodka for a Mule is Smirnoff, and being a very neutral-tasting vodka, it works well. The real fun with this drink is the subtle difference a vodka can make to the final taste. Try experimenting with two of our favourites: Stolichnaya, with its bold, citrus notes; and Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, with its surprising vanilla and coconut undertones.
Which Ginger Beer Is Best for a Moscow Mule?
Ginger beer is often mistaken for “beer,” but it’s actually a non-alcoholic mixer. Ginger beers vary in sweetness and spice, but our go-to brands are the perfect balance of both. Try the Great Jamaican Ginger Beer Co. or Grace Island Soda for a nice, spicy kick, or Goslings or Fentimans for a slightly sweeter and lighter taste.
How Did the Moscow Mule Get Its Name?
The true meaning of the cocktail’s name might never be revealed. General consensus, however, is that “Moscow” is a nod to Smirnoff’s heritage (although by the cocktail’s debut, all Smirnoff was produced in the U.S.) and “Mule” refers to the kick of spice from the ginger beer.
Do You Need a Copper Mug to Make a Moscow Mule?
While bartenders have long debated the merits of copper mugs, the short answer is no. The drink tastes great in a rocks glass with ice or a highball if you like more ginger beer. However, there are merits to using the classic vessel — a copper mug keeps the drink super cold and looks fantastic, too!
Do I Need Crushed Ice for a Moscow Mule?
No. Bartenders often use crushed ice to make the drink colder, but we find it waters down the cocktail and takes away that delightful bubbly mouthfeel.
What’s a Mule Versus a Buck?
A Mule made with ginger ale is actually called a Buck — a similar but different category of cocktail. If it’s a Mule you want, then ginger beer is the ticket.
Moscow Mule: the History
In the late 1930s, a man named John Martin was the president of Heublein Inc., best known for producing A1 Steak Sauce. Martin decided to take a chance on a product Americans hadn’t yet tried, called vodka. He purchased the recipe and rights for Smirnoff Vodka (once known as the czars’ vodka of choice, before the Bolshevik Revolution saw Smirnoff heir Vladimir Smirnov flee the country with his family’s secret recipe).
Nothing Martin did could convince people to try this strange clear spirit. He attempted to market it as “white whiskey,” but there were no takers. It is said his gamble nearly sent the company into bankruptcy. It sounds like the plot of an inspiring movie, but it’s true.
Martin was discussing his failure with friend Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock ’n Bull restaurant in L.A.
Morgan had trouble of his own, having banked on a new soda called ginger beer, which was not proving popular and had left him with large quantities in storage. It is rumoured that they also had a friend who owned a copper factory in Russia, which set the stage for the simplest marketing idea in spirits history. With the help of bartender Wes Price, the team mixed Smirnoff and ginger beer (with a squeeze of lime) in a copper mug with ice. It was delicious, and nobody had ever had anything like it.
What Is the Best Variation on a Moscow Mule?
The Moscow Mule pairs the exotic spice of ginger beer with a neutral vodka base and a hint of lime. It is this simplicity that makes it so easy to customize — let’s get creative!
Change Your Spirit
Variations on the Mule abound, with the most ubiquitous being the Dark ’n’ Stormy, in which vodka is substituted with Goslings Black Seal rum. The recent whisky craze has seen the rising popularity of the Kentucky Mule, using (you guessed it!) bourbon as its base.
Add a Flavour
Muddled fruit is a favourite, especially in summer. We love to add crushed peaches, blackberries or any in-season berries to a Mule. You can also stir in a fruit juice; we prefer viscous varieties, such as apricot and mango.
Try our most popular modern Mule variation: we combine 1½ oz tequila, 1 oz pineapple juice, ½ oz lime juice, a dash of Tabasco and 3 oz ginger beer. The combination of sweet, spicy, earthy and savoury is a wonderful burst of flavour on the palate.