Monday, January 4, 2016

Behind the Cocktail: The Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is a popular vodka cocktail, most known for being served
in rounded copper mugs.  I served them myself at our holiday party, and they
were a big hit!  Why?  My theory is that the mug is the gimmick 
that gets you interested, but in the end, they are simply delicious!
Did you know that the Moscow Mule was created in the early 1950s and was
credited for starting the vodka craze?  Gin was the preferred white spirit, but
after the mule caught on, sales of vodka went sky high.
It all began with two guys in Hollywood on the Sunset strip at the Cock 'n' Bull bar.
John Martin, the man who bought the Smirnoff brand from the Russians 
where it originated in 1860, walked in to this bar see his friend, Jack Morgan.
Jack was the manager of the bar, and he had his own line of bottled 
ginger beer, which he had not been successful in selling.  John was having 
a hard time distributing this Russian style spirit.  Together they came up with
the idea of combining the vodka with the ginger beer and garnishing with lime.
The men ordered some copper mugs to serve up the Moscow Mules 
and then took the idea to the many bars along the strip in Hollywood.
Martin had just acquired one of the new instant camera Polaroids, and so
as he went bar to bar to sell his vodka,  he would snap photos of the barkeep
holding a bottle of Smirnoff and a copper mug holding the mule.
He then would show the photos to every other bar to entice them to buy
what the other bars were selling.  It was promotion at its best,
 and the Moscow Mule was on its way.
A celebrity ad campaign was launched to boost sales, as shown here in this
1951 photo of Woody Allen, hawking the Smirnoff Moscow Mule.
Eventually, like most things, this cocktail faded out of fashion, due in part to it's
association with Russia.  America was fighting the cold war and
 so the Moscow Mule was deemed unpopular and unAmerican, 
even though Smirnoff was now an American brand.
Its come back in popularity is due to the increased interest in old school mixed drinks.
 If you are interested in seeing what the stir is all about, its quite easy to create.
  • Vodka (Smirnoff was the original, but any brand will do)
  • Ginger Beer (This is non-alcoholic, but sold at liquor stores in the section with grenadine and other non-alcoholic mixers. Substitute ginger ale in a pinch, but ginger beer is more zesty.)
  • Limes (use fresh limes from your grocer, not lime juice)
  • Ice
  • Copper mug (I found mine at HomeGoods for $9.95 each, or you can use a glass.)
  • Lime squeezer tool (I also found this at HomeGoods, but you can find it where ever cooking utensils are sold)
You can find gift packs like this at HomeGoods or TJMaxx or Marshalls.
  They will also be found sold as single mugs.  You can serve these drinks in a glass, 
but the mule mug makes it so much more fun, and it keeps it so
 cold and frosty, the ice never melts! I was planning on serving them at my party
in regular drinking glasses, but my cousin, Pat,  said I should really try the mugs.
I am so glad she did, because it feels more special drinking out of this cool mug,
so a big thank you to Pat in California! 
After I posted on Facebook about my plan to serve these drinks, I was
regifted with a set of Mule Mugs from someone who didn't want them.
How cool is that? Thanks Tony! Now I have a half a dozen mule mugs!

Ok, here is how to mix one up...
Fill your mug with ice, squeeze half a lime using the squeezer tool over the ice.
Pour two ounces of vodka into the mug and then top off with ginger beer.
  Throw the lime wheel into the mug and start sipping!
Ever since our party we have been enjoying these mules nightly!
Haha, well it was a long vacation, and they are delicious.
We have put away all of our Christmas decorations and now
its time for organizing things and getting back to normal.
No more parties for awhile for us, but if you are looking to have
a little extra fun on football Sunday or planning a winter party, consider
adding these crowd pleasing drinks to the menu. 
They really are yummy.

 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png
Note: This post is partially sponsored by HomeGoods as part of my participation in their Pinterest Designer Board, Happy by Design.  All opinions are my own. 


  1. The history of this drink is so interesting, Amy. And I agree that drinking from a special mug or glass always makes a drink even more delicious! Thanks for the recipe. I'm going to look for some of those mugs (maybe on sale now? lol) the next time I hit the city! :)

    xoxo laurie

    1. It is fun to know the background of the drink isn't it? I guess it was THE drink to drink back in the 50s!

  2. Great info Amy. Made me want to have one!


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