Some things just don’t catch on. Remember that brief period where we all, without hesitation, started referring to French fries as “Freedom fries”? We certainly wish we could forget. Some recipes should just stick with the original. Luckily for us, the Moscow Mule’s open for interpretation.
Bartenders are inventing riffs on the classic, and there’s a whole new world out there — literally. There’s a London Mule, Havana Mule, Dublin Mule, and Jalisco Mule, and we think that stirring the melting pot, or copper mug, is a good thing. And that’s just the start.
This much ingenuity seems fitting for a drink that was developed primarily to rid its originators of money woes and ended up becoming the “it” drink of Hollywood. Back in the 1940s, Americans were primarily dark-liquor drinkers, so when John Martin convinced the company he worked for, Heublein Inc., to buy Smirnoff Vodka and bottle the remaining contents — which they dubbed “white whiskey” — he needed to convince the public it wasn’t “Russian for ‘horrendous,’” as a 1933 drink book called vodka at the time. Enter Jack Morgan, owner of Cock ‘n Bull, the glamorous Hollywood joint on the Sunset Strip. He was having trouble moving home-brewed ginger beer and the two combined the products, added a lime, and history was made. According to Martin, Morgan’s girlfriend had just acquired a struggling copper business and she contributed the idea for the signature mug. So if it was developed at Cock ‘n’ Bull, where’d the “mule” come from? The Moscow Mule is so aptly named because the ginger beer “gives it a kick.” The drink was a hit and vodka became a top-selling liquor, though it fell out of favor during the Cold War.
Today, the elegant cocktail is popping up on menus everywhere. But with only three ingredients, it’s extremely easy to make and add your own touch. We’ve rounded up eight of the best twists on the Moscow Mule.
The copper heiress had the right idea — the metal keeps Mules icy cold, and most argue it also retains the fizziness of the ginger beer. Now major retailers like West Elm and Anthropologie have caught on to the trend. Both stocked Moscow Mule mugs this winter in their gift areas. We agree that the shiny cups are perfect presents and wet bar necessities.
Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow’s casual eatery, The Meatball Shop, has New York buzzing about its delicious namesake dish and desserts, but it’s the cocktails we’re after. The bar menu features a classic Moscow Mule recipe that is refreshing year-round. They’ve even started selling their branded copper mugs online. Click here for the classic moscow mule recipe.