Moscow Mule 5.12.18

-Branden Kummer

Named after Moscow, but born in Manhattan and popularized on the West Coast, the Moscow Mule is a vodka cocktail known by the traditional copper mug it is generally served in. That pure copper mug, once as inseparable from the Mule as the Old Fashioned is from its namesake glass, has changed a bit in recent years. You see, the copper can start dissolving into acidic mixtures. To avoid also consuming copper on top of everything else, the tradition has switched using from pure copper mugs to allowing for copper mugs lined with a different metal on the inside. The US FDA does not permit copper to or copper alloys to be used with anything that has a pH (a measurement of the acidity of a solution) below 6. This includes and wine spirits. In case you’re curious, vodkas can have a pH of anywhere from 8.8 to 7.0.

With the whole “Vodka is acidic” (no kidding, right?) disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk recipe.

  • 2 oz vodka

  • 6 oz ginger beer

  • 1/2 oz lime juice

  • Lime garnish

Pour the vodka into a Moscow Mule Mug, (Or, failing that, a Collins glass) and then add cold ginger beer (not ginger ale)

Squeeze lime juice and drop in the shell


Two men claim to have invented the Moscow Mule, John G. Martin claims he and Jack Morgan, owner of the LA pub Cock ‘n’ Bull, bore the cocktail. The pub’s head bartender Wes Price, claims that he invented the Mule.  Martin was the president at Heublein, an American Spirits company that was founded in 1862 and dissolved in the 90s and at one point owner Smirnoff. When Martin had bought the rights to Smirnoff in the 1930s, vodka was not very popular in America. While Smirnoff would provide the vodka, Morgan had bought a great deal of ginger beer for his bar. The copper tradition, according to the book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, states that Morgan’s girlfriend owned a business that manufactured copper products. The combination, born of necessity apparently, gave us the Moscow Mule.


Jill Kummer