Retro Cocktail for February: Moscow Mule

The “Moscow Mule” was not invented in Moscow, Russia. Nor does it have anything to do with the hoofed barnyard animal we know as a mule. However, there is a family of cocktails that falls under the name “buck” or “mule”, and these all feature ginger beer or ginger ale and citrus juice (along with liquor, of course). And since this cocktail was created at the outset of World War Two (before Russia became our Cold War nemesis), “Moscow” was added as a friendly nod to our soon-to-be allies against Hitler (not to mention the alliteration). 

Like most famous cocktails, its origins are up for debate. The most current tale is that Jack Morgan, the owner of The Cock ’n’ Bull Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles (and no relation to my best pal, Sky Jack Morgan, the world-renowned poet and adventurer), had a surplus of Smirnoff vodka and Ginger Beer in the basement. The head bartender, one Wes Price, decided to make some room down there, so he created a drink with the vodka and ginger beer. According to legend, the first person to try it was the actor Broderick Crawford, as the place was, and continued to be, a favorite haunt of celebrities and movie stars (including my favorite actor and alcoholic, Richard Burton).

Crawford loved it. And since then, it has caught on and become famous the world over (including Moscow). The origin of the signature copper mug, however, is unclear, although it has become inseparable from the drink itself. A word of warning: it’s best to use a mug coated with copper on the outside only, as eating or drinking from copper vessels or dishes can cause copper toxicity, which is a definite buzz-kill, as the gruesome side-effects include vomiting blood and coma. Talk about a shitty hangover… Wait a sec! Your lips as you drink it would come in contact with the copper on the outside. Um… Use a straw. But a paper-based straw, not a plastic one because plastics can cause… Oh forget it! Barkeep, gimme another…


2 parts Stolichnaya Vodka* liberal splash of Domaine de Canton 3 parts Fever-Tree Ginger Beer

½ part fresh-squeezed Lime juice Shake the Vodka, Ginger Liqueur, and Lime juice over ice, then pour into the copper mug. Add ice and Ginger Beer. Stir, then garnish with a lime wedge.

*For THE WORLD'S BEST MOSCOW MULE, substitute SPUD Ginger-Lemongrass Vodka for the Stoli, and add a dash or two of Hella Bitter Ginger Lemon bitters! AMAZING!


And check out the BLOG entry for October 11, 2016: Acapulco With Liz & Dick: A Hot Cocktail for the Jet Set

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