Friday drinks: Moscow Mule

Happy Friday! This week we have a surprisingly refreshing cocktail complete with a Cock ‘n’ Bull Hollywood story. Three cheers for the Moscow Mule!

Moscow mules mixed by Jeff Stewart and served in authentic copper mugs. Photo by Barbara Stepansky.

Moscow mules mixed by Jeff Stewart and served in authentic copper mugs. Photo by Barbara Stepansky.

The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941 by three well known spirit purveyors: John G. Martin, president of G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc., an East Coast spirits distributor; Jack Morgan, owner of the Sunset Strip celebrity hotspot the Cock ‘n’ Bull and owner of Cock ‘n’ Bull products; and Rudolph Kunett, president of Pierre Smirnoff, Heublein’s vodka division. You’ve probably heard of Smirnoff vodka, but you may not know that Jack Morgan’s Cock ‘n’ Bull products produced a non-alcoholic ginger beer. When Martin, Morgan, and Kunett got together for drinks one night, they decided to combine their products together in a cocktail. They mixed Smirnoff vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice over ice and served the concoction in copper mugs. After a taste – or four to five mugs – they knew they had a winner: the Moscow Mule.

Cocktail served in mug engraved with Moscow Mule insignia. Mugs courtesy of Greg Nussbaum. Photo by Barbara Stepansky.

Cocktail served in mug engraved with Moscow Mule insignia. Mugs courtesy of Greg Nussbaum.
Photo by Barbara Stepansky.

The copper mugs would become as iconic as the drink. To promote sales of the cocktail, Cock ‘n’ Bull restauranteur Jack Morgan had copper mugs engraved with the names of the Hollywood stars who frequented his establishment. When the celebs came in, they ordered a Moscow Mule and it was served in their personalized mugs. Who wouldn’t love that?

Once the Moscow Mule caught on with the celebs, the drink gained huge popularity. Smirnoff vodka and ginger beer sales took off. Some suggest the Moscow Mule was created purely as a marketing tool. It’s thought Martin, Morgan, and Kunett wanted to drive flagging sales for ginger beer and a then little known vodka brand. Whatever their impetus, they concocted a cocktail with broad appeal.

English: Oprah Winfrey in Denmark on 30 Septem...

Oprah Winfrey has been known to raise a copper mug. Photo courtesy of Bill Ebbesen.

Celebs still love the Moscow Mule. In 2012 Oprah Winfrey listed a Moscow mule kit as one of her favorite things. I think you’ll dig the drink, too. I know I sure did.

When music video and commercial director and our resident mixologist Jeff Stewart served the Moscow Mule at our most recent cocktail sampling, it was a big hit. One of the first things I noticed was the light, bright taste of the ginger beer. Ginger beer is similar to ginger ale, but it’s less sweet. It blends beautifully with the fresh-squeezed lime juice. However, you can use ginger ale if you enjoy sweeter cocktails.

The neutrality of the vodka makes the Moscow Mule an easy, smooth cocktail perfect for the warmer temperatures of late spring and summer. While the original calls for Smirnoff, Jeff recommends chilled Ketel One or Stoli.

Wanna try Jeff’s recipe? Here it is.

Half a lime
1 1/2 oz. of vodka
3 oz. of ginger beer

Fill mug or glass with crushed ice. Juice half of a lime into your mug. Add squeezed lime to mug. Add vodka and ginger beer. Stir gently until mixed.

Keep your glass half-full. Drink responsibly.