As it’s described, the Moscow Mule is the drink with a velvet kick! That says it all! Smooth and refreshing with a squeeze of lime, this Vodka drink gets its sweetness and spiciness from Ginger Beer, which is a non-alcoholic bubbly soda that’s traditionally made by natural fermentation of ginger, sugar and brewer’s yeast.
The History of the Moscow Mule
I love the history of drinks and one thing’s for certain, you never hear the same story twice. No doubt that is the case when it comes to the Moscow Mule…although the time and place of the creation seems pretty settled history:
– the Cock’n Bull Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles
– sometime in the early 1940s.
From there, whether it was intentional genius or happenstance…well, that’s for you to decide.
From most accounts, Jack Morgan, the owner of the Cock’n Bull Restaurant, John Martin, president of G.F. Heublein Brothers (a spirits distributor) and Rudolph Kunett, president of Pierre Smirnoff (the Vodka division of Heublein Bros.) were involved in some fashion in its creation.
“We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d’oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius,” Martin told a New York Herald reporter in 1948. “Ice was ordered, limes procured, mugs ushered in and the concoction was put together. Cups were raised, the men counted five and down went the first taste. It was good. It lifted the spirit to adventure,” a reporter for the Herald Tribune wrote.
Although the Cock’n Bull Restaurant closed its doors in 1987 after 50 years in business, they still produce that famed Ginger Beer. You can find their account of how this magnificent cocktail came about HERE.
Other stories give the real credit to Wes Price, Morgan’s head bartender, who claimed that he “just wanted to clean out the basement [of the Cock’n Bull].” According to the Wall St. Journal, Price stated, “I was trying to get rid of a lot of dead stock” that was sitting in the basement, referring to Smirnoff Vodka and their homemade Ginger Beer, which never really had the market in the States that was anticipated.
Supposedly, according to this story, Price mixed the first Moscow Mule for actor Broderick Crawford and “[i]t caught on like wildfire,” Price said.
All the stories are great, but I love Price’s story and the idea of clearing things out to make something better. Sometimes, I enjoy opening the fridge, seeing what’s inside and trying to create something new. While those dishes may never achieve the status of the Moscow Mule, they are still mighty, mighty tasty and popular the day they are made!
Those Classy Copper Mugs
Again, what is the real story here?
Was it Sophie Berezinski, a Russian immigrant who went door to door trying to sell the 2,000 copper mugs she had on hand from her father’s copper company, the Moscow Copper Co.? The Moscow Copper Co.’s still around and you can find their account HERE.
…or was it Morgan’s girlfriend, Osalene Schmitt, who joined the fella’s at the table and whose family had a copper mine?
Hmmm…the plot thickens.
One thing is for sure, the copper mugs are a notable way to serve up a chilly Moscow Mule. But, as a precaution, you do need to make sure that the mug is either lined with stainless steel (it will be silver inside) or lined with a food grade liner to protect the copper from being released into the Moscow Mule as a result of the acidity of the lime.
There are plenty of options out there, so pick the one you like best!
Is Ginger Beer Beer?Nope. Ginger Beer is not beer in the truest sense…no grains. Made the traditional way, Ginger Beer is fermented from ginger, sugar and yeast. Depending on how you make it, you can whip up a batch in a few days to a few weeks.
While I will eventually try my hand at a batch one of these days, it’s easier to pick up a six-pack (er, a four pack) of the spicy stuff at the grocery store.
While the taste is similar to Ginger Ale, it definitely packs more of a spicy punch than the Ginger Ale you get these days. But, you could use ginger ale in a pinch…or if you wanted to save a couple of bucks.
What about the Vodka?Anything goes when it comes to the Vodka. As is the case with most Vodka-based mixed drinks, the Vodka is never really the star of the show. I mean, we’re not talking a Vodka Martini here. We’re mixing it up with Ginger Beer and lime…so you are unlikely to know if there is even Vodka in the drink…it is that smooth of a drink.
Because of that, here an area where you can save yourself some coin. You don’t have to get the uber-cheap stuff that’s in a paper-thin plastic bottle with a name you couldn’t pronounce because it is not even really Russian. But you can make a modest selection and you’ll be just fine.
If you want the original, grab Smirnoff. It’s pretty affordable. No problem there!
Summertime…and the Winter is Over
With summer coming up, this is a great drink to have in your back pocket and it’s an easy one to mix up at a summer soirée.
But…if you’re one of our Southern Hemisphere Tiny Kitchen viewers, as you are well aware, Winter is coming! Time to take shelter and mix up a winter version. Ginger Beer and Vodka, of course. But, add a splash of cranberry juice and instead of lime, try squeezing in a little orange juice instead. Garnish with an orange slice and, if you’re feeling fancy, maybe a sprig of Rosemary and…Voila! The Winter Mule…fit for hibernation.
Let me know what you think of the Moscow Mule and which story you think makes the most sense. Until next week, cheers!
- Cut Lime in half. Cut 1/8 inch think lime wheel from one-half. Reserve to garnish.
- To a 16 ounce Copper Mug, add Vodka and 1/2 Lime (about 1/2 - 3/4 ounces).
- Fill mug with ice.
- Top with Ginger Beer. Lightly stir. Garnish with lime wheel.