A Brief History of the Moscow Mule

The experts at Speakeasy Co. are back again with #BartenderKnowHow. This week’s installment? A brief history of a true classic, the Moscow Mule. 

Oh, forget the copper mugs already! Yes, the “traditional” Moscow Mule is supposed to be served in a copper mug, in exactly the same way every kiss begins with Kay, and every Charger jersey is washed with Tide, the official laundry detergent of the NFL.

Before the 1950s, no one wanted to drink vodka in America. Until, that is, the (then American owned) Smirnoff Company channeled the power of marketing. As legend has it, one day in 1946 an exec in the Smirnoff Company lamented to the owner of the Cock’n’Bull tavern in Hollywood about his inability to sell vodka. The owner of the tavern related that he, too, couldn’t sell his product, a spicy ginger beer he had been making that no one would touch. A spark of inspiration, a twist of lime, and a whimsically nonsensical name later, the Moscow Mule was born.

But what of the copper mug?

Simply put, Cock’n’Bull served beer out of copper mugs at the time the drink was conceived, and they had too many in storage.

A bartender said in an interview that he was just trying to “clear out the basement.” But copper is cool and shiny, and vodka was brand new, and so they instantly became part of the experience. Additionally, instant photography had literally just been invented, so the marketing geniuses handed out mugs, taking pictures of bartenders and their shiny copper drinking apparatuses. Bartenders posted this new “Polaroid” magic on the back bar, fueling the spread of the classic and their association. Alas, the mug is an accessory, required for neither the production nor enjoyment of a Moscow Mule.

We say the Moscow Mule is a fine drink. It’s simple, it’s spicy, bright and refreshing, and one cocktail that’s (arguably) better with vodka than with any other spirit. If you can find a copper mug, enjoy it. Drinking out of ice-cold copper is super fun. If not, it’s still good. A mule in any other glass tastes just as sweet.

{ this content originally appeared here }

P.S. – Everything You Need to Know About Cocktail Subscription Service Speakeasy Co.

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