The history of the Moscow Mule is somewhat unique in that it’s based more in marketing than mixology. In 1939, Russian expatriat Rudolph Kunett sold the Smirnoff name to an American liquor and food distributor G.F. Heublein & Bros., leaving corporate head John Martin in charge of finding a way for vodka to compete with whisky in America. He knew vodka would have to be in a mixer for finicky Americans to take to it, so in 1940 Martin and Kunett together met with Jack Morgan, the owner of the Cock ‘n Bull pub in Los Angeles to brainstorm an idea. Jack Morgan’s problem was a surplus of his house brand ginger beer, since unfortunately most Americans only liked ginger ale at the time. After some thinking and drinking, they came up with the Moscow Mule recipe which included both of their products tied together with a hit of lime juice, but they still needed something else to make this merger popular and marketable. Coincidentally Ozaline Schmidt, Jack Morgan’s girlfriend at the time, had just inherited a copper factory from her father and the inspired team promptly ordered copper mugs engraved with the drink’s name, giving them the attractive and memorable packaging needed for peddling this beverage.
In case you wonder why this cocktail was named Moscow Mule, the bite of the ginger beer, and the kick of the vodka will enlighten you. Of course a copper mug isn’t required to enjoy the drink, but the metal mugs do keep the drink a bit colder than glass and let’s face it, it does look pretty amazing – we’re suckers for a great looking drink!
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- 2 oz vodka
- 4 oz ginger beer
- lime wedge
- Pour the vodka and lime juice into a glass, or a copper mug, filled with ice.
- Top off the glass with ginger beer, and garnish with lime wedge.