The Long, Strange History of the Moscow Mule

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Moscow MuleOnce long forgotten, the Moscow Mule rose from the ashes of its status as a cocktail has-been to become a modern cocktail of choice. Now, it seems like practically every establishment has a slew of Mules on the menu – great news for those of us that enjoy this zippy all-season cocktail.

However, with the sheer amount of Mules available today, seemingly covering every fruit, liquor, and carbonated alternative known to mankind, we have a few questions. Where did this drink come from in the first place? What makes a mule a Mule? And – perhaps most importantly – how can we drink more of them?

The Original Mule

Liquor lore is full of coincidences, and the series of events that led up to the original Moscow Mule is no different. In 1939, the Smirnoff brand was a tiny, struggling vodka company that had just been bought out by John G. Martin for $14,000. To promote sales, Martin approached a number of business owners, including the owner of the Cock N’ Bull bar in Hollywood. Unfortunately, neither the vodka or the bar’s house-brewed ginger beer sold according to expectations and by 1941, both were desperate.

Depending on who you ask, either Martin or the Cock N’ Bull’s bartender at the time – a man by the name of Wes Price – got the idea to clear out the bar’s storeroom and push a concoction of ginger beer and vodka. Around the same time, Sophie Berezinski – a Russian immigrant – came to Hollywood with a stash of 2,000 copper mugs crafted at her father’s copper shop. The cocktail received both a name and a preferred vehicle, and the traditional Moscow Mule was born.

What Makes This Cocktail a Mule?

While the name “Moscow Mule” is attributed to the spicy kick of the ginger beer and the origins of the associated vodka, what truly makes a mule a Mule? After all, it’s possible to find mules made with all sorts of ingredients and a wide variety of liquors. Purists will tell you that a drink isn’t truly a mule unless it’s made with Smirnoff, Cock N’ Bull ginger beer, and served in a copper mug – but we believe variety is the spice of life.

To us, it’s the overall combination of ginger notes, the citrusy zest, the bubbly finish, and the punch of liquor that makes a cocktail a true Mule. If you can find a copper mug to serve it in (the copper really does add a unique taste and serve to chill your drink in a way glass just can’t match), all the better. To celebrate your newfound freedom to try all the mules you can get your hands on, consider these aptly-named alternatives:

  • Mexican mule – try using a splash of tequila instead of Smirnoff

  • British mule – take a break from gin, tonic, and lime and use your gin in this similar flavor profile

  • Caribbean mule – swap out your vodka for some dark, spiced rum

  • Irish mule – forego the traditional Smirnoff for your favorite Irish whiskey

No matter which Mule you’ve decided to start with, Payless Liquors has a wide selection of liquors and ginger beers perfect for your next Mule experiment. Stop in today, call ahead, or order online to ensure your selections are ready for limited-contact pickup.

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