Sunday, February 27, 2011

Moscow Mule

If you're going to drink vodka, may as well be a recipe with a little history. As for flavor, you must have a good spicy ginger beer for this one - regular ginger ale won't cut it, and vodka, even one with lots of "character" is so characterless on it's own that it relies solely on the merit of the mixer for flavor.

This is an easy drinker that should be enjoyable to anyone that would enjoy a good ginger beer on its own but dislikes the taste of alcohol.

An advert for the "Smirnoff Mule" which "bucked" the ginger beer for 7-Up.

If you are interested in a history of  the Moscow Mule, Google away! There is a lot of info on the origins, much of it is even correct.

The copper mug commissioned to promote this drink undoubtedly had as much to do with the drink's popularity as anything else. You can find originals regularly on ebay, or buy a faithful replica for a fraction of the price from Cocktail Kingdom here.


1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) vodka
1/2 lime
Ginger Beer (spicy and strong, like Fever Tree)

Build over ice in highball glass (or copper Moscow Mule mug), squeezing in lime and dropping it in for garnish. 

I really like the Fever Tree ginger beer, I prefer it in my "Dark n' Stormy's" too. I was surprised to find a bottle of vodka in my fridge the other day, I honestly didn't think I had any around any longer.

I have nothing personally against vodka or vodka drinks, as long as the drink is made well and tastes good. The made well is the tricky part to find.

After the "(insert adjective)-tini" craze that we thankfully now seem to be emerging from, it is not surprising to me that the same people that helped to pull us from those depths would have a distaste for vodka, the main base spirit used in most of those monstrosities.

After seeing the vodka shelves explode with new "ultra-premium" brands year after year, I think the backlash is overdue and well deserved.

If vodka is in a good recipe though, I'm not going to turn away just because the recipe contains vodka. I'm not going to shell out big bucks for an un-aged neutral spirit, but I'm not reaching for the bottom shelf either. I'm reaching for a Russian vodka off the beaten path, something you might actually find on the shelves of a Moscow liquor store.

Today that bottle is "Moskovskaya", the label of which proclaims itself to be "the most distinctive vodka in the world". Don't they all.

So, trying it on its own I found that on the nose, it smells Soft vodka though and not overly vaporous. It was soft on the tongue too, mild like Stoli but not as sweet with a light grassy flavor mid-palate.

My wife, who has never gotten along with vodka, opted for a variation with rum. Since the Moscow Mule was largely responsible for bringing vodka back to popularity after the onset of the cold war, what better rum to use for her drink than a Havana rum to keep with the cold war theme.

So even though this would be known as a Jamaican Mule, I'm calling her variation a "Havana Mule"...well maybe not - that probably means something different in Miami. How about a "Havana Buck"? Will have to work on that one.

By the way, the Moscow Mule is really just a cleverly marketed "vodka buck" and the Jamaican Mule would have been known as a "Rum Buck" to a pre-prohibition imbiber. The "buck" being a subclass of fizzes, daisies and the like and where ginger beer was used for the sparkling "element" to be used to cut the liquor with. 

The "Moscow Mule" itself was all lime and ginger beer, I could not find any hint of the vodka. On a hot day it would be a good refresher and it would be well suited to a mild brand like Smirnoff. The rum variation was sooo much better though. 

The rum came through just enough and worked really well with the spicy ginger beer. 

You can like vodka if you want to, I mean, it's not like there's anything wrong with that! Give me some added bitters, maybe a chartreuse float and it would be sufficiently spiked that I could make my way though a bottle of vodka and some good ginger beer happily. A gin buck, whiskey or even scotch buck would be tastier and so much easier though. 

I like my new "Moscow Mule" cups quite a bit, they were a lot of fun to drink out of and kept the drinks ice cold. The rum buck with Havana Anejo Reserva was really, really good - I may not wander too far from that path anytime soon. I'll be using them a lot this summer, but I'm going to use them more for "mule-ish" drinks.


  1. I love the copper cups with the mule engraving, very cute. The history of this drink is very intriguing. Check out this video if you want to make one yourself at home,

  2. I made this drink for the third time now, and it is so good and so refreshing. Now, I want to get the copper mugs, too, which I am finding to be available at a number of online shops. Question for you: Most of the mugs are 16 oz. or more, the recipe comes out to about 8 oz. with ice. Did you double the drink in the mugs in the photos or are they smaller mugs? Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  3. I love the copper cups with the mule engraving, very cute. The history of this drink is very intriguing. Check out this Copper Moscow Mule Mug if you want to make one yourself at home,

  4. Its really very cute and i love the copper cup. Thank you so much for sharing these. please keep sharing........

    Moscow mule

  5. Thanks for sharing such beautiful information with us. hope you will share more info about Moscow mule