Once a curious footnote, the Moscow Mule, which turns 75 this year, is now one of the most common drinks on the planet. Snobs may sniff at it, but few drinks have so completely benefited from the current cocktail revival.

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Ten years ago, I attended a seminar on the history of vodka at Tales of the Cocktail, the annual New Orleans convention. The moderator mentioned a cocktail named the Moscow Mule as “the drink that started it all” — that is, vodka’s popularity in the United States. Invented in 1941, the drink was a mix of vodka, lime juice and ginger beer, typically served in a copper mug.

I had never heard of it.

Last year, in a nothing-special bar in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., (population 9,500 or so), I sat with my niece, who had recently reached drinking age. She struggled over what to order. The waitress suggested, “How about a Moscow Mule?”

Once a curious footnote, the Moscow Mule, which turns 75 this year, is now one of the most common drinks on the planet. Snobs may sniff at it, but few drinks have so completely benefited from the current cocktail revival.

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On a recent episode of “Better Call Saul,” a lawyer orders a Moscow Mule over lunch. The traditional mugs, once rare antiques, can be bought at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Not far from Sturgeon Bay in the even-tinier town of Ellison Bay, Mike Holmes, owner and bar manager of the Wickman House restaurant, recently ordered a new batch of mugs. The cocktail is so popular, he said, that whenever one person orders a Moscow Mule, there is a run on the drink.

How does a cocktail go from obscurity to ubiquity in a decade? That the mule is one of the few classic cocktails made with vodka helps; the industry has promoted it heavily.

“We’ve really seen it rise in popularity on the coasts three or four years ago,” said Nick Guastaferro, brand director for Absolut vodka in the United States, “and we saw it as a way to focus our cocktail strategy on the mule.”

That strategy includes educating bartenders and consumers about the drink, campaigning to get it onto bar menus, and providing bars with those pricey copper cups. (Look at your mug next time you order one; chances are, there is a vodka brand’s logo on it.)

GuestMetrics, a data analytics firm that tracks consumer spending, reports that Moscow Mule menu placements in 2015 rose 60 percent over the previous year. Requests for the drink constituted more than 7 percent of all cocktail orders last year, making it nearly as popular as the Bloody Mary and the mojito.

Appropriately, the story of the Moscow Mule’s origin is a tale of pure capitalism. As the legend goes, John Martin, president of Heublein, who was trying to persuade Americans to drink his Smirnoff vodka, met up with Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub on the Sunset Strip, who made a ginger beer drinkers were equally uninterested in. (Some versions of the story include a third purveyor of unwanted goods: copper mugs. Additionally, cocktail historian David Wondrich says the drink may have been hatched by Martin and Morgan in New York, even if it took flight in Los Angeles. Cocktail history is about as clear as the rocks glasses in a dive bar.)

The resulting drink took off among the Hollywood crowd.

Its comeback makes some principled mixologists sigh. “As a cocktail, it’s fine,” said Colin Shearn, who has worked in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Louisville, Ky., fielding countless orders for mules in each city. “It’s not a bad drink. I just feel like it’s symbolic with everything that is wrong with American drinking habits. The people who I see drinking it these days, they know they’re supposed to be drinking something cool and craft. But they’re still set in their own ways to not move beyond vodka.”

Not all mules these days are made with vodka, though. Bartenders are applying the recipe to any spirit, from Spanish brandy (at Whisler’s in Austin, Texas) to bourbon (at the Silver Dollar in Louisville). Porchlight, in the West Chelsea section of Manhattan, offers a frozen version with aquavit, banana liqueur and coconut.

As Shearn grudgingly admitted: “Spirit, ginger, lime, bubbles, those are all great things. The template is foolproof.”

MULA ESPAÑOL

Makes 1 drink

 

2 ounces Spanish brandy, preferably Lustau Solera Reserva

½ ounce ginger liqueur, preferably Domaine de Canton

½ ounce fresh lemon juice

1 bar spoon dry sherry, preferably Lustau East India Solera

3 ounces ginger beer, preferably Ginger People

Candied ginger, for garnish

 

In a cocktail shaker three-quarters filled with ice, combine all the liquid ingredients except the beer, and shake until chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into a copper mug or Tom Collins glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with the candied ginger.

 

MOSCOW MULE

Makes 1 drink

 

2 ounces vodka

½ ounce fresh lime juice

3 ounces ginger beer, preferably Fever Tree

Lime wedge, for garnish

 

In a cocktail shaker three-quarters filled with ice, combine vodka and lime juice and shake until chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into a mug, preferably copper, filled with crushed ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with lime.

 

KENTUCKY MULE

Makes 1 drink

 

2 ounces bourbon, preferably Wild Turkey 101

1 ounce ginger syrup

½ ounce lime juice

 

Fill a mug, preferably copper, three-quarters full with crushed ice. In a cocktail shaker three-quarters filled with ice cubes, shake all ingredients for 15 seconds and strain into the mug. Top with more crushed ice.