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The most stolen item  in Seattle area bars, like this one at Ba Bar. (Photo by Tan Vinh / The Seattle Times)
The most stolen item in Seattle area bars, like this one at Ba Bar. (Photo by Tan Vinh / The Seattle Times)

Some local watering holes may need to install metal detectors for those on the way out of the bar. Or at the very least relegate the new hire to copper-mug patrol duty. Or maybe train their doormen in the fine art of sniffing out copperware being spirited away, hidden in purses and trench coats.

Maybe a Moscow Mule user fee is in order.

I’m only half-joking because the theft of those lovely tankards is getting absurd. Seattle-area cocktail spots have lost as much as $1,000 worth of these vintage mugs.

If you are such a saint that you don’t frequent bars, let me explain. The Moscow Mule is one of the best-selling vodka cocktails (vodka, ginger beer, lime)  in the Seattle area, and it’s often served in a traditional, shiny copper vessel (a rather expensive one). You can check out the history of that mug  and the cocktail  here.  Patrons love ordering  this refreshing drink, especially during the summer, and many, it seems, pocket the mug as a souvenir. Andrew Friedman, co-owner of Liberty  on Capitol Hill estimates his bar loses up to  five a week.

Along the hip, bar-hopping strip of 12th Avenue,  Tavern Law is down to two mugs. So this speak-easy bar now serves the Moscow Mule cocktail in a Collins glass unless customers request the special mug.

Nearby, the cocktail den  Canon started 20 months ago with 30 vintage mugs and also has just two left. The policy now is you can only get your Moscow Mule in the vintage mug if you sit at the bar, where the bartenders can keep an eye on it.

At  Ba Bar, bartenders make about 50 Moscow Mules on a busy night. (It’s one of the best deals in the city. $5 on Sunday and Monday.)   So many mugs have been stolen that the bar now posts this:  “$35 extra if the mule mug ends up in your pocket or hand bag.”


The most stolen glassware in Seattle bars.
The most stolen glassware in Seattle bars.


In Belltown the bar Rob Roy has lost so many mugs that the bar owner sells it for $20. Still, folks  steal them. Now,  if you order the Moscow Mule, the Rob Roy staff requests you leave a credit card. You get your credit card back when they get their mug back.