With the current resurgence of classic cocktails, it was only a matter of time before the venerable Moscow Mule hee-hawed its way onto bars across the country.
At the Cock ‘n’ Bull Bar in 1940s Hollywood, owner Jack Morgan’s overzealous purchasing resulted in a basement piled with cases of Smirnoff vodka stacked next to ginger beer, neither of which were popular at the time. Now stuck with two virtually unsellable products, head bartender Wes Price came up with the cocktail, reportedly served the first Moscow Mule to actor Broderick Crawford. As a result, the concoction rapidly gained popularity among Hollywood movie stars.
To promote the cocktail, Morgan had the Moscow Mules served in engraved copper mugs. Eventually John Martin, owner of Smirnoff’s distribution rights (and a friend of Morgan’s), used the mugs to promote the cocktail—and Smirnoff—in bars across the country.
Although its origin may seem disappointingly unromantic, the story of one bartender trying to move otherwise unsellable inventory is one most other bartenders are inclined to believe. In Price’s own words, “I just wanted to clean out the basement.”
The Moscow Mule is spicy and refreshing, with bold gingery fizz atop tart, citrusy lime.
Due to its popularity and simplicity, creative variations of the Moscow Mule were all but inevitable. A few variations using different spirits are listed below.
- Instead of vodka, use bourbon to make a Kentucky Mule.
- Replace vodka with white tequila (tequila blanco) for a Mexican Mule.
- Using Irish whiskey instead of vodka makes an Irish Mule.
- Replacing vodka with gin creates a London Mule. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)
The Moscow mule is right for any occasion, but its bright refreshing flavor practically screams “warm weather.” Some events even set out beautiful Moscow Mule bars, with bright copper mugs lined up atop white linen tablecloth.
- Warm weather/outdoor activities: Whether golfing, boating, grilling, or just sitting on the porch.
- Hosting parties: the Moscow Mule is appropriate for both casual and formal parties. For such purposes, a large batch can be pre-made (minus the ginger beer) ahead of time.
- Outdoor formal events: bright copper mugs, warm sunshine, big floppy sun hats, you get the idea.
As always, remember to enjoy Moscow Mules responsibly!
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