The Strange Reason The Moscow Mule Was Invented

The Moscow Mule is either a cocktail classic or a seriously overrated tipple, depending on who you ask. When Brit + Co asked Washington DC bartender Dave Lanzalone for tips on ordering a drink like an adult, he suggested the Moscow Mule as an ideal go-to once you've gotten comfortable with the skill level of your bartender, a step-up from a basic cocktail like a vodka soda or a Jack and Coke. On the other hand, a Thrillist article about underrated and overrated cocktails featuring the opinions of experienced bartenders is entitled "The Moscow Mule Sucks."

Love it or hate it, the Moscow Mule is an established cocktail for a reason... it just may not be the reason you think! The cocktail recipe isn't difficult to make, even for a novice. It's vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice served over ice in a copper mug. That's all there is to it. And that mug, by the way, is one of the reasons bartender Eric Alperin told Thrillist the Moscow Mule is overrated. Those mugs become a headache due to a tendency to walk out the front door. But why was the Moscow Mule created in the first place?

Necessity is also the mother of the Moscow Mule

In 1941 in Hollywood, California, at a restaurant called the Cock 'n Bull, owner Jack Morgan faced a challenge (via Cock 'n Bull Premium Soda). Morgan wanted to sell the new housemade ginger beer the restaurant had developed, and he'd also been approached by John Martin of Heublein, a spirits distributor facing a similar challenge, namely marketing a new vodka to Americans who overwhelmingly preferred sipping whiskey or gin.

The official story is that the Moscow Mule was born as a brilliant marketing campaign, launching both the ginger beer and the vodka, a then-unknown brand called Smirnoff, into prominence. Food & Wine has a slightly different spin, though, explaining that Morgan found himself with cases of Smirnoff and ginger beer he was unable to sell through. As the best bartenders do, Wes Price, Cock 'n Bull's bartender at the time, was "just trying to clear out the basement." And those distinctive copper mugs? Simply a function of Russian immigrant Sophie Berezinski being in the right place at the right time. She'd brought 2,000 copper mugs that she'd designed in Russia and was peddling them around "lest her husband toss them in a trash heap." The Cock 'n Bull team wanted something to make their new drink memorable, and the copper mugs were just the thing.

Try transitioning your Moscow Mules into autumn with our delicious fall-inspired version that calls for fresh apple cider and a cinnamon stick.