Ask any random bargoer to name one thing about the Moscow Mule and—unless they just tell you it’s delish—they’ll point out that the drink is served in a copper mug. That tan serveware has become indelibly linked to the cocktail, and nearly any bar worth its weight in ginger beer will have a row of shiny mugs on the back bar solely devoted to the beverage. But the Moscow Mule has so much more to offer than its classic container. The Moscow Mule may look trendy on the outside in its copper getup, but it’s the drink’s inner beauty that truly makes it a beloved classic.
It Tastes Great in Any Glass
Setting aside anything you’ve heard from copper merchants, conspiracy theorists and cocktail snobs, the copper mug doesn’t actually affect the taste of the Mule. If anything, the copper may adversely affect your mule by causing your drink to warm up faster due to copper’s ability to conduct heat. Roll your drink on over from that copper mug to a standard highball, and you’ll soon realize the distinct taste is due entirely to the ingredients themselves.
It’s a Crowd-Pleaser
Don’t hate the Mule because it’s beautiful. The mug gimmick definitely contributed to the Moscow Mule’s ascension to the top of the bar order charts, but that doesn’t make the drink any less worthy of its popularity. The ginger beer’s sweet zip, a tantalizing hit of lime, and enough vodka to get the party started make the Mule a unanimous favorite among drinkers.
It’s Just a Three-Step Recipe
Comprised of only three ingredients, the Mule is a breeze to whip up in a jiffy, and you more than likely already have all the ingredients on hand whenever thirst strikes (assuming you’ve got a taste for ginger beer, that is). Plus, the drink is built right in the glass (copper or otherwise), so there’s no need to work yourself up by shaking ingredients in a shaker after a long day or dealing with a hefty cleanup. Give your Mule a nice swirl with your hand and you could even get away without a bar spoon, making the Mule the boozy equivalent of a one-pot meal.
You Can Freeze It or Jello It
It’s easy to recognize the tapestry of flavor woven from ginger beer and lime, so the Moscow Mule is an obvious candidate for an edible cocktail. Whether you’re making Moscow Mule Jello Shots or a Mule slushie, drinkers will instantly recognize their old friend from the bar in its new format.
It’s Easily Customizable
The Mule’s simplicity also makes it versatile, allowing you to personalize the drink to your tastes and the season. Drop fresh fruit straight from the summer farmer’s market into the cocktail, add other spices to complement the ginger during the winter, celebrate the spring bloom with some floral liqueurs or edible flowers, or go apple picking in the fall for some ripe red additions to your drink. The Mule is a year-round staple that’s never out of season.
Despite the name, the Moscow Mule was invented right here in the U.S. of A. The name is actually just a clever marketing scheme that exoticized vodka to a mid-century American drinker, and popularized Smirnoff in the process. The drink’s association with Russia has been both a boon and a hurdle for the cocktail depending on the temperature of American relations with the foreign nation, but if nothing else, it certainly gives the cocktail some character.
Its Origin is an Underdog Story
The inventors of the Moscow Mule supposedly concocted the recipe to use up several ingredients that failed to interest customers. Vodka had yet to establish any sort of foothold on the casual American’s palate, a proprietary ginger beer wouldn’t sell, and no one had any use for copper mugs. The Mule is the scrappy little cocktail that could, taking three bad products and spinning gold—er, copper—from them.
It Helped Make Ginger Beer Famous Again
During Prohibition, drinkers switched from dry, spicy ginger beer to the sweeter ginger ale to cover the taste of nasty, backroom hooch. The Mule helped bring the spicier mixer back to the LIMElight (get it?), and may be one reason we have so many wonderful ginger beer cocktails to choose from today.
It Delivers Some Doctor-Approved Ginger
The sugar in ginger beer probably disqualifies it as the next healthy tonic, but we won’t look down upon a helping of gut-boosting, anti-inflammatory ginger. Unlike other sugary drinks, which can leave you heavy, bloated and gloomy, a tall glass of fizzy, peppy Mule will make you feel energetic, limber and ready for anything (especially another glass).
It’s Become an Icon
Love it or hate it, the Moscow Mule is an absolute icon in the bar, up there with the Old Fashioned in its old-fashioned glass and the Martini in its Martini glass (or properly, a coupe). The Mule has a lasting impact on the bar scene and converted plenty of neophytes to a love of cocktails.
And Yes, the Mugs Are Cool, Too
They’re fun to hold, smell great in a comforting, metallic sort of way, and make you look like a rugged captain of industry when you’re drinking one. Haters gonna hate.