Drink of the Week: Moscow Mule

By Paul Nelson

A couple of years ago my wife and I were able to get away by ourselves for a week. We headed up the coast to San Francisco and enjoyed time in that city and the beautiful country north of there. After a long day of walking around the city to see the sights, we found ourselves in the financial district. It was on a weekend so it was fairly deserted. We were pleased to stumble upon Harrington’s Bar and Grill, a delightful little pub in a historic building. 

Here it was that I first encountered the Moscow Mule. Traditionally served in a copper mug, this drink is credited to a liquor distributor in 1941. John G. Martin was selling Smirnoff vodka and so popularized the stunt of serving the drink in a copper mug. The drink became popular first in Los Angeles, and seems to be enjoying a revival in recent years. I had never heard of it until a few years ago, but now I see the mugs in many bars and restaurants around town.

  • 2 ounces of vodka (the higher quality, the better tasting)
  • 1 oz of fresh lime juice
  • Ginger beer to top (roughly 6 oz or so)

I usually make this right in the copper mug (you can buy these online or from places like Cost Plus World Market). Fill the mug with ice, add the vodka and lime juice and top with ginger beer. Stir together. It’s refreshing, with the ginger beer providing a nice bite. It’s a really good summer drink, so hurry up and have one before it gets too cold!

Ginger beer is actually a fermented drink made with ginger, yeast and sugar. You can find it sometimes in the beer section, sometimes in the soft drink section, sometimes in the juice section, and sometimes in the natural/organic section of a grocery store. A well-stocked liquor store should have some. I like Reed’s but Cock n’ Bull is also very good (and was the first ginger beer involved with the Moscow Mule). Ginger ale, on the other hand, is not fermented, but rather is carbonated water with natural or artificial ginger flavoring added. Once you’ve had ginger beer, it will be hard to go back to ginger ale!