When the Moscow Mule showed up on Better Call Saul I knew it was time to stock up on ginger beer. That scene and the current trendiness of copper accents have created an explosion in the popularity of this cocktail. It doesn’t hurt that a variety decent ginger beers are suddenly widely available. Maybe we can just attribute it to the fact that it is a delicious and approachable classic cocktail.
The Moscow Mule is one of the few classic cocktail recipes created as a liquor marketing exercise. In fact, the Moscow Mule is often said to be the reason vodka is the best-selling spirit in the world. For all it’s success, the story is one of the least romantic tales in the liquor industry.
The story is John Martin, the American distributor of Smirnoff was drinking with Jack Morgan, owner of Cock ‘n’ Bull brand ginger beer. They decided to mix Smirnoff with some Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer and a squeeze of lemon. The rest, as they say, is history.
Of course, there is another story. This is drunk history after all. Facts are often blurry when history and booze mix. In the alternate version, Wes Price created the drink. Price was the head bartender at Morgan’s Cock and Bull restaurant in Los Angeles. He said he just wanted to clear out dead stock of Smirnoff in the basement. Knowing how dead stock is the mother of invention, and credit tends to accrue to the top of the food chain, this version seems pretty plausible to me.
In any case, Martin was certainly responsible for the popularity of the drink. In an effort to sell more vodka he traveled the country taking polaroids of bartenders holding a copper mug and a bottle of Smirnoff. He would then show the photos to the next bartender down the road as evidence of the popularity of the Mule. Kind of a proto-Instagram.
Moscow Mule Recipe
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 4 oz ginger beer
- lime wheel and fresh mint to garnish
- Fill cocktail shaker with ice.
- Pour ingredients into shaker and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
- Strain into Collins glass or copper mug filled with crushed ice.
- Garnish with mint sprig and line wheel.