Moscow Mule

Moscow mule recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
  • Yield: 1 cocktail

The Moscow mule is a spectacular drink, but it's also incredibly simple. There are no big secrets to making a great Moscow mule—all you need are vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice (no shaking required). This easy vodka cocktail has a snappy spice that is unique, refreshing, and invigorating.

The Moscow mule recipe dates to World War II and is one of the hottest bar drinks in the world. It's a wonderful, casual mixed drink that's great for any occasion—from happy hour to a big party. If you want to go the traditional route, serve your Moscow mule in a copper mug. In addition to making a handsome drink, the mug takes on the temperature of the cocktail and keeps it well chilled. Some even believe that it adds a nice flavor to the drink. If you don't have copper mugs handy, the drink is still refreshing in a normal glass.

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Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice (fresh)
  • Ice cubes
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • Garnish: lime wedge

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Moscow mule
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Pour the vodka and lime juice into a copper mug, stainless steel mug, or collins glass filled with ice cubes.

    Ice in cup
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Top off with the ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge.

    Top with ginger beer
    ​The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • It's hard to go wrong with your choice of vodka in this drink. There are many budget-friendly brands that make a Moscow mule as good as any of the premium vodkas. Pour your favorite and see which you enjoy best.
  • Fresh lime juice is preferred in any cocktail, and it does make a big difference in this recipe, adding a nice sour kick to the flavor. For ease, squeeze the juice from half a lime or two lime wedges (to taste) directly into the glass.

The Ginger Beer

Many people, including bartenders, have been making the Moscow mule with ginger ale or citrus soda for years. If you want to keep it authentic, then this cocktail requires ginger beer. Contrary to the name, most ginger beer is not alcoholic. It's a spicier version of ginger ale, typically made with real ginger. The vodka and lime are mere complements to the spicy brew, and until you drink the cocktail with ginger beer, you have not had an authentic Moscow mule.

The other sodas are a nice way to enjoy vodka. Technically, if you pour ginger ale, you're making more of a vodka buck. With lemon-lime and club sodas, it's a vodka press. Club soda alone simply becomes a vodka soda.

The great news is that you will find many impressive ginger beers to choose from and the options are increasing all the time—thanks in large part to this particular drink. Each brand varies in the ginger's intensity as well as the sweetness. Some have a softer spice that is reminiscent of ginger ale, while others are very strong and unforgettable. Two ginger beers that were developed specifically for cocktails like this are Q Ginger Beer and Fever-Tree Ginger Beer. Both make an excellent mule and fall right in the middle of the extremes.

How Strong Is the Moscow Mule?

The average Moscow mule is fairly tame, though it will vary with more or less ginger beer. If you pour an 80-proof vodka with 4 ounces of ginger beer, the alcohol content is just 11 percent ABV (22 proof). In general, it's equivalent to the average glass of wine.

The Moscow Mule's History

Along with the likes of the white Russian, the Moscow mule was designed to sell vodka to U.S. drinkers in the mid-20th century. Before that time, vodka was relatively unknown to Americans, though it didn't take long for them to fall in love with the clear spirit.

There are a couple of claims to the creation of the Moscow mule. One dates to 1939 at the Cock 'n Bull pub in Hollywood. The story goes that the bar's owner, Jack Morgan, partnered up with Smirnoff owner John Martin to promote the vodka along with the bar's housemade ginger beer. Apparently, it was a winning situation for the team because both beverage brands are alive and well today.

Another story jumps ahead to 1941 at the same bar when the head bartender, Wes Price, needed to unload some liquor stock that wasn't selling. This successful promotion was enhanced by a marketing campaign in which a Moscow mule made with Smirnoff was served in copper mugs. The mugs became the drink's trademark vessel, the campaign was a success for the Russian vodka, and the mule was a smash hit.

The drink came back into the spotlight in the 21st century. This resurgence introduced a new generation of drinkers to the great taste of the Moscow mule. It has also led to a few misconceptions, including the prolific use of ginger ale.

Recipe Variations

Since this is such a popular cocktail, it's no surprise that it has served as inspiration for many more drink recipes. It's the perfect base for experimentation, and you can really have fun playing with its flavors.

  • In the Stoli alibi, the ginger beer is swapped out for a combination of ginger simple syrup and club soda. This results in a sweeter, less spicy drink.
  • Switch your vodka out for gin, and you have the classic foghorn.
  • Add dimension by muddling a little mint into the foghorn and enjoy the popular gin-gin mule.
  • Warm things up in winter with pear vodka and ginger beer to create a steaming Christmas mule.
  • Perfect for autumn, adding apple cider to the basic mule formula creates a wonderful apple cinnamon mule.