Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule
The Spruce
  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail (1 serving)

The Moscow mule is a refreshing and easy vodka cocktail featuring ginger beer. It has a snappy spice that is unique, refreshing, and invigorating; it's utterly spectacular in its simplicity.

The recipe dates to around World War II and has seen a massive resurgence in popularity in recent years. It's a wonderful drink that is perfectly casual, so it's great for any occasion—from happy hour to a party. After one taste, you'll find out why it's one of the hottest bar drinks throughout the world.

This is also one of the easiest drinks you can make. The original Moscow mule requires just three easy-to-find ingredients—vodka, ginger beer, and lime—and it's fun to find a combination that's customized to your personal taste. Beyond that, it's a great base for new recipes that are just as exciting as the original.

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Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce lime juice (fresh)
  • 4 ounces ginger beer (or enough to fill)
  • Garnish: lime wedge

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Pour the vodka and lime juice into a highball glass with ice cubes.

  3. Top off with the ginger beer.

  4. Garnish with a lime wedge.

  5. Serve and enjoy!

Tips

  • If you would like to go the traditional route, serve your Moscow mule in a copper mug. Some mule mugs are silver, though the drink is just as good in a normal glass.
  • 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 that punches up the flavor. One average-sized lime should give you the perfect amount of juice for one drink.

The Ginger Beer

Many people, including bartenders, were taught that the Moscow mule is made with ginger ale or citrus soda. If you want to keep it authentic, then this cocktail requires ginger beer. The vodka and lime are mere complements to the spicy brew and until you drink it with ginger beer, you have not completely experienced this drink.

The other sodas are a nice way to enjoy vodka. However, if you pour one (or both) of those, you'll actually be creating more of a vodka press cocktail.

The great news is that there are many impressive ginger beers to choose from. The options are increasing all the time too, thanks in large part to this particular drink. Each will vary in the ginger's intensity as well as sweetness. Some have a softer spice that is more reminiscent of ginger ale, while others are very strong, poignant, 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 have a nice balance between the mild and spicy.

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, then the alcohol content is a very mild 11 percent ABV (22 proof). Generally, think of it as 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 that vodka along with the bar's housemade ginger beer. Apparently, it was a win-win situation for the team because both 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 an entirely 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 modern mule variations, ginger beer is almost always included. Some recipes switch out the vodka and others add extra flavors or heat things up.

  • 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 a classic highball called the foghorn.
  • Add dimension to the gin-based foghorn by muddling a little mint into the drink and enjoy the popular gin gin mule. The cooling herb's flavor is a delightful contrast to a great ginger beer.
  • Warm things up in winter with pear vodka and ginger beer to create a steaming drink in the Christmas mule.
  • Perfect for autumn, adding apple cider to the basic mule formula creates a wonderful apple cinnamon mule.