The Legend of The Moscow Mule

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moscow mule drink

A cocktail is much more than a vehicle for alcohol. The true pleasure of drinking comes from the act of bringing people together. Strangers become friends, lovers meet and, occasionally, enemies spar. But all come together in pursuit of one thing: a fine beverage in convivial spirit.

You’re sure to have seen the iconic copper mugs wet with condensation, indicating the deliciousness inside. Enjoying a Moscow Mule is an American pastime and the rose gold cup is as much a part of the story as the cocktail itself.

But where did it all begin? The legend of the Moscow Mule begins with three simple ingredients: three vagabonds, some vodka, and a Polaroid.  

John Martin, an executive at the distributor Heublein, bought the rights to a floundering distillery named Smirnoff in the late 1930s. But he couldn’t get Americans to drink the stuff. Vodka was outshined back then by its more popular sisters, gin and whiskey. For years he couldn’t figure out a way to brand vodka to American taste. So, like many a man down and out, he went to his favorite bar to drown his sorrows.


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Jack Morgan owned a pub on Sunset Boulevard called Cock ‘N’ Bull where Martin was a regular. Morgan lamented over his new brand of ginger beer that was cased and sitting in the basement collecting dust. Ginger ale was a much more common drink back then than its brother ginger beer. (See where we’re going here?) Morgan and Martin, two defeated business owners decided to combine efforts and started dreaming up the perfect cocktail with vodka and ginger beer.

In walks Sophie Berezinski. Daughter of a Russian factory owner, Sophie came to America to sell her father’s shiny wares in the land of opportunity. After several unsuccessful sales pitches,  Sophie’s husband, Max, grew tired of living in an apartment cluttered with rust colored mugs. He told her to sell the mugs or they were destined for scrap. Sophie traipsed through Hollywood from bar to bar, desperate to sell her poor copper cups when bingo. Fate struck.

While Morgan and Martin fashioned a refreshing drink with a gingery punch, Sophie offered to sell them her Russian imports. What better way to sell a Russian liquor than a Russian mug? And that’s how the Moscow Mule was born. But how to spread the word? Martin, the sharpest of trendsetters, purchased a hot new invention, a Polaroid, and began photographing patrons enjoying the drink in the mug that made the Moscow Mule a recognizable symbol.

So when you have your next Moscow Mule, remember you’re taking part in a tradition. When your great grandparents ordered one in the 1940s, they would have enjoyed it in the same unique way. And it all started with a little persistence and ingenuity.



Modern Mule
1.5 oz Tito’s handmade vodka
Juice of half a lime
Ice
Fever Tree ginger beer


Preparation
Squeeze lime into 100% copper mug
Add Tito's handmade vodka
Add ice
Top with Fever Tree ginger beer
Garnish with a lime wheel


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