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History of Moscow Mule

By Chris M. on Jan 28, 2016

A Moscow mule is an alcoholic cocktail made with high end vodka, spicy ginger beer, and a lime. It is traditionally served over ice, in a copper mug. The drink first became popular in the United States during the 1950s.



The drink was first invented in 1941. During this time, vodka was not popular in the United States and was more popular in Russia. John G. Martin, the creator of the Moscow mule, brought a bottle of Smirnoff vodka to the United States hoping to sell it in a local bar. He had purchased this expensive bottle of vodka from a poor Russian man hoping to sell it for a profit. He found himself unable to sell the bottle because very few people in the United States had heard of or tasted vodka. A friend of his who owned a bar also had a similar problem but with ginger beer. The bar owner decided to create a cocktail using both vodka and ginger beer. A third party donated some copper mugs she no longer wanted, so the drink was served in a copper mug. Surprisingly, this cocktail soon became very popular. Over time, this helped vodka become more widely accepted, and popular in the United States. Most signature cocktails are served in a signature glass, bottle, or mug; a copper mug became traditional for the Moscow mule. The name of the drink was chosen arbitrarily, however Moscow is thought to have been chosen because the vodka in the cocktail was associated with Russia. It is uncertain where the “mule” in the name comes from but some speculate it is because the ginger beer adds a kick of flavor to the drink. The Moscow mule was the most popular in Los Angeles, California, which is where the drink originated. The popularity of the drink faded in the 1960s, but the drink has recently grown in popularity again. Historically the Moscow mule is one of the most successfully marketed cocktails in history. Despite the Moscow mule’s popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, the Moscow mule is rarely seen today outside of vintage magazines. Recently in 1996 it was reintroduced in a Smirnoff gold bottle.

Works Cited

“Behind the Drink: The Moscow Mule.” Liquor.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2016. <http://www.liquor.com/articles/behind-the-drink-the-Moscow-mule/#gs.B23tJy8>.

“History of the Moscow Mule.” Boozenews. N.p., 30 Apr. 2009. Web. 07 July 2016. <https://boozenews.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/history-of-the-Moscow-mule/>.

“The Legend of the Moscow Mule: The Copper Cup That Could.” N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2016. <http://www.copper.org/consumers/arts/2007/august/Moscow_Mule.html>.

Thomson, Julie R. “Why In The World Is It Called A Moscow Mule, Anyway?” The Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/21/Moscow-mule-name-origin_n_6192224.html>.