Elements of a Great Moscow Mule

December 26, 2017 (Last Updated: October 3, 2020) - As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

For the past week, we have been examining the Moscow Mule and we have also looked at the history of the cocktail. We know that a basic Moscow Mule is a mixture of ice, vodka, ginger beer, and lime served in a copper mug. But what makes a great Moscow Mule? What captures the essence and spirit of the drink? Today we are going to examine the individual elements of the drink and put a little thought into what makes a great Moscow Mule.

The History is important

Three people sat at a bar table on Sunset Strip in 1940 to come up with the Moscow Mule. The owner of Smirnoff Vodka, the owner of Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer, and the owner of a copper mine were all sitting there working on making a drink and the Moscow Mule was the result. After examining the history of the cocktail, I cannot ignore its origin when talking about a great Moscow Mule. The beginnings of this drink really is about brands. It also helps mark the beginning of the popularity of vodka in America, but it was brought there by the minds behind Smirnoff Vodka and Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer. The final touch was the addition of a copper mug produced by Ozaline Schmidt, which really made this drink a unique one.

So, while considering the ingredients of this drink, I feel I could not capture the spirit of this cocktail without considering those facts.

Vodka in a Great Moscow Mule

What vodka should we use in our Moscow Mule? Why, Smirnoff, of course. I suppose there are going to be some Vodka aficionados out there that would choose a different vodka. Hey, make your Moscow Mule with whatever vodka you want, but I am going to do my best to bring myself to that Cock ‘n Bull bar table back in 1940. Two fellas and a gal sitting around, hungry to make their respective businesses work. They were going to make their businesses work by drinking booze, of course.

I believe the best choice in constructing my great, and accurate, Moscow Mule is Smirnoff vodka!

Ginger Beer Selection

Just as a teaser, we are going to be making our own ginger beer in an upcoming post and showing you how to do the same. If you are a DIY kind of person, it is kind of fun and pretty simple. Today, however, we are keeping that table at the Cock ‘N Bull in mind.

There is a Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer that exists today. It is not 100% clear to me if it is the very same brand that existed in the 1940s, but I appreciate that they are working to honor the past and origins of ginger beer and the Moscow Mule. For that reason, I am using Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer in my Moscow Mule recipe.

The Rest of the Stuff

For ice, it is ok to use your normal freezer ice for this cocktail. I have a fancy ice cube tray that makes really large ice cubes for drinking the likes of Old Fashioneds and Whiskey straight, but that is not needed today. In terms of limes, use the real ones.

Finally, the copper mugs. Yes, a copper mug is the traditional glassware for this drink. Yes, there is some evidence that suggests this might be poisonous. My thought on the matter is that I don’t drink Moscow Mules every night and there is conflicting evidence, so I am just gonna drink out of my copper mugs. So what, who cares?


The summary is that for our great Moscow Mule, we are going to stick to the ingredients AND brands that the originators intended. As always, drink whatever the hell you want, but part of my purpose here is to help find the essence of the cocktail. For the Moscow Mule, the essence was sitting in a Hollywood lounge circa 1940 with the owner of Smirnoff Vodka and Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer.

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  • Reply
    December 26, 2017 at 11:40 am

    I love a good Moscow mule, even when I don’t have the right kind of cup!

    • Reply
      December 26, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      ha! Yup.

  • Reply
    Kelly @ trial and eater
    December 26, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    My family makes moscow mules a lot for get-togethers. These are great tips! Making homemade ginger beer is a lot of fun too!

    • Reply
      December 26, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      You must have a great family! 😉

  • Reply
    Amy Nash
    December 26, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I love that your mission is to find the essence behind the recipe and explain the feel and meaning behind it. It makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable for me, personally, to know those details.

    • Reply
      December 26, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks! I really like that, as well. I mean, there are LOT’S of great recipes out there that are not the original, but I feel knowing what a thing IS allows me to be better about appreciating the simple recipe, as well as all the other recipes.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you for sharing great tips! Bookmarked.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I haven’t tried mule before. I love the the background story to this. I am bit light headed with alcohol but I bet my husband would love this

    • Reply
      December 26, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Well, then get your husband on it! Thanks for visiting!

  • Reply
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