Moscow Mule – it sounds so Cold War Soviet Union. In fact, the cocktail was invented in the early 1940s by two American drinks distributors.
On 28 July 1948, it was reported in the New York Herald Tribune:
“The mule was born in Manhattan but ‘stalled’ on the West Coast for the duration. The birthplace of ‘Little Moscow’ was in New York’s Chatham Hotel. That was back in 1941 when the first carload of Jack Morgan’s Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer was railing over the plains to give New Yorkers a happy surprise. Here was ginger beer in crockery bottles tasting exactly like that of old England.”
“Three friends were in the Chatham bar, one John A. Morgan, known as Jack, president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products and owner of the Hollywood Cock ‘n’ Bull Restaurant; one was John G. Martin, president of G. F. Heublein Brothers, Inc. of Hartford, Conn., and the third was Rudolph Kunett, president of the Pierre Smirnoff, Heublein’s vodka division. As Jack Morgan tells it, ‘We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d’oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius.’ Martin and Kunett had their minds on their vodka and wondered what would happen if a two-ounce shot joined with Morgan’s ginger beer and the squeeze of a lime. Ice was ordered, limes procured, mugs ushered in and the concoction put together. Cups were raised, the men counted five and down went the first taste. It was good. It lifted the spirit to adventure. Four or five later the mixture was christened the Moscow Mule… and for a number of obvious reasons. “
The exact reason why Moscow Mules are traditionally drunk out of copper mugs is a bit lost in time. However, the material certainly suits this cocktail – the metal keeps the drink colder for longer, necessitating less ice. And it apparently makes the acidic lime taste sharper.
I’d happily quaff Moscow Mules from any of three of the mug collections above. But I’d choose the hammered version over the other two. Firstly, I like my mugs with a handle – there are no freezing (or burning, if glugging Glühwein) fingers to contend with. Additionally, I know it goes against what I’ve just said, but the hammered body is so tactile…
- Copper Moscow Mule mugs (set of 4): $63, Food52
- Set of 6 pure hammered copper Moscow Mule mugs: £83.25, Amazon
- Tom Dixon Plum Moscow Mule glasses, set of 2: £55, John Lewis