Now, I’ve never been to Moscow.
Aaaaaand I’ve never ridden a mule.
Hell, I don’t know that I’ve ever even been around a mule.
But I do know a thing or two about Moscow Mules.
Wonderful cocktail, weird name.
Why do I love this drink so much?
Because this is the perfect “in between drink.”
It’s a step up from regular highballs like a gin and tonic or a rum and coke – which admittedly usually don’t have much fanfare around them. You throw them together quickly, you drink them at dive bars, they don’t feel like elevated cocktails.
Interestingly, in the early days of the Moscow Mule, it was more of a highball rather than a sour style drink. It basically was vodka and ginger beer with just a squeeze of lime over the top.
It’s in between. You can make one in seconds, it feels fancy and like a “craft cocktail”, and it’s a drink that nearly everyone likes.
But there are still some things you need to know if you want to do it right and make a delicious Moscow Mule.
Ingredients in a Moscow Mule
One of the best parts of this cocktail is the fact that it’s simple to prepare – there are only three ingredients:
- Vodka – Any mid range and better vodka will work. See below for my favorites
- Ginger Beer – Don’t go cheap here.
- Lime Juice – Fresh squeezed ALWAYS.
That’s it. There are different schools of thought on ratios, but fortunately, even if your ratios are a little off, you’ll still have a tasty drink.
It’s always nice to have a forgiving cocktail like this in your back pocket that you also know your guests are likely to love.
Why Do You Serve Moscow Mules in a Copper Mug?
In my recent Mint Julep recipe I talked about how I’m a sucker for any cocktail that has it’s own signature glass – and the Moscow Mule is one of the most well known cocktails to do this.
But why is it served in a copper cup? It’s probably not for the reason you think.
A vodka baron, a bartender, and a copper manufacturer’s daughter walk into a bar…
John Martin bought Smirnoff in the 30’s, but was learning the hard way that American’s weren’t really into vodka at the time.
Jack Morgan owned the Cock ‘n’ Bull bar in L.A. and had recently launched his own ginger beer brand. It also was not going very well.
And finally the daughter of a copper manufacturer in Russia had imported a bunch of copper mugs that nobody wanted.
This unlikely trio met up, and a new classic was born: the Moscow Mule.
Although, despite the name, it was a decidedly American creation.
How to Make a Moscow Mule
Like I said, the Moscow Mule is easy to make.
Part of this drink’s appeal is the fact you don’t need to shake it or build it in a cocktail glass.
To make a Moscow Mule you:
- Get a copper mug
- Add 2oz of vodka
- 1/2 oz of fresh lime juice
- Fill the glass with
- Add 4oz ginger beer
- Stir for 5 seconds
That’s it! The only thing that makes this drink even the slightest bit difficult, is that to do it properly you want to have a copper mug. You can buy some cheap ones on Amazon here.
Honestly, it sounds weird, but it really does make a huge difference when it’s a hot summer day and your drinking mules. The copper conducts heat well, and do it helps keep the drink icy cold longer than a regular glass does.
Best Type of Ginger Beer for a Moscow Mule
In my opinion the ginger beer you use is the most important part of a Moscow Mule (or any mule variation).
The ginger beer has a strong flavor, so it will do a good job masking any intricacies of your particular spirit. Because it’s so strong, if you choose a low quality brand, your drink simply won’t taste as good.
I’ve tested a lot of different ginger beers, and my favorite is still Fever Tree.
I also like Q and occasionally Reeds “Stronger” if I want something with more of a kick, but generally Fever Tree is where it’s at.
It’s probably a few bucks more than some brands on the store shelf, but once you take your first sip of that delicious vodka concoction, you’ll be glad you spent the extra money.
You can usually buy it in 17oz bottles or in 4 packs of 7oz bottles.
The former is the better deal, and if you know you’ll be making a handful of them over the course of 24 hours, I’d pick up bottles of that. However, if you’re just looking to make one or two at a time, go for the smaller bottles, as they won’t go flat.
And there’s no faster way to ruin a Moscow Mule than to serve it with flat ginger beer.
Best Vodka for a Moscow Mule
The best vodkas for a Moscow Mule are:
- Kettle One
- Grey Goose (if you want to go really fancy)
Any of those will work great.
Here’s the thing about the Moscow Mule, you’re not really going to be able to taste the vodka.
Sure there’s a bit of a kick (get it, mule? Kick? I’ll see myself out), but generally the ginger will overpower the vodka, which isn’t exactly flavorful in it’s own right.
So it’s not like you need to bust out your finest grey goose for a Moscow Mule.
I mean sure, you could, and your guests might be impressed. But frankly for half the price you can use Stoli, Svedka, Absolut, or any of those $10-15 bottles and it will taste great.
Personally right now I’m using Reyka vodka for my mules.
Moscow Mule Variations
One of the great things about the Moscow Mule, is once you know how to make it, you can very quickly and easily make variations on it based on your guests personal preferences.
In fact, there’s pretty much a different type of mule for every base spirit.
- Kentucky Mule – Use bourbon instead of vodka
- Mexican Mule – Use Tequila instead of vodka
- Gin Mule – Use gin instead of vodka
- Dark and Stormy – Use dark rum instead of vodka
- Oaxacan Mule – Use mezcal instead of vodka
Literally follow the exact same recipe as a regular Moscow mule and just switch out the spirit
You can no doubt go find any number of food blogs that have all sorts of tricked up variations of their own, but the ones above are standard issue, and are delicious cocktails in their own right.
Moscow Mule (A Fan Favorite)
- Copper Mug
- 2 oz Vodka
- .5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 4 oz Ginger Beer We prefer Fever Tree
- Combine lime juice and vodka in copper mug
- Add Ice
- Pour ginger beer over ice
- Stir for 3 seconds.
Looking for More Cocktails to Make
If you enjoy the Moscow Mule and want another refreshing cocktail that is easy to serve for guests, here are a few I’d try.
- Classic Daiquiri – You’ll need to bust out the shaker, but you can do 2 or 3 at a time and it’s a way of feeling classy without a ton of effort
- Strawberry Lemonade Cocktail – Similar to a mule in that you can add any base spirit (or none at all!) and still have a delicious drink
- Margarita – There are a million and one ways to make a margarita, but this one is pretty damn good.