When we talk about modern cocktails, we often visualise the elegance of tall flute glasses and the aristocracy of sombre colours and tender notes. If there is one drink that stands out in the list of chic sparkles, it is the rather regal look, the atypical taste, and the refreshing quaff of the Moscow Mule. This American creation mixes vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice garnished with a fresh wedge of lime. Though the drink is traditionally served in copper mugs, which keeps it chilled for long, modern servings also include pouring the mix on ice in highball glasses.
It is widely acknowledged that the Moscow Mule originated in America in 1941 at the Cock n’ Bull pub in Manhattan. As the story goes, John Martin, the head of GF Heublein and Brothers, had acquired the floundering Smirnoff Vodka distillery in the 1930s. However, Martin was not successful with this sudden takeover as the Americans were not interested in Russian vodka at all. For Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock n’ Bull pub and a restaurant by the same name in Hollywood, it was a gargantuan task to introduce Americans to his own brand of ginger beer, as the locals refused to venture beyond the traditional brew.
As the story continues, a Russian immigrant Sophie Berezinski had imported 2,000 copper mugs, designed by her, and manufactured by her father’s Moscow Copper Co., to the United States. Desperately in search of a buyer for the mugs, she chanced upon the Cock n’ Bull pub on the fateful evening of 1941 where Martin and Morgan were also contemplating the future of their drinks. Sophie’s copper mugs intrigued the gentlemen who discussed for hours with her to master a new drink that would incorporate each of their products. After several trials, they created a perfectly chilled mixture that bewildered everyone with its sheer flavours and balance of tonics, and the Moscow Mule was born.
However, renowned journalist Eric Felton in a 2007 article demystified the marketing strategies behind the Moscow Mule’s existing narratives and suggested that it was Wes Price, Cock n’ Bull’s head bartender, who created the drink out of a need to clear the pub’s cellar filled with unsold ginger beer and vodka. Today, there are as many as two dozen variations of the popular American creation—the French Mule, the Bohemian Mule, the Irish Mule, and the Jamaican Mule are only to name a few.