In the pantheon on all time classic drinks, the Moscow Mule is a bit of an unwanted stepchild. Not as sexy as a Martini, not as locally revered as a Sazerac, and being a product of the post-Prohibition era, not as errr, old as an Old Fashioned. Invented in the early 40’s, the Mule was the brainchild of a bartender at a pub called Cock n’ Bull, who’s boss had a problem (don’t they all?). He had entirely too much ginger beer, and his buddy had recently acquired a vodka brand that no one was drinking (Side note: less than a century ago noooobody drank vodka in America.). A few minutes later the bartender, doing what every good bartender does, comes back with a concoction in a copper mug (also a completely accidental stroke of branding genius)… bingo bango, a modern classic was born. Or so the story goes, and like any good cocktail story- add a dash of this detail, substitute a bit of this story…somewhere in there is more or less what happened.
As fast as the Mule rose in fame, it nearly died out forever with the one-two combination of the Cold War and Disco, but like Rasputin, the Moscow Mule refused to die. It just went underground until cocktail nerds “rediscovered” it and put this cocktail back on the proverbial pedestal. And judging by it’s ubiquity on every menu in every bar across the land…It’s probably back to stay this time.
The key to Mule’s popularity is twofold- it’s damn delicious (who doesn’t like lime and ginger with bubbles and a kick?), and it’s easily modified. Muddle some strawberries in there, boom- Strawberry Mule. Add a spot of Montenegro to give it an elegant touch. Feelin’ extra saucy? Swap the vodka for tequila. The possibilities are endless. This is what intrigued bartender extraordinaire Brian Prugalidad to create his ‘Mule as a Cucumber’, which will be featured in an upcoming book by the good people who bring us Tales of the Cocktail every year in New Orleans. Prugalidad adds a bit of Ancho Reyes and his own black peppercorn syrup to spice things up, and a few slices of cucumber to cool it back down. For the full recipe, visit us at Just Make Me Something.
But if you’re not ready to venture out into the realm of Mule variations (Muletations? Hmmm..), here’s a recipe for a straight-forward mule we like:
2 oz. Vodka (We like Boyd and Blair. A lot.)
¾ oz Fresh lime juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
2 dashed Angostura bitters
3-4 oz Ginger Beer (Bundaberg is tasty)
Garnish lime wheel
Add all your ingredients (except the ginger beer- trust me on this one) to your shaker with some ice and get jiggy with it. Strain it out and top with your ginger beer. If you want to feel extra pro, add the ginger beer to your shaker once your done shaking. The pouring and straining into the glass will mix it nicely for you.
Norcal Spirits Specialist for the Henry Wine Group and Co-Founder/Contributor at JustMakeMeSomething.com.