Ginger ale is a common mixer in many cocktails. Its subtle ginger flavor blends well with many different spirits. Some people like a little bigger punch of ginger. Ginger ale’s cousin, ginger beer, has a stronger flavor that does not appear in as many cocktails as its tamer relative. For people who like their ginger big and bold, there’s nothing quite like a Moscow Mule. Your favorite vodka with a nice strong ginger beer, lime juice, served in a copper mug with a lime garnish. Spicy, a little acidic and potent, it will wake up your taste buds.

History of the Moscow Mule

Vodka lovers enjoy this cocktail with their favorite brand, such as the popular Absolut Moscow Mule drink. But who created this unique drink and when? Interestingly enough, there are two stories about the creation of the cocktail. Both agree that it was invented at the Chatham Hotel in New York in 1941. Where the stories diverge is in who made the first mule and what circumstances lead to the combination of vodka and ginger.

Jack Morgan/John Martin

In a story reported in the New York Times, Jack Morgan, owner of Cock’n Bull products produced a spicy ginger beer he was having difficulty selling. Based in Los Angeles, Morgan was in New York hoping to make some sales. At the Chatham hotel, he met John Martin, the president of a spirit company who was trying to sell his vodka. Martin was having no better success than Morgan.

The two men engaged in conversation over drinks at the hotel bar and came up with an idea. They combined their products, added some ice and lime juice and created a delicious new drink. The name Moscow Mule came from the Russian origin of vodka and the kick provided by the ginger beer. When Martin got back to California, the drink quickly became popular in Hollywood.

Wes Price

In 2007, The Wall Street Journal printed a different account of the mule’s creation. In this version, bartender Wes Price had a basement full of unsold vodka and ginger beer. The stock was taking up needed space so in a burst of inspiration, Price combined the two unwanted products into a new cocktail, which he named the Moscow Mule. According to Price, the new drink, “caught on like wildfire” and presumably cleared out the basement.

The Copper Mug

The Moscow Mule is traditionally served in a copper mug, an unusual vessel for a cocktail. The mug came about later when Martin was traveling around the country, selling his vodka by showing the drink to bartenders. He would take two Polaroids of each bartender holding a copper mug and a bottle of his vodka. Martin would take one of the photographs with him and the other would be on display at the bar. The copper mug became associated with the Moscow Mule and no mule is a true mule unless served this way. Although copper on the outside, the mugs are lined with stainless steel. The acidic content of the drink can react with copper to produce compounds that should not be consumed. The steel lining keeps the cup and the drink perfectly safe.


Over the years, variations of the Moscow Mule with equally colorful names have evolved. For example, the Kentucky Mule uses bourbon instead of vodka. Using tequila makes a Mexican Mule and a Jamaican Mule has spiced rum. Perhaps the most fun, the Moscow Mole uses Mountain Dew in place of ginger beer.

A cocktail with a crisp, distinctive flavor, the Moscow Mule has steadily gained popularity since its invention in the 1940s. Whichever version of its creation you choose to believe, grab a bottle of your favorite vodka and give it a try.

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