The Moscow Mule: Born of losers. Made into winners.

by Craig Maltby for Club LT

Last month I wrote about vodka. This month I’m writing about vodka again. Believe me, though, I’m not vodka-obsessed. But this story of the advent of the Moscow Mule is pretty interesting. And its summer. Moscow Mules were made for summer.

I won’t tell you all the details. They are pretty well narrated in other pages I’ll share. But the basic story is this:

An American businessman in 1939 bought the rights to distribute the Russian vodka brand Smirnoff in the United States. Back then, vodka was considered a 2nd-tier, bush-league spirit and didn’t have much of a following.

The businessman found himself with a whole bunch of vodka that wasn’t selling. He was lamenting his marketing troubles to a bartender in L.A. who also had a bunch of something called “ginger beer” in his bar that he couldn’t get rid of.

They started experimenting on the spot, mixing Smirnoff with ginger beer. Kind of a boozy version of the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup.

At the same time, a Russian woman was in the bar as well, trying to find a place in America to unload a whole boatload of Russian-made copper cups that were not selling in Russia. She got in on the discussion, too.

Before you know it, the classic Moscow Mule was born. And it began its rise in the American cocktail culture that would last for decades.

The “Mule” has now evolved to mean almost anything that you can mix with ice and ginger beer in a copper cup.

Here are a few new-age Mule recipes you might try. Most use vodka, but several go with rum, bourbon or gin.

And if someone tries to get you to drink a Mule in anything other than a copper cup, just say “Nyet!” (Photo: Ketel One Vodka)

About Craig Maltby
Craig Maltby is the Club LT community manager. He lives and works in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. When not writing or editing, Craig goes to movies, plays golf (or at least hits balls at the range), and plays keyboard in a classic rock music duo. 

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