Episode #036: Moscow Mules, Vodka Bucks

Moscow mule, vodka buck - cocktail podcast

Not just those drinks in those pretty copper mugs,  Moscow Mules are actually a conundrum of cocktails. One of the few classic drinks from the post-Prohibition era, the story of the birth of the Moscow Mule only adds to its allure. Hell, even the name is a bit of a confusing effort, as it was named for its marketing of a Russian vodka brand (which you may have heard of—Smirnoff—if you’ve had liquor in the past 50 years), when it could have just as easily been called a “vodka buck” like it’s liquor-ginger-citrus brethren. Regardless, the Moscow Mule is a classic, and one of the most refreshing drinks around.

On this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • The birth of the Moscow Mule
  • Basic construction of the drink
  • How to drink a Mule in style
  • Variations on the Mule (including its Buck cousins)

A Note: As many of our fans have noticed, we have…issues… with vodka, a lot of the time. Mostly, it’s that vodka, when it comes to cocktails, doesn’t provide a lot of flavor or character. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t have its purpose—the Mule is just one example—but we definitely encourage you to infuse your vodkas with natural ingredients or change up your liquor entirely. While every Mule doesn’t have to be an adventure, not every adventure starts with just a plain Mule. Or something like that.

The story of the Moscow Mule:

“The mule was born in Manhattan but “stalled” on the West Coast for the duration. The birthplace of “Little Moscow” was in New York’s Chatham Hotel. That was back in 1941 when the first carload of Jack Morgan’s Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer was railing over the plains to give New Yorkers a happy surprise…

The Violette Family helped. Three friends were in the Chatham bar, one John A. Morgan, known as Jack, president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products and owner of the Hollywood Cock ‘n’ Bull Restaurant; one was John G. Martin, president of G.F. Heublein Brothers Inc. of Hartford, Conn., and the third was Rudolph Kunett, president of the Pierre Smirnoff, Heublein’s vodka division. As Jack Morgan tells it, “We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d’oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius”. Martin and Kunett had their minds on their vodka and wondered what would happen if a two-ounce shot joined with Morgan’s ginger beer and the squeeze of a lemon. Ice was ordered, lemons procured, mugs ushered in and the concoction put together. Cups were raised, the men counted five and down went the first taste. It was good. It lifted the spirit to adventure. Four or five days later the mixture was christened the Moscow Mule…”George Sinclair quotes from a 2007 article run in the New York Herald Tribune.

Other Features:

Moscow Mule Mugs – Are Copper Mugs Really Better? In HomeWetBar

The Legend of the Moscow Mule: The Copper Cup that Could from the Copper Development Association

Photo by Edsel Little