Folklore and tale surrounds the origins of the Moscow Mule cocktail but the popularity of this drink remains undisputed.
Legend has it that three merchant friends each with surplus stock of vodka, ginger beer and copper mugs put their problems together and came up with this refreshing cocktail whilst watering their sorrows in the bar of the Chatham hotel in Manhattan.
There is a lot of murkiness surrounding the actual facts – probably because of the amount of alcohol involved – but one detail is held to be true and that is that vodka was an unpopular drink in the American cocktail scene in the 1940s. Apparently Americans joked that ‘vodka’ was the Russian word for ‘horrible’.
Following the creation of this ingenious flavour combination of spicy ginger beer, vodka and lime juice the Russian Mule became popular immediately and soon joined the Bloody Mary and vodka martini as one of the all-time classic vodka cocktails.
But why such a random name you may ask? Moscow was most likely used because of the general association of vodka with Russia. But mule? Some say that mule was added because ginger beer delivers a kick of flavour, but we think the kick is probably down to the double shot of vodka. Just saying.
50 ml vodka
60 ml ginger beer
25 ml lime juice
25 ml sugar syrup (optional)
Add vodka and lime juice to a chilled mule mug filled with ice – the colder the mug, the better. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a wedge of lime and mint.
Thanks to our friends at Hope on Hopkins for sharing this cocktail classic. Don’t miss their Martini Masterclasses at their artisanal distillery in Cape Town where you spend the evening shaking, stirring and sipping whilst assimilating the secrets and history behind several martinis.
Photography: Kleinjan Groenewald