Moscow Mule

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The Moscow Mule's famous copper mug

A Moscow Mule is a Buck Cocktail with vodka as its base spirit. It is considered the cocktail that launched the vodka cocktail craze in the United States, beginning in the 1940s.



  • 2 shots Smirnoff Vodka.
  • juice from 1/2 a fresh lime.
  • Ginger Beer (to taste).

Squeeze the lime into a tall glass filled with ice, and then add the Vodka; finally, add Ginger Beer to taste, remembering that this is meant to be a long drink.

History of the Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule was created sometime before the end of 1942. Who exactly created the Moscow Mule is unknown, as proof is yet to be found. The accepted story is it was invented in Los Angeles—as a result of savvy marketing—to sell more Smirnoff vodka and ginger beer. The copper mug was used initially for aesthetic reasons but has since become tradition.

Previously the Official story was that the Moscow Mule was created after the second world war, which ended in 1945, and has been disproven.

Historical Recipes

"Inside Hollywood" by Eith Gwynn, December 27, 1942

"There is a new drink that is a craze in the movie colony now. It is called "Moscow Mule." Recipe: equal parts Vodka, lime juice and ginger beer!..."

"Nevada State Journal," 12th October, 1943

"In Los Angeles, USA, the Moscow Mule was born, it combines Smirnoff Vodka, Cock 'n Bull Ginger Beer and lime. Already the Mule is climbing up into the exclusive handful of most-popular mixed drinks"

BUCKEYE TAVERN, "Patrick Murphy's The Barman's Corner," 11 May 1944

"Since the primary purpose of this column is to keep the trade informed of mixtro news in particular and beverage lore in general, we hasten to report that a drink is being promoted in the Southwest. It's a brand promotion, but undoubtedly will click since it has a snappy name and its number one ingredient, vodka, is bought more easily in many areas than is gin or whiskey. The drink is a cooler built along Tom Collins lines, and here is the recipe as advertised:


1 oz. vodka, 10 oz. glass and chipped ice, a twist of lemon peel.

Note (GS): The absence of ginger beer in this recipe may just be a typo.


1945 edition
  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 split Ginger Beer
  • Crushed Ice
  • Serve in mug
  • Decorate with sprigs of mint

1950 edition
  • 1/2 Lime Squeezed and Dropped in
  • 2 oz Volka (sic)
  • 1 split Ginger Beer or Canada Dry Ginger Ale.
  • 2 Cubes Ice. Serve in mug. Stir

Reno Evening Gazette, 23rd May 1947

"Originating at the COCK BULL, Hollywood's most famous English type tavern, this unusual refreshment has become so popular it has even been featured in LIFE."

Time Magazine, 12th January, 1948

Moscow Mules* in copper souvenir cups.

  • Recipe: half a lime, jigger of vodka, add ginger beer to taste.

New York Herald Tribune, 28th July 1948

Experiment With Vodka Lead to Moscow Mule.

Lime Juice, Ginger Beer and Ice Cubes Are Added to Give Potent New Drink.

By Clementine Paddleford

"TEAM WORK--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. Here was ginger beer in crockery bottles tasting exactly like that of old England."

Berkshire Evening Eagle, 25th July 1949

"A Moscow mule is served in a copper mug, or vase, and is made of vodka and ginger- beer. I met it first in Hollywood"

The New Yorker, 24th September 1955

"There is a film writer of English parentage named Jack Morgan who operates a restaurant called the Cock'n Bull in Hollywood. Seven years ago, he figured that he could make Americans like ginger beer as much as the English do. He failed in that attempt, but he had his bartenders—five crackerjack men—try to find out what you could put with ginger beer to make it more attractive. They decided on vodka, and after they'd rejected such names as Timoshenko, Stalingrad, and Zhukov, somebody thought of Moscow Mule."

Common Recipes

Joy of Mixology, Gary Regan

  • Build
  • 2 oz vodka (60ml)
  • 3 oz ginger beer (90ml)
  • 2 lime wedges, for garnish

Serve in a copper mug

Craft of the Cocktail, Dale DeGroff

  • Build
  • 1 1/2oz vodka
  • 4 to 5oz ginger beer
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

Serve in an iced glass

Contentious Issues Regarding This Cocktail

Is the Moscow Mule served with Cucumber?

Ted Haigh Enlightens us

"Some time in the mid 50s a Palm Springs hotel bar began making this drink with the cucumber garnish. But why? Well, for a different twist, yes.... but it still occurs today and in old bars which have made it that way for years. Here's why: Moscow Mules are consumed as refreshers. What else, traditionally, would the sort of bar that served Moscow Mules serve as a refresher? Pimm's Cup. I've even seen Pimm's served in metal beer mugs and -wait for it- Mule mugs."

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