There are many different types of cocktails, some with many ingredients and sugary and some that are very simple. Many of these cocktails have their own specific glasses, such as the iconic margarita glass for my favorite cocktail and the snifter glass for a whiskey soda. One that is not as well known, but almost necessary for the drink is the copper mug for Moscow mules.
The Moscow mule is a simple and delicious cocktail that is a mix of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice. When I desire a vodka cocktail, the Moscow mule is my go-to drink. The recipe for a traditional Moscow mule is very simple:
1-2 ounces vodka
5-7 ounces ginger beer (depending on strength)
pour over ice
Now, when going to make a Moscow mule, it is important to consider which kind of glass you’ll be using. Standard glass cups are acceptable, but I always use a copper mug. There’s something about the copper that makes the drink so much better. I’m sure it’s all psychological, but it seems to make all the difference. The copper mug is traditional for this drink. The first Moscow mules were served out of Russian copper mugs sold to the bar that invented the drink. Again, it doesn’t actually change the taste of the beverage, but it feels so much better. The copper helps keep the cocktail cold longer as well. The best part though is that copper mugs are made at the perfect serving size.
The trick with buying copper mugs is that you have to find ones that are actually made of copper. Several businesses sell copper plated mugs, and these can scratch and peel off over time. There are handcrafted mugs that have a textured feel from being beaten into shape or the standard cylindrical style. The hand-beaten mugs are part of my collection because they look very stylish while on the shelf between uses. Why not have a chic kitchen as well as a functional one?
Once you purchase your fancy copper mugs, knowing how to properly clean them is an important step. Most copper dishes are not dishwasher safe and must therefore be hand washed. Be sure to use a mild soap and the soft side of your sponge. A scrub sponge will scratch the copper over time. Then you have to dry them; don’t make the mistake I did. Water spots tarnish the copper. This does give the mugs an antique look, but it could affect the taste of your mules if there are many tarnish points.
So, now that we have our copper mugs, it’s time to make the drink! There’s no wrong way to mix a Moscow mule, but I usually do the following: fill my mug with ice, pour in a large shot of vodka, squeeze a lime – I like mine tart so I use a whole lime instead of a half – and then fill the mug to the top with ginger beer. Growing up in the microbrewery world, I try to find some local ginger beer from a soda shop or brewery. I just think it’s great to support the local places. Besides, the different places make the ginger beer just a little different and makes your drink unique every time. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, there are the standard options such as Saranac and Bundaberg that are available at grocery stores.
Smirnoff is the traditional vodka of the Moscow mule, and I abide by that. It’s inexpensive and there are many different flavors. Straight vodka is the common choice, but there are some variations that are very delicious. A cucumber mule is refreshing on a hot day. Fruity options such as strawberry, peach, watermelon, or orange gives the traditional drink a sweeter taste. If you like a kick, there are jalapeño mule recipes. One of my favorite variations is a mint mule. For this, you put mint leaves at the bottom of the glass before filling it with ice, otherwise the recipe is the same. Flavored vodka is a quick way to mix up your recipe, but there are a few recipes out there with fresh ingredients.
If vodka isn’t your favorite, but you’re still intrigued by this ginger drink, there are different alcohol options. The Mexican mule is made with tequila. There are a few recipes made with run or gin, too. I haven’t tried either of these, but a Mexican mule is quite good. And of course, the copper mug is still the best choice to hold such a cocktail.