The Moscow Mule is also known as a vodka buck, which means it’s a mixed drink with either ginger ale, ginger beer or citrus juice. The name refers to the Russian vodka used in the drink, and not surprisingly it was invented in 1939 when the president of Smirnoff, president of a ginger beer company and president of a spirits distribution company sat down for drinks. Vodka wasn’t selling well and neither was ginger beer but together they became one of the most popular drinks in the 1950s.

I prefer tart and refreshing cocktails and the combination of spicy ginger beer and sour lime is a great cocktail for a hot day. The key to the Moscow Mule is the copper mug. 

The copper mug may keep the drink cold but originally it was just a marketing ploy. John Martin, the vodka distributor bought them to set the drink apart from others. He would go to a bar with a Polaroid camera and get bartenders to pose with the mug and the bottle of Smirnoff vodka to take two photos. He would leave one photo with the bartender but take the other to a competing bar to convince bar owners they were missing out on the hottest drink. That ploy was successful and sales of Smirnoff took off.

Sadly when US-Russian relations started going South and Americans began to fear Communists the sales of Moscow Mules started to slide. While neither Smirnoff nor the cocktail was a Russian drink at all, the inference was enough for sales to tank. However, it’s now enjoying a resurgence like many other classic cocktails.


4 oz Ginger beer  • 2 oz vodka • 1 oz lime juice

The Moscow Mule is this summer's hottest cocktail, learn the classic 3-ingredient recipe that is so easy to make at home. In a copper mug, pour vodka over ice. Add lime juice, ginger beer and stir. Garnish with mint and a slice of lime. A very simple recipe which is essentially vodka, ginger beer and lime. Recipes vary on the ratio of these three items and it’s evolved over the years. It’s common now to see mint as a garnish and depending on where you order one you may see it served with a cucumber. If you want to jazz it up a bit the Moscow Mule is a forgiving recipe and you can easily add berries or fruit like pomegranate or fresh summer peaches.  Prefer rum instead of vodka? Swap it out and you have a dark and stormy.