Classic Moscow Mule Recipe

Two icy cocktails in copper mugs surrounded by lime and fresh mint.

Salute the summer cocktail season with a classic: The Moscow Mule. This easy three ingredient mule recipe will have your thirst quenched in no time!

Nothing beats the heat like an icy cold cocktail. We love having friends over to share our newest creations like these fab Pineapple Margaritas or these frosty Mango Passionfruit Wine Slushies. Our favourite cocktail spot is…our deck!

Two icy cocktails in copper mugs surrounded by lime and fresh mint.

A Classic Moscow Mule Recipe

The traditional Moscow Mule is one of the easiest cocktails out there. You might say it has the ‘biggest bang for the buck’. For very little effort, you can have one tasty cocktail filled with flavour.

The spicy ginger heat is first and foremost in this cocktail, followed by the tang of sour lime. Both flavours combined with the intense sparkling carbonation make this drink incredibly refreshing.

Whether you’re a trained professional, or a backyard bartender you’ll love the ease with which this tasty summer cocktail comes together.

Ingredients used in a classic Moscow Mule recipe.

Are Moscow Mules from Moscow?

The ‘Moscow’ portion of the name comes from the origin of the spirit used. It is generally accepted that vodka was first distilled in Russian as early as the 8th or 9th century, though many may argue that Poland could have been its place of origin.

Vodka is economical, in that it can be distilled from a mash of readily available raw materials (cereal grains or potatoes) in agriculturally based countries (such as Russia and Poland).

The clear distilled spirit is popular in Russian and Poland as a chilled shot while those outside of these countries prefer it mixed into cocktail recipes as a neutral spirit. However, this was not always the case.

Read on to find out how the classic mule recipe was born…

Ginger beer being poured into a ice filled copper mug.

Who Invented the Moscow Mule Recipe?

As with most classic cocktails, the creation of the Moscow Mule is a mixture of fascinating facts and fiction. Most stories agree that the mule recipe was invented in Hollywood in the early 1940’s at the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub on Sunset Strip.

It was there that proprietor, Jack Morgan attempted to introduce the American public to his fiery ginger beer. At first, it didn’t catch on. However, one fateful day his friend John Martin (the head of G.F. Heublein & Brothers, a food and spirits importer) paid him a visit.

It seems John had just purchased the Smirnoff vodka distillery and was also having trouble selling his product to Americans. The two put their heads (and their products) together and the rest is history.

Now, you may be asking…what about the copper mug?

An icy cocktail in a copper mug surrounded by lime and fresh mint.

Why Are Moscow Mules Served in Copper Mugs?

The creation of the Moscow Mule was all about marketing two great products together that weren’t selling on their own. However, there is a third component to this marketing equation: the copper mug.

There’s also a third person involved in some versions of this story. It’s possible that this person was never identified because she was female. If you Google ‘origin of Moscow Mule copper mug’ the website that comes up tells the story of this third person, Sophie Berezinski, an immigrant from Russia.

The story goes that Ms Berezinski’s father owned owned and operated a copper factory in Russia known as the Moscow Copper Co. She brought the mugs with her to America to sell because they weren’t selling in Russia.

She spent her days trying to sell the mugs at restaurants and bars in Hollywood and finally lucked out at the Cock ‘n’ Bull. Whether or not she was there for the creation of the mule recipe, or the two men decided the mugs would make a great marketing tool remains unknown.

Two icy cocktails in copper mugs surrounded by lime and fresh mint.

What is so Special about Copper Moscow Mule Mugs?

Besides the fact that it’s an excellent marketing gimmick and longstanding tradition, copper mugs have a great conductivity. The cold metal insulates the icy cocktail thereby keeping it cold and refreshing.

Additionally, there is also a more scientific approach to why this cocktail just tastes better in a copper mug. The combination of highly acidic vodka, ginger beer and lime oxidizes the copper which boosts the aroma and enhances the flavour of the cocktail.

Are Copper Mugs Good For You?

So, is it safe to ingest copper? Yes, within limits. Any time copper comes into contact with food or liquid with a pH below 6.0 copper may leach into the food and cause copper poisoning (symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting and jaundice).

Since this mule recipe has a pH well below 6, I highly recommend you exercise caution and enjoy these beverages in moderation. The amount of copper leaching is so minuscule that the occasional Moscow Mule won’t hurt. Just don’t have one every night!

Two icy cocktails in copper mugs surrounded by lime and fresh mint.

How to Make a Moscow Mule Cocktail

The Moscow Mule recipe is an easy one to follow. There are no special strainers or cocktail shakers involved. You simply pour, stir and sip!

I like to begin by chilling the copper mugs in the freezer for at least an hour. Though they retain the chill of the cold ginger beer and crushed ice, these drinks need to be as frosty as possible for best results.

While the mugs are chilling, juice the fresh limes to allow the juice to sit for a while. Remove the chilled mugs from the freezer and fill them with crushed ice.

Pour two ounces of vodka in each mug, then add 1/2 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice to each drink. Top the mugs up with chilled ginger beer and stir gently.

It’s traditional to garnish Moscow Mules with a sprig of mint, but it isn’t actually part of the cocktail. You can also use a slice of lime as a garnish.

Two icy cocktails in copper mugs surrounded by lime and fresh mint.

Ginger Beer or Ginger Ale

The zippy kick of a ‘mule’ can only come from a high quality ginger beer. While many mule recipes make exceptions and say that you can use ginger ale instead of ginger beer, I absolutely insist that you use a real spicy ginger beer, it’s not a Moscow mule if you use ginger ale. Don’t be a wiener.

Note: There are alcoholic ginger beers on the market. All mule recipes call for non alcoholic ginger beer and there are several good ones on the market, including the original Cock ‘n’ Bull. I like Fentimans (UK), Bundaberg (Australian), and Fever Tree Ginger Beer.

I often find that Jamaican style ginger beers work great too. Two brands I love are Reed’s Stronger Ginger Brew and The Great Jamaican Ginger Beer Co. Feel free to experiment to find your favourite ginger beer.

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Pinterest image of two icy Moscow Mule cocktails in copper mugs surrounded by lime and fresh mint.
Yield: 2 cocktails

Classic Moscow Mule Recipe

Two icy cocktails in copper mugs surrounded by lime and fresh mint.

Salute the summer cocktail season with a classic: The Moscow Mule. This easy three ingredient mule recipe will have your thirst quenched in no time!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz vodka
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 6-8 oz. ginger beer 
  • fresh mint or wheel of lime to garnish

Instructions

  1. Place two copper mugs in the freezer for 1 hour (optional)
  2. Remove mugs from freezer and fill with crushed ice.
  3. Pour two shots of vodka in each mug, then 1/2 oz fresh lime juice.
  4. Top up with ginger beer, then stir gently.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of mint, a wheel of lime or both.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 505Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 97gFiber: 0gSugar: 96gProtein: 0g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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28 comments

  1. Sharon

    Yum! I love Moscow Mules and this recipe is perfect timing for the heatwave coming to Vancouver this week. 🙂 We use Dickies ginger beer.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Dickies! I have never heard of that one. Is it local? We have a few breweries here in Calgary that make ginger beer.

      Reply

  2. nancy

    Oh Bernice !! How you read my mind and was craving a classic mule !! the photos are beautiful too!! I can’t wait to pour myself a few righttttt at 4 pm!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Excellent, cheers my friend and have an amazing weekend.

      Reply

  3. Terri

    I’ve never even tried a Moscow mule- I need to change that! Very interesting history!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      If you love ginger, it’s a must try for sure!

      Reply

  4. Gloria

    With the summer heat, this is the perfect drink for the patio. Always love the flavours in this classic recipe. Happy Summer!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      You bet! We bought a case of ginger beer from Costco so we are ready for the heat!!

      Reply

  5. veenaazmanov

    Delicious combination and refreshing drink. Love your picture perfect presentation.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you Veena! We love our summer cocktails.

      Reply

  6. Ramona

    This Moscow mule looks absolutely delicious and super refreshing! This recipe is a blessing for summer which I definitely will be trying soon. Thank you for sharing this recipe, I can’t wait to make this!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I happen to think it’s summer in a glass but maybe that’s just me.

      Reply

  7. Jere Cassidy

    I think it is about time I try a Moscow Mule. First, it’s that copper mug and then the ingredients just sound so refreshing. Making this for happy hour.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Wonderful to hear. Cheers, Jere!

      Reply

  8. Brianna

    Absolutely one of my favorite cocktails! Love the spiciness of ginger beer.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Same! I actually just finished a bottle of Fevertree and my mouth is on fire!

      Reply

  9. Erin

    I need to see if I can find ginger beer around here! I don’t think I’ve ever had it before. I need to try this because it sounds so refreshing!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I’m not entirely sure but there are a few American brands out there!

      Reply

  10. Alex

    That is so interesting about the mugs! I had no idea. It’s time I give Moscow mules a try! Your photos make them look especially delicious.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I love finding out the back story to cocktails and recipe in general. I just find it so fascinating.

      Reply

  11. Katie Crenshaw

    This is my favorite cocktail in the summer. This recipe makes it come out perfect at home. Love it.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Excellent news, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  12. EA Stewart

    Your photos are so pretty! Great post on how to make a Moscow Mule-definitely one of my favorite cocktails. Looking forward to making this over the summer. Cheers!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you so very much! Cheers, my friend.

      Reply

  13. Jen

    I love ordering Moscow mules when I’m out and this recipe helped me to make my favourite cocktail perfectly home. This is a game changer!! Thanks.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Same! I’m glad you can make them at home now too Jen.

      Reply

  14. Moop Brown

    This cocktail looks so refreshing and perfect for summer. Definitely gonna try making this one- thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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