The Story behind Mule, a Kind of Russian Drink, That You Need To Know

If people are asked to make a list of words connected to Russia, vodka would most likely appear on it. The liquor has become the nation’s pride and identity that some studies show a typical Russian man can drink up to 180 bottles of Vodka in year. It shows how much they love the spirit. Not only in Russia, Vodka is also popular around the world and used as parts of cocktails like Black and White Russian, Russian Mojito, and many more. The interesting fact about these concoctions is that they were not invented in Russia. The name represents the existence of Vodka in the mixture.

There is another alcoholic drink that is closely related to Russia; Moscow Mule. Does it have anything to do with a donkey, you might wonder. Why is it called Mule? What’s the story? Does it taste good? Hold your horses, we are going to tell you the answers and see the story behind this Russian drink that you need to know.

Moscow Mule wasn’t invented in Moscow

Despite the name, this cocktail was actually whipped up for the first time in Los Angeles in 1941. A pub there, called Cock ‘n’ Bull, had storage full of ginger beer that didn’t make the sell because people didn’t like the taste. Vodka had also made its way to the USA but less popular than whiskey at that time. So, Wes Price, the head bartender of Cock ‘n’ Bull – inspired by the Mamie Taylor cocktail that mixed whiskey with ginger beer – tried to do something with those two unwanted drinks to cut down the surplus by mixing them together plus lime juice topped with crushed ice and mint leaves, and there it was the Moscow Mule that has become sensational ever since.

A cup of Moscow Mule can drain away toxicity

A traditional way to drink Mule is through a copper cup and there’s another interesting story behind it. it was Sophie Berezinski who first introduced the copper mug to the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub in Los Angeles. She had the mugs manufactured in Russia, but failed to sell them due to the condition in the Soviet Union at that time; the people had not enough money for such fancy thing. So Berezinski hauled 2,000 of her copper mugs to the U.S.A. but her husband didn’t like the idea and asked her to just throw them away. Of course it was not an option for Sophie Berezinski, so she took them to L.A. – which happened to be her luck. This story, however, received mixed reactions from people because it seemed to be impossible at that time to bring that many copper goods out of Russia with Joseph Stalin’s approval. One thing for sure is; the inventor of Mule Moscow wanted to use copper mugs to match the originality of the drink.

But, the public health supervisor asked for the mugs to be layered with stainless steel on the inside and around the lips to avoid the drink getting polluted with the copper. This advice ended up ignored after it was proven that the acidity from the cocktail could drain away the toxicity from the mug. Until today, Moscow Mule is always served in a copper mug as it has become the drink’s signature.


Americans learn about Vodka from the Mule

There are a lot of famous vodka brands around the world; the one that made it to the states for the first time was Smirnoff which then became the liquor used for the Moscow Mule cocktail. In the 1940’s not many Americans knew about this Russian alcohol, and it was the Mule that rocketed the liquor’s fame in the U.S.A. Smirnoff remained the one and only brand used for the Moscow Mule for several years after its invention and probably the most popular vodka brand in the states.

The cocktail was banned during the Cold War

We all know the history between Russia and the U.S.A. and so around the 1950’s when the Cold War was in full swing, everything Russian was boycotted around the states. Because vodka was an essential part of Moscow Mule – and look at the name of the cocktail! – the drink was banned everywhere since people were pretty much against anything Russian. But the owner of Smirnoff made a nation-wide announcement to make sure that both the vodka and cocktail were originally from America. The names were only merely borrowed. Of course he needed to let people know to avoid his business plummeted during the war when people consumed a lot of alcohol.


Moscow Mule took a fall and then came back stronger

In the middle of the 1960’s, the cocktail started to lose its fame. The company tried to change the name to Smirnoff Mule, but it didn’t do much help with the sales. People slowly started to forget the concoction although vodka was still a staple in almost every bar. In the 2000’s, bars and pubs tried to bring back the cocktails to the table and they came up with variations to make the drink more attractive than just a mug of ginger beer and vodka but still served in copper mugs. This attempt turned out to be a success because Moscow Mule then returned into the scene and people loved the re-invention.

Variations of the Mule

Bartenders have been putting different sorts of liquor to make variations of Mule; a Kentucky Mule uses bourbon instead of vodka, a New Orleans Mule puts coffee liqueur like Kahlua into the mixture, a Mexican Mule uses tequila, a Glasgow Mule uses absinthe, and Cuban Mule uses rum. So the Mule can come from different parts of the globe depends on what liquor is poured into the mug.

So now you know how interesting a Mule is from the story behind the drink that took a long way and more than just a bartender trying to come up with something.

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