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Alcohol & Spirits

The Moscow Mule: A Cocktail That's Still Kicking

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Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 6:00 PM

click to enlarge Greer Garson drank hers in a "glass of alarmingly huge proportions." - FLICKR
  • Flickr
  • Greer Garson drank hers in a "glass of alarmingly huge proportions."
The Moscow Mule is a delightfully refreshing cocktail with a Hollywood pedigree.

In 1941, shortly before Pearl Harbor, John G. Martin of Heublein, an East Coast spirits distributor, and Jack Morgan, owner of the late Cock 'n' Bull bar on Sunset Boulevard (whose name, consequently, was bought by Tony Moogan, the current owner of the Cock 'n' Bull in Santa Monica, or Cock 'n Bull as another sign reads) created the drink made with Smirnoff vodka, ginger beer and lime and served it over cracked ice in a copper mug. Some claim it was conceived to boost low sales of ginger beer, but there is also the explanation that vodka was a little-known spirit in the U.S. at the time and Heublein created the Mule as a marketing tool to bring awareness to the liquor, or, conversely, get rid of unwanted stock.

Whatever the case, the cocktail became a hit in Tinseltown, helped in no small part by the Cock N Bull's ego-boosting personally engraved goblets: earnest Hollywood stars had their very own chalice waiting for them behind the bar when they came in.

In a 1948 article in the New York Herald, Clementine Paddleford (what names people used to have!) wrote, "Matrons are pouring mules like pink tea and giggling like co-eds."

In 1965, the drink was re-launched as the Smirnoff Mule with dancer "Killer Joe" Piro performing to a song sung by Skitch Henderson and Carmen McRae: "Stand stubborn/Stop sudden/Look cool. Turn it on/Take it off/The Smirnoff Mule!"

We may have lost the art of the jingle, but we'll never lose our taste for the Moscow Mule.

Moscow Mule

Makes: 1 drink (copper mug optional)

Note: Ginger beer is stronger, spicier and has more ginger than regular ginger ale.

2 ounces of vodka

1/2 ounce lime juice

Ginger beer

1. Combine the vodka and lime in a shaker and dry shake (without ice).

2. Pour into a tall glass over ice.

3. Top with the best ginger beer you can find.

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