You’ve got the copper mugs, the ginger beer, and the vodka: now all you need is a recipe. Here’s how to make a classic Moscow mule!

Moscow mule

It’s bubbly, tangy, looks impressive, and goes down easy. Meet the classic Moscow mule! This drink was invented in the 1940’s, but it’s having a moment now, too. It’s got only 3 ingredients and takes 3 minutes to make: perfect for parties or a lazy evening on the patio. Outside of the margarita, it might be one of our favorite drinks of all time. Here’s how to make this refreshing vodka cocktail!

What’s in a Moscow mule?

A Moscow mule is a classic cocktail born in the 1940’s, made with vodka and ginger beer. It’s part of a family of cocktails called bucks: cocktails made with liquor, ginger ale or ginger beer, and citrus juice. So, the drink could also be called a vodka buck! This classic cocktail is on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. The official definition of a Moscow mule is:

  • Vodka
  • Ginger beer
  • Lime juice
Moscow mule

How to make a mule

Because a Moscow mule is all about the carbonation in the ginger beer, this drink is not mixed in a cocktail shaker. To preserve the carbonation, simply mix it right in the mug and served over ice. You don’t even need a cocktail shaker! This makes it one of the easiest cocktail recipes you can find. Here’s what to do:

  1. Build the drink in a mug. Pour 2 ounces vodka, ½ ounce lime juice, and 4 ounces ginger beer into a copper mug.
  2. Garnish. Add ice cubes, and garnish with lime. It’s that simple!

Why a copper mug? Keep reading…

Why are Moscow mules served in copper mugs?

Moscow mules are traditionally served in a copper cup or copped mug. Does it have to be served in copper? There are a few reasons for this drinkware choice:

  • Copper keeps the drink cool in a different way than glass. Copper immediately takes on the temperature of the drink. The sensation of taking a sip of the drink with a cool copper rim makes it taste even colder!
  • Copper mugs are traditional. According to this source, the Moscow mule was invented in the 1940’s by Smirnoff executive John Martin and his friend businessman John Morgan, as a ploy to sell more vodka, ginger beer, and copper mugs. People in Hollywood fell in love with it, and there were lots of images of celebrities drinking mules in copper mugs. It caught on, and it’s still the traditional way to drink this cocktail.

Do you have to serve a mule in copper? No! The Moscow mule tastes good in any type of cup or glass. Use a lowball glass, jar, a standard mug: whatever strikes your fancy.

Moscow mule

Where to find copper mugs for Moscow mules

The best choice for copper mugs for a mule? Solid copper! This is the only way to get that perfect refreshing cold sip (other metals with a copper veneer don’t work). The mugs we used in these photos are out of stock, but we recommend these similar solid copper Moscow mule mugs.

Moscow mule copper mugs make great gifts, especially as wedding gifts for couples who love to make great cocktails!

Best vodka for a Moscow mule

What’s the best vodka for a Moscow mule? A rule of thumb: use a mid-priced vodka: avoid very inexpensive or high-end vodka. Why? The ginger beer and lime flavors in a Moscow mule are very strong and can overpower a great vodka. But you don’t want to go too bottom shelf: low quality vodka can ruin the drink. Avoid vodka that is very cheap ($10 to $15 per 750 ml bottle range). Brands like Tito’s and Smirnoff work well here, as well as other mid range brands like Grey Goose.

Best ginger beer for a Moscow mule

There are so many ginger beer brands on the market! Look for ginger beer that’s made with real ginger, without artificial flavors or sweeteners. Here are a few brands we like:

  • Q Ginger Beer: This is our top choice! It has great flavor and is made with real ginger. It comes in small cans so you don’t have to open a large bottle. (That’s the biggest plus!)
  • Fever Tree Ginger Beer: Fever Tree also has great flavor and is our backup. It’s made with real ginger and has no artificial sweeteners.
  • More Ginger Beer Brands: Here’s a list of more top brands.

Want more with ginger beer? See these Top Ginger Beer Cocktails.

Moscow mule

Variations on the mule

There are endless variations on the Moscow mule! You can use various types of liquor to make different types of mules, or add fruit juices or herbs to vary the flavors. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • Kentucky Mule: Use bourbon for the vodka for a whiskey-forward variation.
  • Mexican Mule: Use tequila instead of vodka! The way the bite of the tequila interplays with the spicy ginger is irresistible.
  • Gin Gin Mule A modern classic, essentially a mashup of a mule and a Mojito.
  • Dark and Stormy: Use dark rum in a highball glass, and you’ve got another classic cocktail.
  • Mezcal Mule: Use tequila and mezcal for a smoky spin on the mule.
  • Irish Mule: Use Irish whiskey in place of of vodka: the spicy finish is irresistible.
  • Watermelon Mule or Apple Cider Mule These seasonal spins let you drink the mule all year long.

When to serve a Moscow mule

The Moscow mule is a classic vodka cocktail that’s delicious as it is versatile. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Summer drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Moscow mule

Classic Moscow Mule

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


You’ve got the copper mugs, the ginger beer, and the vodka: now all you need is a recipe. Here’s how to make a classic Moscow mule!


  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) vodka
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) ginger beer
  • For the garnish: lime wheel or wedge, fresh mint (if desired)


  1. Pour the vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer into a copper mug. 
  2. Add ice and garnish with a lime slice. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Moscow Mule, Moscow Mule Recipe

More classic cocktails

Here are a few more of our classic cocktails to add to your repertoire:

  • Classic Margarita  The very best classic margarita: lime, tequila and Cointreau. Perfection! And here are 10 ways to make a margarita.
  • Best Gin and Tonic Here are the keys to the very best gin and tonic, the most refreshing 2-ingredient cocktail! A few secrets take this crisp, botanical drink over the top.
  • Tom Collins Cocktail This popular sweet sour cocktail is light and bubbly! Don’t forget the cherry.
  • Whiskey Sour This is the best whiskey sour recipe you’ll find: perfectly balanced and sweet tart! Or try a Boston sour for a variation with a frothy top.
  • Best Mimosa The best mimosa recipe! This one’s made with Italian Prosecco, orange juice, and a dash of Cointreau for the perfect bubbly citrus flavor.

Last updated: August 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Can I use any other fruit juice beside lime. We have an orange tree outside, can we use orange juice, or any other fruit as far as that goes?

    1. Hi! You could do it right before serving, otherwise the ginger beer will lose it’s fizz. The same proportions would work.

      You could also premix the vodka and lime juice, then just add ginger beer to each mug.


  2. We’re wondering about the phrase “a copper mug or glass.” We don’t think that a copper glass exists; thus, it should read “a copper mug or a glass.”

  3. If I may, how the Moscow Mule came to pass. Sophie Berezinski had immigrated to the US from Russia in hopes of selling her family-made copper mugs. Having little success at sales (but meeting her husband, Max) in New York, she headed west.

    The stars aligned at the Cock ‘n Bull pub on Sunset Blvd, where bar owner Jack Morgan and Jack Martin were working out their business dilemmas. Jack Morgan was trying to sell his homemade ginger beer–a favorite in England but hard to brew demand for in the US. Jack Martin had purchased American rights to the Smirnoff distillery. Martin was having an equally difficult time selling vodka in a post-war America.

    In walks Sophie with her handcrafted copper mugs, and the three get to the task of combining their products–and a squeeze of lime–to create one of the most iconic classic cocktails. Ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice: the Moscow Mule cocktail is perfect in its simplicity.

    However, a Moscow Mule is not complete without an original Moscow Mule copper mug. The copper uplifts the carbonation and delights the senses with a cool touch to match the cocktail within.