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This Moscow mule recipe pairs simple ingredients for big impact! Vodka, ginger beer and lime make one classic drink.

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 has never gone out of style. It’s got just 3 ingredients and you can build it right in the glass, making it perfect for parties or a lazy evening drink. As expert mixologists and authors of over 300 cocktail recipes, the mule is a drink we never tire of! Here’s how to make this refreshing vodka cocktail.

Moscow mule ingredients

A Moscow mule is a classic cocktail invented in the 1940’s, made with vodka and ginger beer and traditionally served in a copper mug. It’s part of a family of cocktails called bucks, which are drinks made with liquor, ginger ale or ginger beer, and citrus juice. So, the drink is also known as a vodka buck! The ingredients for a Moscow mule recipe are:

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4 oz ginger beer
  • ½ oz lime juice

How to make a Moscow 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 bubbles, simply build the drink right in the mug, served over ice. This makes it one of the easiest cocktail recipes you can find, and quick and easy to mix up for parties. Here’s how to make a Moscow mule:

  1. Pour 2 ounces vodka and ½ ounce lime juice into a copper mug.
  2. Add 4 ounces ginger beer.
  3. Garnish. Add ice cubes, and garnish with lime wedges or a sprig of mint. It’s that simple!
Moscow mule

The history behind the drink

The Moscow mule was invented around 1940 by Smirnoff executive John Martin and his friend businessman Jack Morgan, as a ploy to sell vodka and ginger beer. Martin claims the cocktail was invented at Morgan’s bar the Cock‘n Bull in Los Angeles in 1940.

Martin and Morgan are both credited as having invented the drink, as a solution for selling Cock’n Bull’s house made ginger beer and a surplus of vodka, which was not selling because the spirit wasn’t yet popular in America. However, it’s likely that Cock’n Bull bartender Wes Price was the person responsible for the actual drink creation, per a 2007 Wall Street Journal article and other sources. Whatever the case, the quickly drink caught on and brought a small fortune to both Martin and Morgan.

Why are Moscow mules served in copper mugs?

Moscow mules are traditionally served in a copper cup or copped mug for a few reasons:

  • 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 and more refreshing.
  • Copper mugs are traditional. There is some controversy around why the Moscow mule is served in a copper mug, and whether the mugs came from a German woman named Oseline Schmidt or a Russian immigrant named Sophie Berezinski. Whatever the case, people in Hollywood fell in love with it and soon 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.
Moscow mule

Where to find copper mugs

The best choice for copper mugs for a mule is solid copper. This is the best way to get that a refreshingly cold sip, so steer clear of other metals with a copper veneer. Moscow mule copper mugs make great gifts, especially as wedding gifts for couples who love to make great cocktails. Here’s a set of solid copper Moscow mule mugs we recommend.

Don’t have a copper mug? No problem. This Moscow mule recipe tastes good in any type of cup or glass. Use a lowball glass, jar, or a standard mug.

Best vodka for a Moscow mule

The best vodka for a Moscow mule? Use a mid-priced vodka, avoiding very inexpensive or high-end vodka. The ginger beer and lime flavors in a Moscow mule are very strong and can overpower a great vodka. Brands like Tito’s and Smirnoff work well here, as well as mid-range brands like Grey Goose vodka.

Avoid vodka that is very cheap for a Moscow mule, in the $10 to $15 per 750 ml bottle range. Low quality vodka can ruin the flavor of the drink.

Best ginger beer for a Moscow mule

For the best flavor for a Moscow mule, look for ginger beer made with real ginger, without artificial flavors or sweeteners.

Q Ginger Beer has great flavor and is made with real ginger. It comes in small cans so you don’t have to open a large bottle. Fever Tree Ginger Beer also has great flavor; it’s made with real ginger and has no artificial sweeteners. Here’s a list of more top ginger beer brands.

Moscow mule

Variations on the mule

The Moscow mule is such an iconic drink that it’s spawned many variations. Changing the type of liquor makes different types of mules, or fruit juices or herbs can be added to make seasonal flavors. Here are some of the most popular Moscow mule variations:

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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

Description

This Moscow mule recipe pairs simple ingredients for big impact! Vodka, ginger beer and lime make one classic drink.


Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Pour the vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer into a copper mug. 
  2. Add ice and garnish with a lime slice. Serve immediately.

Notes

*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Moscow Mule, Moscow Mule Recipe, Moscow mule ingredients

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.

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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13 Comments

  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.

      Enjoy!

  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.

  4. I just made 4 batches of this dough for a MYO wood fired pizza night, and I love how simple the recipe is. The dough seems to be rising nicely. More than anything I wanted to compliment your site. I appreciate the option to keep my screen up while cooking, as I use my IPad on a stand while doing it. Also the ease with which I can size up the recipes AND a “Jump to recipe” option at the top. 👏👏👏