MULE COCKTAILS: ...have been popular since the 1940s in American cocktail culture. The versatility of this cocktail has made it viable for any type of season. The component of ginger can be used to help an upset stomach or just as a refreshing libation. This is just one of the reasons why this cocktail has had a recent resurgence in bars and restaurants today, and will continue to trend upward in orders from parched patrons. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about a Moscow Mule.
A MULE? The Moscow “Mule” is actually a drink that falls under the “buck” category of drinks. Any drink utilizing a high ball glass and ginger beer would be considered a “buck”. The legend of why a “buck” got its name is based upon the history of the Wild West. When a stubborn horse or mule wouldn’t move, someone would strategically place a piece of ginger root on the animal, causing it to buck and kick, and ultimately get a move on. This was typically done during the sale of an older horse, making it look younger and more energetic.
HISTORY OF THE MULE? Well-known Author and Cocktail Historian, David Wondrich, was noted saying... “Spending too much time with the history of cocktails can give you as big a headache as spending too much time with the drinks themselves.” It’s been said that the Mule was invented in 1940 in Hollywood California. John G. Martin an executive for the Heublein drinks company was said to be drinking one of his newly acquired products, Smirnoff Vodka, at a popular British style pub named “Cock ‘n’ Bull. Jack Morgan the owner of the pub and Martin were imbibing some inebriants when they pondered what would happen if they brought two products that they were having trouble selling together. So the two sat down and created a classic. They took one part of Martin’s vodka, two parts of Morgan’s ginger beer, and mixed the two together with citrus of lime and lemon. After the right amount of dilution and chilling the drink, the Moscow Mule was born. This story has been disputed many times, with even the head bartender of the “Cock ‘n’ Bull” claiming that the drink was his recipe and was stolen by Martin. Regardless, the Moscow Mule became one of the most popular drinks of the 40’s and 50’s.
HOW TO MARKET THE MULE: To market the Moscow Mule, thetwo turned to a friend with a copper factory who just happened to have too many copper mugs lying around and they engraved the mugs with thenames of famous celebrities who frequented the Cock n’ Bull. In 1947 the first Polaridi Land Camera was invented. This was the first instant camera, and Martin took full advantage of the product. Martin would go to the bar featuring his copper mule mug, and take a picture of the bartender and famous and influential people imbibing them. He would give a copy to said bartender so that he could show others that only the wealthy and influential partook in the copper elixir. He would then go to the next bar with more photographs inhand to show the competition how popular the concoction was. This made the drink catch on in a big way, and propelled Vodka into a formidable sprit in America’s marketplace. The drink was popular until a backlash from the Cold War in the 60’s because it was seen as a marketing ploy for communism.
GINGER BEER OR GINGER ALE...WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Ginger root has been utilized since the 15th century for medicinal purposes in ancient China and India. The ginger beer originated in England in the 1800’s. It is brewed with ginger, sugar, water, lemon juice and bacteria named “ginger beer plant” instead of a yeast. These bacteria being utilized are from the same micro-organism family as yeast, and they too create CO2 and alcohol. Original ginger beer contained alcohol, but no more than eleven percent. Ginger ale was supposedly invented in 1851 in Ireland, but the version that we know today was made in Canada by a man named John McLaughlin by carbonating water and ginger flavoring that we now know today as “Canada Dry”. Most ginger beer today is classified as non-alcoholic because the beverage has less than .05 percent alcohol by volume, but there are still alcoholic versions still available.
THE ICE: Ice plays a key role in any cocktail. Moscow Mules are generally made utilizing crushed ice. The reason for crushed ice in this cocktail is due to dilution of the drink. If a cube of ice is not completely submerged in liquid, the ice will dilute the drink without any of the chilling effect. Copper is a heat conductor, and using this for your concoction tends to heat the drink faster, but utilizing crushed ice will adapt the temperature more quickly than large chunks or cubes of ice. Using the copper mug there will be a lot more surface area for the cubes or chunks to dilute the drink without chilling it. This process can be stopped by utilizing crushed ice in the drink. Since the mug is copper, any heat applied to the mug from your hand will be distributed to the whole mug, thus taking longer to bring the drink to room temperature. Therefore the drink and the copper mug will still be chilled for the duration of consumption.
PUT A LIME IN THE. . . Lime juice has been a fundamental ingredient in cocktails since during the days of prohibition. During prohibition the quality of spirit from bootleggers, rumrunners and moonshiners were questionable at best. The products that were being imported and made in domestically had a higher quantity of poisonous material. At one point during prohibition, 90% of all alcohol contained some sort of poisonous material and thousands of people had died from it. To make the spirits more palatable to the consumer, the bartenders at these speakeasies would add fresh juice to the cocktail. This method of making a cocktail more palatable for the masses continued well after prohibition ended, and continues today.
NOT JUST A MOSCOW MULE ANYMORE: It’s important to know that all things change with time. Ok, so they might not change totally, but they do a get a few twists along the way. With the way mixologists are these days, Vodka is now being substituted with any and all other spirits, just as any type of fruit can be used instead of limes. These new style of mules also get new names. There are many variations of a “Buck” cocktail. One of the most famous versions is utilizing dark rum and calling it a “Dark and Stormy”. The base of the drink will remain the same, but utilizing different flavors can accentuate the flavor profile of what you want for your drink. Try versions with rye whiskey, bourbon, gin, sake, aquavit and more. The beauty of cocktails is that there is no wrong answer to what you are making, as long as it’s balanced and tastes good. After all, we’re not saving the world here, just making it a little more fun.
If you haven’t taken the steps to introduce mule cocktails into your establishment, you just might be missing out on giving your customers yet another enjoyable drinking experience. If you need some assistance, just contact your SWS Sales Representative so they can introduce you to the many SWS Spirits Specialist who can concoct unique recipes for your place of business today!