The Moscow Mule is one of the best drinks for any social occasion for three reasons; it comes in an elegant copper mug that is always a conversation starter, it tastes surprisingly good, and it packs a mean punch of alcohol. My dad tries to tell me “a standard drink has one shot”, nonsense! A standard Moscow Mule has at least two shots if it’s a light pour, but for the most part I try to get three lucky shots in the mug.
 
When at a family party or a party with your parents’ friends, how often are you asked the awkward questions of “do you have a girlfriend? what’s you major? do you have a job post-graduation? what’s the meaning of life?” I guarantee the Moscow Mule can easily get you out of this situation. Old people love young people that can make fun drinks, it is quite literally an instant conversation for at least 10 minutes as they talk about reliving their college days and how awesome they were before kids.

The Drink

The Moscow Mule is a simple drink with a low barrier to entry. It is similar to making pizza: it’s pretty easy to make a decent Moscow Mule and hard to mess up but can take years of practice and sampling to perfect. I will explain how to make my favorite and crowd pleaser Moscow Mule. This recipe is a hit with me, my parents, my friends, my family; basically, everyone with a palate.

The Mug

There is one cardinal rule of the Moscow Mule, “Thou shall not drink a Moscow Mule unless served in a copper mug.” If you ever go to a bar and they try to serve you a Moscow Mule without a copper mug, send the drink back and get a White Claw (the bartender clearly does not know what he/she is doing). Not only is the copper mug very aesthetic, but it makes the drink taste significantly better (trust me, it’s science.) When my parents sent me off sophomore year to live in Nicholas Towers, they made sure to pack a few copper mugs. It is a lifelong investment that will get plenty of use.

The Ginger Beer

(Photo: From left to right Bundaberg, Fever-Tree, Jamaica’s Finest)
 
Easily the most important ingredient, the ginger beer can make or break a Moscow Mule. A high-quality and properly sourced ginger beer elevates the Moscow Mule from a Toyota to a Lexus. Posted above are my favorite three ginger beers each with their own unique taste. Ginger beers have two important criteria when evaluating which one to select. First, the ‘spiciness’ and strength of ginger. For example, Bundaberg has a classic ginger taste (think the ginger when ordering sushi) while Jamaica’s finest has almost a sweet tang. This is ultimately a personal choice, which means you must drink many different Moscow Mules with different ginger beers. Secondly, the ‘bubbles’ or carbonation level. Ginger beers can vary greatly on this front, the range varies from the muted bubbles when opening a Pellegrino bottle to shaking a liter of Coke. If you know me, I love my bubbles, so I tend to find ginger beers with a strong spice level and high carbonation (Alpha Move.)
By far, after all my taste tests, my favorite ginger beer is Jamaica’s Finest.

The Other Ingredients

In all honesty, the other ingredients are just not as important as the ginger beer and copper mug. Vodka is needed, but nothing special. Stick away from the plastic bottles since we are no longer degenerates but at the same time grey goose would be a waste. Generally, recommend Smirnoff, New Amsterdam, or Svedka. The mint should be fresh with the leaves appearing healthy and having a strong scent. We make enough Moscow Mules and Mojitos in the Bhaskar household that we invested in a small mint tree. Finally, the limes. Rule of thumb is between ½ a lime to a full lime per Moscow Mule (more explained on this below.)

Making The Drink

Step 1: The Basics

Fill the copper mug to the brim with ice, try to use large cubes as they melt slower and will not water down the drink. Now comes the fun part, add the vodka! Put AT LEAST two shots in, but I guarantee you will have a better time with three.

Step 2: Adding The Lime

Before cutting the lime, roll the lime on a hard surface and bang slightly. This releases all the juices and adds a little extra zing (again, this is science.) There are two ways of adding the lime to the Moscow Mule. The first is the classic method, simply cut the lime in half and squeeze both sides into the drink (reference video below.)
The second method for getting fresh lime juice is using a lime press which is more efficient and allows for greater flexibility. The two main advantages of using a lime press is that one lime can now be used for two Moscow Mules and second, there is greater control with how much lime to add. Normally I go 50/50 with this method and put half the lime in one Mule and the other half in the other. However, if the drink is ‘too strong’ adding a bit of extra lime juice usually cuts the taste of vodka.

Step 3: Finishing Touches

Take the mint, make sure to wash it because #coronavirus, and slap it (seriously slap the mint.) This legitimately brings out more flavor and a strong smell of mint; once again trust me it is science. Add about a handful of mint to the Moscow Mule. Finally, top to the brim with the ginger beer and enjoy.

Final Thoughts

The Moscow Mule is an amazing drink and very simple to make. It has always been a crowd pleaser, whether at a classic Nicholas Towers 707 party or an evening with my parents and old bosses. The drink ‘opens’ up people’s fun side and allows for amazing memories to be created.

Biggest Takeaway: Invest in a copper mug.

Trusted Insights from a fellow Mixologist

“A good copper mug is essential… the ice also should be slightly crushed up but not too much so it doesn’t melt too fast and water the drink down… Chilled Tito’s vodka and either Goslings or Fever Tree (if you like a little spice in the ginger) are great choices. I personally like fever tree since it does have that little spice to it… I also like cutting the lime into a slice not a wedge and putting it in and the give 3-4 mint leaves a stir in there to to mix it up. I’m also a big fan of seasonal mules especially a good cranberry mule in the winter” – Nick Pagonis

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