Moscow Mule Secrets

Secrets of Moscow Mule History

Moscow Mule is not the first vodka-based cocktail. That distinction belongs to another cocktail Blue Monday, according to the English Savoy bar book in 1930. But Moscow Mule is no doubt the most famous one. The unusual and unexpected combination of Vodka and ginger beer within a copper mug create a legend, that leaded the Vodka burst in 1940s.

Before Moscow Mule Vodka was a relatively unknown spirit outside Russia that time. People preferred some drink with little power, Vodka is too strong. At that moment John Martin, one of the co-inventors of Moscow Mule, was in charge of a company named Heublein. He had just got the Smirnoff brand, which had its own origins in Moscow in the mid 1860s, and production right for his company. But thing did not go smoothly as wished, the market refused this Russia style drink. He was just in struggling to increase the selling of this high spirit. cock_n_bull

This is where the legend beganCock ‘N’ Bull bar in Sunset Boulevard

Some stories about Moscow Mule history told us: One day Martin had just stepped into Cock ’n’ Bull bar located in Sunset Boulevard to meet his friend Jack Morgan, who also acted as the manager of this bar. Morgan had a frustrate selling of his home made ginger beer, just the same as Martin. The most confusing is that there were at lest three versions about the third person who witnessed the first creation of Moscow Mule.

  1. The girlfriend of Morgan, according to John Martin’s interview video (list below)
  2. The president of the Pierre Smirnoff Heublein’s vodka division, Rudolph Kunett.
    According to the book “Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail by Grimes William.
  3. A friend X of them who had inherited a large collection of copper mugs.
    According to the book “Field Guide to Cocktails: How to Identify and Prepare Virtually Every Mixed Drink at the Bar” by Rob Chirico. That is my favorite part, but also the most doubtful part.It is too obvious and dramatic to begin a legend.

Martin and Morgan had their minds on their vodka and ginger, Martin sparked some inventive genius to mix these two drinks together, and shake with a massive dose of ice cubes. Adding a wedge of lime then the miracle is done. So you can barely regard the creation of Moscow Mule as an invention, but likely an accident. Because of the kick of the ginger beer, this cocktail was nicknamed as Mule initially. After four or five ground the mixture was finally christened as Moscow Mule.

The Truth Was Deeply Buried

Another story about Moscow Mule was totally different. According to a 2007 article in the Wall Street Journal penned by the reliable Eric Felton, the Cock ‘n’ Bull’s head bartender Wes Price also claimed to the recipe. And I’m inclined to believe a bartender over a marketer; I believe the drink to have been created by some bartender.

Because no one involved in the first creation story ever explained where the name came from. But, it’s really quite obvious. The “Mule” is, itself, a class of mixed drink, which refers to liquor mixed with lime and ginger beer. Only bartenders would know enough to not only name it properly, but disguise his intentions from non-bartenders.


This youtube video is fiction of invention by Mule fans


Promotion and Reborn

Maybe Martin was not the inventor, but he did something even most important than the creation in the Moscow Mule History. After invention of Moscow Mule, Martin made Moscow Mule the most successful marketing ploys in tippling history.

In 1947 Martin was back from World War Two, and continued to peddle his vodka and his cocktail to bars across the country. Martin acquired a Polaroid camera ,a new invention for instant picture that days. At each bar he would stop at to sell his vodka, he would take two pictures of the barman holding the bottle of Smirnoff in one hand, and the Moscow Mule in the other. One picture he would leave at the bar, while the second he would show to a competitor down the street, ensuring the competitive juices of the new barkeep would convince him to buy a product that another bar was selling. It was marketing genius.

Some movie stars such as Woody Allen had even been hired to promote his concoction drink. Between 1947 and 1950, sales of Smirnoff vodka tripled, as well as doubled again by 1951. By all these efforts Martin made the Moscow Mule the most popular cocktail.

As other popular things the Moscow Mule has fade out as time goes on and had even entered the “endangered species list”. But with retro fashion rises up Moscow Mule re emerge in many restaurant and bars. craft cocktail revolution of the early 2000′s indicated that Moscow Mule made its way back into the bartender’s lexicon, and for good reason… its delicious.

So, what’s old is new again, even the concept of using copper mugs to market the Moscow mule. the young American become new fans of this old traditional cocktail. and bring it into the other regions globally. Moscow Mule is not only an American drink, now it is loved by Brazilian, Japanese, Cuban and even Russian.