Cocktails Spirits

The Interesting History Behind the Moscow Mule

One of America's favourite cocktails was nearly never made.

The fates of three random individuals led to one of the most popular cocktails in America.

If you aren’t familiar with the Moscow Mule, it’s a now iconic mixture of vodka, ginger beer and lime all put together in the classic copper mug. The story all began in the 1940’s and if true, is just as much a matter of circumstance as it is incredibly well timed marketing.

First off we have the vodka, which by the original recipe is Smirnoff. Back in the 1940’s, Smirnoff was an incredibly small brand and had been purchased by entrepreneur John Martin, who had successfully launched A1 steak sauce. The problem was American’s had no interest in vodka, beer, whiskey, and other cocktails ruled the roost in America at this time. John was incredibly frustrated about the slow sales, and was venting this to the owner of the Cock ‘n’ Bull bar, Jack Morgan.

Funny enough, Jack had a similar problem trying to sell his brand of ginger beer. The two friends were discussing their mutual issues when in walked the last piece of the puzzle, Sophie Berezinski, the woman with the iconic copper mug.

Sophie’s father owned and operated a copper factory in Russia known as the Moscow Copper Co. Back in Russia, Sophie had created the design for the original copper mug. Neither Sophie nor her father were able to sell the mugs in Russia, so the decision was made that Sophie and the mugs would journey to America. Problem was, they couldn’t seem to sell the mugs there either.

So as Sophie was shopping around trying to unload 2,000 copper mugs, she just happened to walk into the right bar, at the right time. As Sophie would tell the story, the trio spent hours developing a drink that would bring together the fizzy nature of the ginger beer, the punch of the vodka, and the cold properties of copper to create the next great cocktail. After a number of taste tests and a few failed concoctions, they stumbled upon a recipe for a cocktail that would solve all their problems.

After that, the rest is history. Martin spent years helping spearhead the drink’s takeoff, sparking sales of both his vodka and the copper mug by going to bars and taking Polaroids of bartenders posing with both products. Now, it’s one of the best selling cocktails in America, and doesn’t feel complete without the copper mug.

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