Time for the first drink recipe! And a quick and easy one to start, with the cocktail that helped truly bring vodka into bars in the USA for the first time, the Moscow Mule.
A bit of history
The Moscow Mule has been around since 1941, with its invention credited to John G Martin, of Heublein Brothers Inc (an American spirits distributor who had recently obtained the rights to Smirnoff Vodka), and Jack Morgan, who owned a popular bar in LA called the Cock ‘n’ Bull Tavern. The world of cocktails was a very different place in 1941, with the war in Europe raging on and prohibition in the USA only recently coming to an end. Vodka as a spirit was relativly unheard of in North American bars and distillers and distributers were looking for a way to help it break into this lucrative market. Time for Martin and Morgan.
Morgan had recently started making his own ginger beer and Martin was trying to get his Smirnoff brand into bars. Together the two came up with the vodka/ginger beer combo, making perfect use of each others products. In a great marketing move they named this drink the Moscow Mule and served it in a copper mug; Martin set off around the country promoting the cocktail (and thus, the main ingredient, Smirnoff), and low and behold, vodka had finally got its long awaited entry into American bars.
Making the Moscow Mule
You will need:
- Highball glass/ Collins glass
- 50ml Vodka
- 25ml fresh Lime juice/limes
- Ginger Beer
- Angustora bitters*
Take your highball glass and use your measure to pour in 50ml Vodka (the brand is unnecessary, although I’d avoid using anything you’ve paid a lot for as it will be lost in other ingredients). Next, grab your citrus press and squeeze in 25ml of fresh lime juice (the lime juice is key – it will add a necessary sour character to the drink).
So far we have vodka and lime; if you were to taste the cocktail now it would be what we describe as unbalanced, in that the sweet:sour ratio would be off. Therefore, it’s time for the sweetener. Many cocktails we’ll make use a sugar syrup or liqueur to get the sweet component to the sweet:sour balance but for the Moscow Mule we’re going to get our sweetness from the sugar in the ginger beer instead.
So fill your highball with ice (as much as you can fit – the more ice you have, the colder the drink will be. It’ll melt slower as well!) and top up with your ginger beer. The quality of your ginger beer is going to have a big effect on the taste of the overall drink so try and avoid the bland store-brand varieties if you can – we want that nice, spicy kick from the ginger.
Garnish with a nice big lime wedge and a straw.
* Many bars will add Angustora bitters to a Moscow Mule, it certainly adds to the overall flavour of the cocktail so after you’ve made this first version try remaking the drink with a couple of dashes of bitters and see which one you prefer (and now you have two drinks… for science!). Be careful not to add to much as aromatic bitters have a very strong taste, as with all ingredients, it’s better to add a small amount and then add more if necessary.