The Moscow Mule: spicy, zingy and popular all over the world since its creation in 1941! So have you ever thought of putting your own twist on this classic cocktail? Leading UK bartender, James Fowler, takes a look at the history of this famous serve and offers his own twists to get you started.

Who created the Moscow Mule?

There are a few different stories about how this drink came about but the most popular claims that the cocktail was created in 1941. At the time, whisky was more popular than vodka in the USA and most Americans didn’t know what ginger beer was. It is said that John Martin (owner of Smirnoff at the time) and his friend, Jack Morgan, who owned a pub in L.A. and had created his own ginger beer, decided to put the two ingredients together to help sell their goods! Interestingly, one of the men’s girlfriends had recently inherited a factory that produced copper mugs – the final touch to creating the classic it became. In terms of the name, some have suggested that ‘Moscow’ was chosen due to vodka’s association with Russia and ‘Mule’ was added because the ginger beer add an extra kick of flavour to the drink.

Next, the two Moscow Mule inventors hit the road, showing other bartenders their creation. Legend has it they would snap a picture of the bartender creating a Moscow Mule then show that photo to the next bar. The two men kept this cycle going and by 1943 the Moscow Mule had taken the USA by storm!

The Moscow Mule has seen a big resurge in recent years, with this famous cocktail celebrating its 75th anniversary last year. It’s a simple mix of vodka, fresh lime and ginger beer which creates a zingy, spicy and enjoyable flavour combination that is a firm favourite all over the world. Using this classic combination as a base, you can easily twist this cocktail by playing with different spirits and substituting the lime with other citrus flavours.

Why twist a Moscow Mule?

As much as creating brand-new drinks is great, there is always a charm in exploring the classics. Customers are more likely to try cocktail they know, so by putting your own twist on a classic, you get to be creative but also get your customers to try something new!

Here are a few twists on the Moscow Mule that I have created which follow the same style of a simple built mule. Each serve contains ginger beer, which in terms of flavour is the key element of any mule.

Shoot the Mule

Named after the way the cocktail was taken from bar to bar with a picture of a bartender making the Moscow Mule. Armed with a picture and a bottle of Smirnoff, this effective marketing influenced the spread of the drink across the USA.

Bourbon works really well with Rhubarb – it’s a favourite combination of mine and adds a subtle bitterness to the mule.

50ml BULLEIT BOURBON WHISKEY

25ml Rhubarb puree

10ml Lemon juice

Ginger beer to top up

METHOD

Build the drink in a glass with cubed ice.

Stir the first three ingredients thoroughly before topping with ginger beer.

Garnish with a few shards of cooked rhubarb.

(2.3 standard drinks*- 1.6 units per serve)

Raging Mule

Chilli and raspberry is a great flavour combination and gives this mule a bit more spice and heat.

50ml DON JULIO BLANCO TEQUILA

5 Slices of red chilli cut into 5mm pieces

15 ml Fresh lime juice

15ml Raspberry puree

Ginger beer to top up

METHOD

Start with the chilli and raspberry puree in a copper mug (lined – you should avoid serving drinks that are actually in contact with copper) or a tall glass.

Muddle to extract some of the heat from the chilli.

Add the lime juice and tequila.

Fill the mug with fresh cubed ice and fill to top with ginger beer.

Garnish with whole raspberry and a slice of red chilli.

(2 standard drinks*- 1.6 units per serve)

Whey to go

Drier on the palate with a more delicate flavour profile makes this serve perfect as an aperitif.

50ml SMIRNOFF NO. 21 VODKA

40ml Fino Sherry

40ml Fresh Whey

20ml Lemon Juice

10ml Gomme

Ginger beer to top up

METHOD

Build all the ingredients in the glass filled with fresh cubed ice.

Top with ginger beer and serve with a sweet pickled carrot.

(2.5 standard drinks*- 2.8 units per serve)

Holiday Moscow Mule

The simple additional of some winter fruits and herbs is a great seasonal twist on the original Moscow Mule.

50ml SMIRNOFF NO. 21 VODKA

150ml Ginger Beer

3 Cranberries

1 Orange Slice

1 Rosemary sprig

METHOD

Fill a copper mug with cubed ice.

Add SMIRNOFF NO.21 VODKA.

Top with ginger beer.

Squeeze in fresh orange and stir.

Garnish with cranberries, an orange slice and a rosemary sprig.

(2 standard drinks – 1.6 units per serve)

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(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)