Eat Like a Geek: The Moscow Mule

Image: RedEnvelope.com

Okay, so technically this is “drink like a geek”–and, right off the bat, let’s make it clear this is not a recipe for the kiddos (though you can certainly omit the alcohol, and you’d be good to go). In our house, we’re always looking for geeky adult beverages. I prefer things bourbon- and whiskey-based, but my husband Michael discovered this delicious concoction that’s quite good, and uses vodka. Its name? The Moscow Mule.

The drink itself dates back to 1941, when it was invented by “Jack” Morgan, who was President of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products (you can’t make this stuff up) and, not surprisingly, a producer of ginger beer. He and two others (including Rudolph Kunett, president of the Pierre Smirnoff, Heublein’s vodka division), in his words as quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, were “quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d’oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius.” The drink was a sensation, and was particularly popular among Hollywood stars and Hollywood would-be stars.

The recipe is simple: vodka, lime, and ginger beer (or, as many use, ale). Add bitters if you dare (we do). The Epicurious recipe is just about what we do. Since we have a Sodastream, we make good use of it.

  • 1 half lime
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 4 to 6 ounces ginger beer, preferably homemade or Cock’n Bull or D&G Old Jamaica brands

Squeeze lime into Collins glass (or copper mug) and drop in half lime. Add 2 or 3 large ice cubes, then pour in the vodka and fill with cold ginger beer. Serve with a stirring rod.

Why does it work? A lot of it has to do with the vodka itself. J.J. Goode at Epicurious puts it better than I can:

That this fortuitous ingredient combination succeeded demonstrates one of vodka’s most appealing qualities. After the spirit is distilled (most often from grain, not, as is commonly believed, from potato), it’s filtered through charcoal to remove both flavor and aroma; the resulting neutral spirit can be mixed with almost anything. Yet rampant misuse of this neutrality — the substituting of vodka where flavorful, aromatic spirits belong — has inspired a backlash from bartenders devoted to reviving those drinks that vodka has wrongly occupied.

My two cents? It’s an ideal late Summer, early Fall drink because it blends ginger (the harbinger of all things marvelous about autumnal cooking) and limes (like little rays of sunshine). And, as mentioned, you don’t have to dig deep into your pockets for the top shelf stuff. It’s perfectly suited for run-of-the-mill labels.

But there’s also one important thing to add. For true authenticity, there’s one more ingredient: the copper mug. It’s as iconic as the drink itself and, I can attest, adds a brightness to the flavor (subtle, coppery penny taste) that is a lovely zing.

Image by Natania Barron

It just so happened that I’d recently been on the lookout for one of these mugs for my husband, as his birthday’s on the way and he’s notoriously hard to shop for. Being a blogger, we often get a variety of review requests, and when one came from RedEnvelope for a Moscow Mule mug, I jumped at the chance.

I’m happy to report that their mug is not only beautiful (I’m a raven by nature, and it’s so shiny!) but functional. Not to mention it adds a very geeky sense of authenticity. It’s a sturdy size, it feels great in the hand, and even comes monogrammed if you like. Additional coolness, since it’s 100% copper, it’ll patina with time. We’re big fans, here. It’s also reasonably priced, at $39.95–I’ve seen similar mugs for much, much more. The cool thing with RedEnvelope, too, is that they do the wrapping for you, which is a bonus (in this house finding unique gifts alone is a nightmare, let alone getting them wrapped… this is why I keep a stash of reusable bags on hand at all times). You can purchase this ideal Moscow Mule mug at their website.

So what’s stopping you? Raise a glass with your Moscow Mule, and welcome in the new season.

I received a mug for review purposes.

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Natania Barron is a Gryffindor, a Took, and a Greyjoy (mostly because of the squid).