The Moscow Mule/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

By request and for my own curiosity, for my fascination with ginger beer, and most, my compulsion to SCREAM … indoor voice, Michael … deep breath … if you’re going to drink vodka, either admit you simply want to mainline alcohol (not a judgment! I’m there frequently myself!), or drink vodka that actually has flavor, such Ohio’s own OYO made from soft red winter wheat grown near its Columbus distillery.

The Standard Bartender’s Guide, revised and enlarged by James A. Beard (originally published in 1940, before the Moscow Mule existed), instructs simply this:

“Squeeze into a 12-ounce glass 1/2 Lime and drop in the Rind. Add ice cubes and 1-1/2 jiggers Vodka and fill with Ginger Beer. Stir and serve.”

How easy is that?! (Verdict: cool, light, and very refreshing!)

From the VTR menu:

“Born of a legendary 1941 brainstorming meeting between Smirnoff’s American distributor and Jack Morgan of the infamous Cock ’n’ Bull Tavern, this is the cocktail that ignited the American craze for vodka. Vodka, extra spicy ginger beer and lime juice, served on the rocks in a copper cup to stay extra cold.”

We celebrate Memorial Day to recognize the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. Bless their souls, as my Grandma Rose would say. She lost her oldest, Robert, during World War II; he was killed on ski patrol on a mountain in Italy. I regret never meeting my Uncle Bob. At 17, he was already a gifted artist, recruited into propaganda, but he wanted to fight and lied to enlist early.

But enough (go read or reread Tim O’Brien’s masterpiece on war and story and the evil obscenity that is war, The Things They Carried).

This Memorial Day I will celebrate the end of my bachelordom, married to Donna 22 years on Saturday! Thanks for the pix and so, so much else, my love.

Happy Friday, all! And cheers and best wishes for a relaxing and commemorative Memorial Day weekend.

Moscow Mule

  • Fat wedge of lime
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • Ginger beer as needed (4 ounces or so)
  1. Squeeze the lime into a highball glass and plop the squeezed lime into the juice.
  2. Pour in the vodka.
  3. Fill the glass with ice and top it off with ginger beer.

Previous cocktail posts for your reference: the mighty Martini, probably the greatest cocktail ever, and one of the oldest and best for its simplicity, the Old-Fashioned.

If you liked this post on the Moscow Mule, check out these other links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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37 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: Moscow Mule”

  • the barking dog

    “Clear alcohol is for rich women on diets” – Ron Swanson

    Though personally, I do love a good G&T.

  • Jason W. Hamner

    Ginger beer is awesome… though I think I prefer rum or whiskey as my alcohol with it. Last night at Highland Kitchen in Somerville MA I had a “Mark and Stormy” which is Marker’s Mark (natch) and a really cool chili infused ginger beer (which I think I need to learn how to make).

  • allen

    Happy aniversary, I hope you pair the beverage with the fantastic tomatoe garlic pasta.
    I’ve had the dark & stormy with ginger beer, my warm weather beverage was gin & tonic.
    Can we get a double dose of cocktail post for the long weekend? Thanks for the book reference, Ill put it in my que. Cheers/ peace, happy long relaxing weekend to all!

  • Carole

    Silly question. Is ginger beer real beer? Or is it like root beer?

  • Marty

    I love your Friday cocktail series. I’ve made almost each one to kick off the weekend with my husband. Thank you for doing all the work for me, and happy anniversary!

  • Kristen England

    Ginger beer is like root beer. The wife and I got married in Jamaica 6 years ago and go hooked. I make my own as its hard to find really good and spicy ginger beer…plus its very easy and cheap and you can make it sugar free if you want. I can provide a recipe and technique if anyone cares.

    Anyway, I want my ginger beer to taste like it, not other things and maybe some ginger…The easy ones to find, for me anyway are listed below with some notes.
    – Barrits Ginger – almost as good as the D&G.
    – D&G Old Jamaican Ginger Beer – the spiciest and best original. usually find in Asian or African markets.
    – Fentimans – Its ok. Lacks pop and is expensive.
    – Fever-tree – pretty good, bloody expensive.
    – Fresh Ginger by Bruce Cost – pretty damn good. Not to spendy
    – Goslings – meh.
    – Reed’s – they have 3 or 4. The Extra is ‘ok’. Stay away from the Premium.
    – Vernors – Reminds me of throwing up as a kid…pretty much tastes like it.

    Again, you should be making your own though…

    • Alex

      You can’t tease us like that and not give the recipe! I’m interested in the ginger beer recipe. Please post it (or a link to it) if you can.


    • Allen

      This is very hard to find on the W. coast, other than Reeds. I’ve taken to making my own too, much easier than root beer which requires a large amount of hard to find roots. the recipes I’ve found in Grit magazine, Mother Earth News and Thank you. Please post you recipes soon,looking forward to it.

  • Doug

    Another good ginger beer is Bundaberg. Cost Plus World Market carries them.

    • joellaco

      Thanks for that tip, Bundaberg is what made me fall in love with ginger beer. I was reading this thinking I have good vodka in the freezer, now where could I possibly get as good a ginger beer? Now I now. Gotta go to the market now.

      If you want to have a go at making ginger beer this Mother Earth News article might be helpful:

      • Allen

        I’ve made this recipe, Grit magazine and have recipes too, much easier than root beer. Just be very respectful of the natural carbonation. I gave a large 2 liter bale top bottle of root beer to my neighbor. He loved it and was going to share it with company for dinner. He opened the bottle, boom!, All but 1/4 cup remained in the bottle, the rest went all over the kitchen ceiling, walls and company. Cursed to this day for that attempt at being generous.

  • joelfinkle

    I’m a bit of a ginger beer fanatic, and prefer Rum / Dark and Stormy to Vodka (although with a tasty Vodka that might change, I just haven’t found one yet). I disagree with the poster above that Gosling’s is “meh” — it’s got a strong cane sugar flavor, although its gingeriness is not as strong as others such as Barritts (which has a tonic-water bitterness). I am not fond of “spicy” ginger beers enhanced with chiles (e.g. Goya’s) — this should be a refreshing drink, not a warming one. If it’s spicy, it should just be the intensity of the ginger.

    • Kristen England


      I didn’t mean Goslings was bad as a beverage. Its just really sugary sweet without much ginger character. I’m also not a fan of people putting things in my ginger beer that make them spicy or weird. IMO, ginger should be the star of the show.

  • Jeremy Hulley

    I’ve been making my own ginger beer since last summer. Its awesome and easy even with bread yeast.

  • Carly

    “Moscow Mule” is one of those things I’ve always heard of and never knew or really questioned what it was, and I have to say I don’t think I ever would’ve guessed it involved ginger beer.

    Appreciate the O’Brien rec as well; that story just wrecks me.

  • Richard Scholtz

    Michael, thanks for taking my suggestion!!
    One of the important factors is to use a good ginger beer. Maine Root is pretty good, and makes a tasty drink. Do not, for love of all that is holy, use Canada Dry Ginger Ale. It will taste flat, and you will be sorely disappointed.

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    forgetting the topic True Ginger Beer, in Montreal can be found at a new family Organic Market exit 31 off the 15 Mirabel. This market is an absolute pleasure to walk around in and you can find all meats from Bison to Rabbit to Horse Meat. (having owned a race horse I cannot get my head around the Quebecois desire for this) I saw the Ginger Beer but until now didn’t know what to do with it. So since I am there again on Saturday, I will buy it and get sloshed Saturday nite and it will be in your honour of the Ruhlman’s anniversary

    • Allen

      Natalie, thank you for the referral, I’ve been looking all over Vancouver B C for horse meat with no luck. While I respect your aversion to trying it, I’ve heard it makes great bresaola, very llean and has good flavor.
      A lot of people have pigs for pets too, but please allow the meat to be put to good use, it’s a lot of waste and actually honors the animal. I’ll bet they have good curds for poutine at that market too! Thank you.

  • Kyle

    I LOVE Moscow Mules. Especially when bars serve them in copper mugs. I had a bartender friend get me a pair. Think it gives the drink a unique presentation.

    My favorite addition to the traditional recipe: muddled mint! So delicious.

  • Carolyn J. Phillips

    I never get over how good the photography is here. Donna Turner Ruhlman always manages to capture the essence of the article with lovely prisms of light sparking everywhere, the colors muted yet brilliant. Yes, I come for the terrific recipes (and this topic has me reminiscing of the time I made a huge batch of Diana Kennedy’s version of ginger beer), but I inevitably end up lingering over the gorgeous photographs and wondering how she achieved such magic.

  • David Oweb

    I have been making a ginger beer type drink of some merit using juiced ginger and ginger ale.
    Using a plunger-type juicer – the machine doesn’t like it but if you cut the ginger root into 1/2″ chinks and do them one at a time, it will do it with some grumbling – and you have ginger juice, quite a bit, surprisingly – (initially some white starch settles out).
    The ginger juice is parful’ stuff with many uses in sauces and dressings and other cookery, but a teaspoon or two in a glass of ginger ale produces a honkin’ result – you know something has happened when you drink it.

  • Tags

    Congratulations on your 22nd. Ours is on September 1st, which is Labor Day weekend just like in 1990.

  • Ed

    Been loving these cocktail posts! I just made last week some ginger beer that I am going to have to turn into a moscow mule. (Oh and if anyone is wondering making your own is really really easy).

  • Ed

    Oh and thrilled to see you are using OYO – I am not a vodka drinker, but it is surprising how good that stuff is and made right here in Ohio!

  • Laura

    Blenheim ginger ale…so freakin spicy. Made in South Carolina and comes in medium or hot!


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