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  • Writer's pictureJosh Jackson

The Three Shameful Facts About the Moscow Mule (and how we solved them)

March 3rd is finally here. What does that mean? Why, a national holiday of course! March 3rd is a day dedicated to one of JJMM’s most requested classic cocktails: The Moscow Mule!

In honor of this classic drink, we’d like to share NOT 3 positive things about the cocktail–but, in fact, 3 PROBLEMATIC issues we have with the Mule–and how we at JJMM regularly tweak these not-so-super elements to make this beverage absolutely delicious for our clients and their guests.

No. 1: The Moscow Mule is Super Sweet

The Moscow Mule recipe is a simple but effective combination of vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. The vodka provides the boozy backbone, the ginger beer provides the bubbly texture and sweet/spicy kick, and the lime juice provides acidity and balance. How can you go wrong with that?

Well, on paper, this combination is excellent. However, most recipes you’ll find online and order at the bar call for a significantly higher volume of ginger beer than is practical, which causes a couple of problems. First, it overpowers the citrusy flavor of the lime and the heady element of the vodka, which throws the overall arrangement out of balance.

Second, your average canned or bottled ginger beer is brimming with sugar! A typical can of ginger beer packs a whopping 500 milligrams of the sweet stuff. Can you imagine chugging 3 or 4 of these sugary drinks over the course of a typical reception?

We solve this problem a couple different ways for our hosts (see below). The first and easiest solution is to bring it all back in balance! First, we up the acidity with a proper dose of real, unsweetened lime juice (not a lime cordial!). The acidity from the juice acts as a counterpoint to the sugar, reducing the sugar’s intensity and bringing out a more bright and refreshing taste experience. Second, we reduce the ginger-to-soda ratio compared to the vodka and lime in order to give every ingredient room to shine. Your Mule should taste like a cocktail, not a juice box!

No. 2: Ginger Beer is Super Expensive

Here’s the other problematic thing about ginger beer: It’s expensive! Sure, a 6-pack at the grocery store is perfectly affordable, but when you’re making 500 of these for a 4-hour reception, those bottled or canned packs from the store rack up the bill–and fast!

At JJMM, we want to create the most memorable, consistent, high-quality experience possible–without gouging our hosts with unnecessary costs. This means we have our own approach to the Mule that helps us accomplish all those goals simultaneously. Instead of using canned ginger beer, we juice our own ginger root in house. We then combine it with a house-made syrup and add this spicy-sweet concoction to order with seltzer as well as lime and spirit. The result is a fresh-flavored and invigorating blend that tastes 10 times better than a canned ginger beer–at one-tenth of the cost of supplies!

No. 3: The Mule Mug is Super Impractical

Here’s where things get controversial. We all love the copper mug. It’s iconic! And of course, if a host wants to include it in their imbibing experience, we are more than happy to accommodate. They are quite eye-catching, after all.

But here's the deal: the Mule mug brings no practical benefit to the drinking experience. In fact, its origin can be traced back to a marketing gimmick that three salesmen (not bartenders!) concocted to help them sell more products. It’s true!

One serendipitous day, a Smirnoff vodka rep, a ginger beer salesman, and a copper mug salesman were hanging around, decrying their poor luck and disappointing numbers. Suddenly, inspiration struck and they came up with the idea of combining their three products into a cocktail. Thus, the Moscow Mule was born–and was literally invented by the three of them to help sell off all their leftover stock!

While aesthetically appealing, the Mule mug is actually detrimental to the cocktail imbibing experience. Why? The Moscow Mule is a carbonated beverage, which means if left alone, it will go flat over time. The wide circumference of the mug causes the CO2 in the drink to escape faster, and thus, the size and shape of the mug accelerates the flat-soda process.

For this reason, the Mule is best served in an elegant, slender Collins glass–which, due to its narrow circumference, helps the drink retain its fizzy carbonation longer. At JJMM, we happily accommodate the aesthetic wishes of our hosts first and foremost, but we often recommend Collins glasses for the Mule, as they preserve carbonation–and are, of course, less expensive for you to rent than lots of copper mugs.

Now you know some fun Moscow Mule facts. Impress your friends by reciting them at happy hour when you go out on March 3rd to celebrate this lesser-known historic holiday!

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