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Moscow Mule

  • Serves: 1
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Calories: 170
Moscow Mule recipe with ginger beer and mint

Crisp and refreshing, the classic Moscow Mule is about as easy as can be. Vodka + ginger beer + plenty of ice. And that iconic, frosty copper mug? It’s very fun to drink out of, but totally optional.

Meet the Moscow Mule: A 3-Ingredient Classic Cocktail To Sip All Summer Long

We love a good cocktail, and the craving hits hard when the weather gets warm. But we also like to leave all of the super-involved infusing, shaking, stirring, and straining to bartenders—when it comes to making a cocktail at home, we want simple and quick. Enter the classic Moscow Mule! You barely need a recipe for this ultra easy cocktail, but we’re going to give you one for good measure, along with tons of tips and tricks for making the best Moscow Mule ever.

ginger beer, limes, vodka and mint

What’s in a Moscow Mule?

If you know anything about vodka, and / or the history of classic cocktails, you might be familiar with the history of the Moscow Mule, but if you’re not, it’s a fun and very American anecdote worth knowing. The Moscow Mule was supposedly invented in the early 1940s by John G. Martin, a marketing executive at a drinks company that had recently acquired the vodka brand Smirnoff. At the time, most Americans weren’t in the habit of drinking vodka, so he needed an easy, approachable way to sell it to them. Supposedly, he teamed up with his friend Jack Morgan, who owned a British-style pub in L.A. called the Cock’n Bull and had recently come up with a super spicy ginger beer recipe that he was eager to find an audience for. The two put their heads (and their drinks) together and voila—the Moscow Mule came into being! So yes, classic Moscow Mule ingredients are as simple as:

  • Vodka

  • Ginger beer

  • Fresh lime juice (no one was trying to market lime juice to Americans—it just makes the drink delicious).

two copper mugs with muddled ginger and limes

The Best Ginger Beer for a Moscow Mule

Now that you’re a Moscow Mule historian, you might be thinking that Cock’n Bull ginger beer is the best ginger beer for making a Moscow Mule. And we certainly wouldn’t argue with that. Here’s the thing—a Moscow Mule doesn’t actually take much skill to make. The “art” here is finding the ginger beer and vodka combo that you like the best, which usually means a little trial and error on your part. Do note, though, that our classic Moscow Mule recipe (and all Moscow Mule recipes, basically) call for ginger beer, not ginger ale. Ginger beer was originally an alcoholic brew made from fermented ginger and sugar, but nowadays it’s almost always non-alcoholic and we definitely recommend non-alcoholic ginger beer for making this drink—the vodka will bring plenty of ABV to this cocktail! Ginger beer is spicier and more assertive than ginger ale, which is just carbonated water that’s sweetened and flavored with ginger. Ginger beers vary a LOT in terms of flavor profile from brand to brand, and it might even be fun to build a tasting party around finding your favorite! Here are a few ginger beers that we think make great Moscow Mules:

  • Reed's Extra Ginger Brew Ginger Beer. This one is powerfully spicy and we love it! Some of the vodka flavor will get lost in the power of this ginger beer, but we’re not complaining.

  • Q Ginger Beer. Sweetened lightly with agave, this ginger beer is made specifically for being used as a mixer for cocktails like the Moscow Mule. It’s a bit lighter, if you’re looking for a more low-key ginger hit.

  • Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer. Brewed with three types of ginger, Fever Tree is also specifically created to be used as a mixer in cocktails. It’s light and spicy, and we also love how widely available Fever Tree has become!

  • Cock’n Bull. Of course! The OG classic ginger beer for Moscow Mules, and always a good choice. A little sweeter that we prefer, but still delicious.

homemade Moscow Mule with ginger, lime and mint in a copper mug.
homemade Moscow Mule with ginger, lime and mint in a copper mug.

The Best Vodka for a Moscow Mule

Once again, we recommend doing your own taste test! But spirits can get pricey fast, so it might be a little bit more of an investment to host a vodka tasting than a ginger beer tasting. And while, yes, vodkas do have flavor all their own—at least, they should if they’re well-made—when you’re shopping for a vodka to mix into a Moscow Mule, there’s no need to break the bank. You’re going to dump ginger beer into it, after all. This is the moment for a vodka that’s reasonably affordable that you like to drink (and isn’t so cheap it’ll ruin the cocktail). Here are a few vodkas we love to make a Moscow Mule with:

  • Smirnoff Vodka. The classic choice, and always a good value. Nothing wrong with classic!

  • Tito’s Vodka. Made in Austin, Texas, Tito’s has rapidly become our go-to. It’s made from corn, and has an easy-drinking smoothness that we just love.

  • Hangar One Vodka. Another American-made vodka, this one hailing from California. It’s super smooth and light, and we love to mix it into Moscow Mules as well as sip it straight!

homemade Moscow Mule with ginger, lime and mint in a copper mug.

How to Make a Moscow Mule

Those iconic, glowing Moscow Mule copper mugs are a lot of fun—and making this cocktail at home is a great excuse to buy some—but you can serve a Moscow Mule in a regular old highball glass, too. It’ll taste just as good! Here’s how to make the best Moscow Mule ever:

  1. Grab your very favorite vodka.

  2. Grab your very favorite ginger beer.

  3. Juice a lime. Muddle the lime juice with a bit of fresh ginger. To 'muddle' means to press the ingredients together in your cocktail glass to release their flavors or aromas. You can use a true "muddler" meant for cocktails to do this, or simply a pestle from a mortar and pestle.

  4. Combine those three things! Ginger beer: vodka ratio should be 2:1, but who’s checking? Especially when it’s time to mix up a second round!

  5. Sip!

homemade Moscow Mule with ginger, lime and mint in a copper mug.

Tools You’ll Need

More Classic Cocktail Recipes to Try

Moscow Mule recipe with ginger beer and mint
Moscow Mule 3

Bottoms Up!

And pinkies down! The Moscow Mule is as welcome at a casual backyard BBQ—just set out some halved limes, ginger beer and vodka and let guests DIY—as it is a gussied up cocktail party. It’s one of those terrific, easy, classic cocktail recipes that’s easy to throw together and that almost everyone loves, too. Not too vodka-y for the vodka haters, and just irresistibly refreshing to basically anyone of drinking age. Plus, the non-drinkers can spritz some lime juice into an icy glass of ginger beer and enjoy something pretty great, too. We’d love to see your Moscow Mules, and the company you share them with, too! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Moscow Mule

  • Serves: 1
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Calories: 170

Ingredients

  • 1/2-inch piece Fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 ounce Fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces Vodka
  • 6 ounces Good-quality ginger beer

Method

  1. In a copper mug or glass, muddle the ginger with the lime juice until crushed and fragrant.
  2. Add vodka and enough crushed ice to fill the glass. Top with ginger beer. Stir and, if you'd like to, garnish with fresh mint or candied ginger.