Vodka takes center stage on most modern cocktail lists but the spirit was virtually unknown to most Americans until the 194Os. When the “white whiskey” finally did take off, it was thanks to a clever marketing ploy conceived by two businessmen looking to unload two products they couldn’t seem to give away.
The scene: Cock ’n Bull Pub on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, 1941. In walks John Martin, President of Heublein, Inc., an East Coast spirits and food distributor better known for sales of A1 Steak Sauce than for Smirnoff. Martin laments his troubles to bar owner and friend, Jack Morgan, who has had a tough time selling his housemade ginger beer. The two invent a cocktail that, combined with an aggressive marketing campaign, would solve all of their problems. Made with Smirnoff vodka, Morgan’s ginger beer and lime juice, the Moscow Mule combined the losing ingredients in a winning way. Official packaging would be copper mugs embossed with the image of a kicking mule – conveniently provided by a friend who’d just inherited a copper factory.
Today, vodka rules -– and it’s all thanks to the Moscow Mule.
squeeze half a lime into a Collins glass
or traditional copper mug.
drop in the rind.
add ice, two shots vodka and one shot fresh lime.
top with cold ginger beer.