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How the Moscow Mule Got Its Name

Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is a cocktail invented in the mid 20th century. Since then, it has proven to be very popular, so much so that it has managed to inspire a number of other cocktails called one kind of mule or another. For example, there is the Kentucky Mule, which is made using bourbon. Similarly, there is the Mexican Mule, which is made using tequila. Based on this, interested individuals might be able to guess that the Moscow Mule itself is made using vodka.

Where Was the Moscow Mule Invented?

It isn't 100 percent where the Moscow Mule was invented. This is because there are a number of competing claims for that particular honor. Something that makes it rather difficult to tell which one is right and which ones are wrong. First, there is the claim that the Moscow Mule was invented by three individuals named John Morgan, John Martin, and Rudolph Kunett who were gathered at the Chatham Hotel in New York City. Each of the three individuals was a person of some note. Morgan was a restaurant owner who was involved in producing ginger beer as well. Meanwhile, both Martin and Kunett were involved in producing alcoholic beverages, with Kunett handling the vodka division for Martin. Supposedly, the three individuals were drinking when they wondered what would happen if they mixed Martin and Kunett's vodka with Morgan's ginger beer. As a result, they got some mugs, got some ice, got some lemons, mixed everything together, and then drank the results. The three individuals liked it, though it took them a few days to come up with the eventual name of Moscow Mule. Second, there is the claim that the Moscow Mule was invented by a man named Wes Price, who was working as the head bartender for Morgan at the time. This version of the story is less glamorous. As Price tells it, the bar's cellar was packed with unsold inventory. Due to this, he made an effort to clear out some of that unsold inventory, which included both vodka and ginger beer. Supposedly, the first Moscow Mule was sold to Broderick Crawford, an American actor who was most notable for his Oscar-winning role as Willie Stark in All the King's Men in 1949. Besides these, there is also a claim that the Moscow Mule was invented in Los Angeles rather than New York City. The other two claims acknowledge its eventual popularity on the West Coast. However, both claim an East Coast origin for the cocktail.

What Goes Into the Moscow Mule?

In any case, there are some cocktails that can see enormous variation. However, the Moscow Mule is pretty consistent in being made using vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice. The IBA recipe calls for 9 parts vodka and 24 parts ginger beer to be poured into an ice-filled highball glass. After which, 2 parts lime juice is added before the resulting mixture is stirred and then garnished using either a lime slice or a lime wedge. There are various variations on this basic recipe. As mentioned earlier, some of them substitute one or two ingredients, which changes the result enough for them to receive new names. Meanwhile, others just add more ingredients, with potential examples including both carrot juice and angostura bitters.

What Is the Moscow Mule Named For?

The sources of inspiration for the Moscow Mule aren't exactly mysterious. For starters, Moscow refers to one of the most famous cities in the entire world. It wasn't particularly important in the time of the Kievan Rus, which was a federation of both Slavic and non-Slavic peoples that existed from about the late 9th century to the mid 13th century. However, it became the center of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, which started out as a vassal state under the Mongol Empire but would move from success to success until it had become a recognizable version of Russia. Moscow didn't always hold the status of Russian capital, seeing as how Peter the Great moved the seat of his government to Saint Petersburg in 1712. Even so, it remained very important, so much so that it became a natural choice for the new capital of the Soviet Union when Vladimir Lenin moved the seat of his governmen from Saint Petersburg for fear of foreign invasion. In the present, Moscow remains the capital of the Russian Federation, which is a continuation of its status as the capital of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic under the Soviet Union.

As for why the Moscow Mule was named for Moscow even though it was invented in the United States, well, it seems safe to say that is because of the vodka. Some people might associate vodka with potatoes, which would make it a relatively modern liquor because potatoes were brought over from the New World. However, vodka has been made for a long time, with the traditional ingredient being fermented cereals. Besides this, while vodka is associated with Russia, vodka's historic home encompasses a much bigger chunk of Northern Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe. Nowadays, it remains a popular drink of choice in a lot of those countries.

The last part would be an animal. Once again, it is very easy to guess the reason that mule was chosen, which is to say, the cocktail possessed a kick like that of a mule. This is somewhat amusing because mules are less notorious than donkeys. For those who are unfamiliar, these animals are the offspring of male donkeys and female horses. They are genetically identical to hinnies, which are the offspring of female donkeys and male horses. However, mules are nonetheless different from hinnies because of epigenetic reasons, with the result that they are much more useful to humans. For that matter, mules have major advantages over both sides of their heritage. To name some examples, they are both smarter and less stubborn than donkeys. Simultaneously, they are hardier, longer-lived, and more patient than horses. As such, mules have seen a lot of use as pack animals over the course of human history. In fact, while they have been replaced by motor vehicles for the most part, they still see use in rugged terrain where the infrastructure is either bad or nonexistent. Of course, though mules have a good reputation for their good behavior, they are still big animals with a lot of power packed into them. Thanks to that, it can be a very bad idea to test their patience too much.

Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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