The Story Behind Why Moscow Mules Are Served In Copper Mugs

Moscow Mule on a bar
Moscow Mule on a bar - Emmanuel Lozano/Shutterstock

The Moscow Mule is a deliciously straightforward cocktail that takes just a few ingredients -- and it's possible to argue that the most important ingredient is the distinctive copper mug that it gets served in. But what is it that makes a Moscow Mule so special that it gets to play dress-up while other cocktails are served in standard glass? And does it really make a difference?

The short answer is that yes, at the time of the Moscow Mule's creation, it really did make a difference. It's a drink that's best served very, very cold, and copper mugs insulated the drink and kept it colder for longer. But just why bartenders pivoted to copper mugs in the first place is debated, along with the actual origin story of this distinctively American drink.

If you happen to order a Moscow Mule today, there's a chance that you might not get one served up in that copper mug. Modern wonders of ice-making and refrigeration mean that it's no longer as necessary, but let's be honest -- it's still pretty cool to get those old-school mugs.

Read more: 26 Popular Vodka Brands, Ranked By Their Versatility

There Are A Few Places That Claim The Moscow Mule As Their Invention

Hand holding Moscow Mule
Hand holding Moscow Mule - oasisamuel/Shutterstock

Many cocktails have rather mysterious origins, like the popular Bahama Mama and, of course, the Moscow Mule. Two cities claim to have created it, and the only thing they can agree on is the date of 1941. In L.A. the story goes that the Moscow Mule was a collaboration between G.F. Heublein & Brothers president John Martin, owner of the Cock 'n Bull bar and purveyor of ginger beer John "Jack" Morgan, and a Russian immigrant named Sophie Berezinski. Beresinski was looking for a buyer for the copper mugs she designed, Morgan wanted to sell his ginger beer, and Martin was in the market for a vodka-based cocktail.

Martin's Heublein Inc. had bought the rights to Smirnoff in 1939, and although he'd hit it big with other products (including A1 steak sauce), vodka was proving difficult to sell in America. The Moscow Mule changed that, and helped introduce the country to Smirnoff. Interestingly, the head bartender of the Cock 'n Bull much later claimed that they were just trying to get rid of ginger beer, and he was the one that came up with the cocktail.

New York City's Chatham Hotel also claims that it invented the Moscow Mule, and strangely, the same players are involved. They say Morgan and Martin were there visiting from Los Angeles when they created the drink, then decided to add the copper mugs.

Sophie Berezinski's Copper Mug Company Relaunched 75 Years Later

old style Moscow Mule copper cup
old style Moscow Mule copper cup - 5PH/Shutterstock

Even as New York and L.A. both claim to be the home of the Moscow Mule, there's another player in the story. That's Sophie Berezinski, the Russian immigrant who's credited for introducing the copper mugs. Her father owned a copper factory in Russia, and in an attempt to open up a whole new market, she headed to the U.S. with 2,000 of their mugs but had no luck selling them. Until, that is, she ended up walking into Sunset Strip's Cock 'n Bull pub, meeting with Morgan and Martin, and developing the Moscow Mule

They say that the cocktail was carefully crafted to highlight the best properties of the vodka, the ginger beer, and the mug. Because it was such a good insulator, it kept the drink cold for a long time -- and in 1941, that was a huge deal. Refrigeration, ice, and cooling technology wasn't what it is today, and the copper mugs made it possible for patrons to enjoy colder drinks for longer.

If you're looking for a real Moscow Mule copper mug today, Berezinski's great grandson J.J. Resnik relaunched Moscow Copper Co. in the U.S. in 2016. The company produces authentic copper mugs very close the original design. It's best to use the real thing when you're making a non-alocholic Moscow Mule mocktail or experimenting with fun ingredients that will take your Moscow Mule to the next level.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.