I call for a senate investigation into Russian interference in our drink-ware! Clearly, the top dogs in the Kremlin are fed up with our appropriation of the name of their capital for this very American drink. Have they retaliated with a possible overdose of copper?
In case you missed it, last month the Alcoholic Beverages Division of the State of Iowa released a bulletin to advise the public about the danger of drinking a Moscow Mule out of a copper mug. https://abd.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/advisory_bulletin_-_use_of_copper_mugs_in_the_serving_of_alcoholic_beverages_-_july_28_2017.pdf
Never fear good citizens of the United States! Your spirit guides will see you through this threat. As long as that copper mug is lined with a non-reactionary metal such as stainless steel, tin, or nickel it's perfectly safe. The problem arises if the mug isn't lined. When copper comes into contact with something acidic, such as lime juice for instance, that acidic substance can leach out the copper, adding an unintentional ingredient to our Moscow Mule. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, our bodies need some copper. Too much, though, is poisonous and can cause many unpleasant symptoms including chills, convulsions, and kidney failure (sounds like my hangover last weekend). To avoid all of that nastiness you may want to purchase new mule mugs if the ones in your cupboard are copper on the inside. To help you out there are links to safe Moscow Mule mugs below.
This one made by “Nature’s Oil” has a very classic look. Hammered copper body, brass handle, stainless steel lined inside.
This is the one I use. The less traditional hourglass shape makes it more versatile. Copper body, stainless steel lined inside.
This one is perfect for those very special occasions when you’re adding fancy stuff like unicorn tears, giant’s laughter, or pixie dust to your Moscow Mule. Stainless steel outside and in.
All of this scary stuff raises the question, why do we use copper mugs for our Moscow Mules? Well friends, good ol’ marketing, that’s why. The Hueblein Drinks Company acquired the rights to Smirnoff in the 1940s, before vodka had gained any sort of a foot-hold with U.S. consumers; They needed a gimmick to make the spirit popular. The Moscow Mule, developed at the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub here in Los Angeles, was the perfect thing. Putting it in a unique, eye catching package made it the hit cocktail that helped to propel vodka to its current position as America’s favorite liquor. It was such a stroke of marketing genius that 70 years later bar patrons are disappointed to get this drink in anything but a copper mug.
So go ahead and take a sip of some good old fashioned American values (succumbing to marketing, drinking vodka) just make sure they’re not lined with poison. And we’ll let the Kremlin off the hook this time, since I’m sure they were too busy interfering in our elections to meddle in our imbibing.
Incidentally, copper isn't all bad when it comes to booze, in fact it's quite helpful in the distillation process. More about that in a future Spirit Animal post!
2 oz of your favorite vodka (I like Karlsson’s Gold for this drink)
¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
Shake the vodka and lime juice with ice. Pour into a 12 oz lined copper cup filled with ice, top with ginger beer (I like Fevertree)
Garnish with lime wedge or candied ginger
*Spirit Animal did not receive any compensation from the brands mentioned in this article.