A truly great cocktail is about more than alcohol swished together with your favorite mixer. Cocktails should heighten the senses with exquisite flavors, aromas, and presentation. The act of drinking, in and of itself, is a practice of camaraderie, bringing people together to laugh, share stories, and have fun. So any cocktail worth sipping should have it’s own personality and story. The legend of the Moscow Mule, a standout among vodka drinks made with fizzy ginger beer, tangy lime juice, and served in stunning copper mugs, fits on the list of a classic American cocktails like few others. Although the finely tuned ingredients of the Moscow Mule recipe are certainly appealing, the true signature of this mixed drink is the copper mug. Since Moscow Mules first appeared in the 1940s, copper mugs have been essential for proper presentation. But is copper really better? For some traditionalists, even asking the question, “Why is a moscow mule served in a copper mug?” is blasphemous, since decades of ceremony insist that they be used. Yet, for the discerning drinker, it’s important to know the facts. So we must look beyond the ginger beer and vodka to investigate the true benefits of copper Moscow Mule mugs.
The most scientific benefit of using copper moscow mule mugs is temperature. For centuries, the best drinkers have known that chilled drinks in copper cups offer an extra-cool sensation, due to the metal quickly taking on the icy temperature of the cocktail. The rim of the mug becomes chilly almost instantly, offering a frozen sensation on your lips. The cold metal is highly effective at insulating the cold temperature of any liquid, especially good for summertime drinking, and deflecting heat from the sun. The handle of the mug helps maintain drink temperature, as well, keeping the near 100 degree body heat of your hand away from the walls of the mug, and your Moscow Mule safely chilled inside.
Taste Benefits of Copper Mugs
The taste benefits are a bit more subjective, and will obviously vary, depending on the recipe you use. There are, however, clear indications that using copper mugs for Moscow Mules enhance the individual flavors of the ginger beer, vodka, and lime. Some experts say that when vodka touches the walls of the mug, the copper begins to oxidize, slightly boosting the aroma, and enhancing the taste of the vodka. Cold copper also has a tendency to increase the amount of bubbles in the carbonated ginger beer, bringing maximum fizziness to the Moscow Mule, when compared to being served in a plastic or glass container. The lime juice is also brought to life by the extra-cold copper, heightening the tangy citrus notes and reducing the acidity to better compliment the spicy ginger beer. When these three flavors reach their maximum potential, they work together to prove that the Moscow Mule deserves its home among classic American cocktails.
Arguably, the clearest reason to use copper mugs for Moscow Mules is the presentation. A martini just doesn’t seem right unless it’s served in the classic, stemmed glass vortex, with the spirits swirling around a sunken olive. The same is true for any well made drink. Re-tracing the history of the Moscow Mule, this ginger beer and vodka combination started at a bars in Manhattan and Hollywood in 1941. In order to give the drink a distinctive look, the originators ordered specially made copper Moscow Mule mugs, and took pictures of patrons drinking them with Polaroid cameras, a cutting edge invention of the day. The photographs began to circulate, and popularity of drinking a zesty Moscow Mule from a sleek, shiny copper mug found its place in American cocktail culture. Hugely popular in the mid 20th century, recent trends have solidified the timeless nature of this mixed drink.
Are Copper Mugs Really Better?
Yes. Copper mugs are hands down the best choice for mixing up the best Moscow Mule recipe. In fact, many other cocktails would benefit from this sleek and stunning vessel. No matter which reason is most important to you, whether it be temperature, taste, or experience, you will no doubt enjoy the great tradition of sipping an ice cold Moscow Mules from a beautiful copper mugs.