The Classic Moscow Mule Cocktail Recipe

Published November 9, 2021
Classic Moscow Mule Cocktail


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Ginger beer to top off
  • Ice
  • Lime wheel and mint sprig for garnish


  1. In a rocks glass or copper mug, add ice, vodka, and lime juice.
  2. Top off with ginger beer.
  3. Garnish with lime wheel and mint sprig.

Variations and Substitutions

A Moscow mule has a fairly set recipe, but there are alternatives if you're short on an ingredient or a flavor just doesn't agree with your palette.

  • Different brands of vodka will offer distinctive palettes and flavors, so feel free to sample different types and brands of vodka.
  • Try a flavored vodka, such as ginger-infused vodka, blackberry vodka, or raspberry vodka.
  • Similarly, different brands of ginger beer will each have stronger, sweeter, or spicier flavors. You can create a flight of Moscow mules, using sample sizes, to find your favorite ginger beer.
  • Experiment with lime cordial instead of lime juice. The cordial will add a dash of sweetness without losing the citric flavor of the lime.
  • To complement the mint garnish, add just a drop or two of mint simple syrup.


The lime wheel and mint sprig garnish is fairly standard for the Moscow Mule, but don't let that limit you on your cocktail journey.

  • Instead of a mint sprig, try out a basil or thyme sprig.
  • If you want to keep the lime garnish, consider using a lime wedge or slice.
  • In place of lime, use a lemon wheel, wedge, or slice.
  • A dehydrated lime or lemon wheel adds a modern flair to the traditional Moscow mule.
  • Make a lime peel or ribbon, you can pierce either of these with the mint sprig for an elegant-looking garnish.

About the Moscow Mule

The two main origin stories of the Moscow mule both cite necessity and the need to use up product as the source of inspiration. Both stories start at a bar in Manhattan but veer quickly away from one another.

One tale spins the image of three men sitting at a bar, one an owner of a company that produced ginger beer, one the president of Smirnoff, and the last a friend, John Martin, who worked as a president for a distribution company. Jack Morgan, owner of Cock'n'Bull responsible for the bar's stock of ginger beer, recounts that the three men began to discuss adding vodka to ginger beer, using a splash of fresh lemon juice to marry the pair. Soon the Moscow mule was born. The signature copper mugs would come later, becoming as crucial an ingredient as the spirits it contained.

On the other hand, a different story credits a bartender with the invention of this spicy citrus libation. After his bar manager informed him to use up an abundance of stock to clear space in storage, the Moscow mule quickly sprang to life, and, in both stories, the popularity of the cocktail seemingly skyrocketed overnight.

The copper mug would play an essential role in its inevitable lifelong popularity. Martin would travel the United States promoting Smirnoff and the Moscow mule, taking Polaroid photos at each stop and using the photo to prove the irrefutable popularity.

As the years passed, the Moscow mule has given way to dozens of riffs, using different spirits and syrups to mold the next generation.

Kick It up a Notch

With a kick of ginger and bright citrus, the Moscow mule's spiced flavor is singular. Although ginger beer is a critical ingredient in other cocktails, it shines the brightest when it's in a mule. This kicky drink is aptly named after one of the kickiest animals around...the mule.

The Classic Moscow Mule Cocktail Recipe