Many, many classic cocktails have a very muddled history where we find a multitude of bartenders, bar owners, and even authors claiming to have created their recipes. This is not the case with the Moscow Mule. The facts behind the story are almost completely unanimous and they go as follows. In the 1940s, John Hublein was the president of G.F. Heublein & Brothers, the company that made A-1 steak sauce. Hublein had purchased a small vodka label called Smirnoff back in the 30s in an effort to get ahead of what would he thought could be the next big spirit in the cocktail craze. It’s fun to note that he only paid $14,000 for said label. During one of his visits to see his his good friend Jack Morgan, the owner of the Cock ‘n Bull Pub on Sunset Strip in Hollywood, Hublein complained about not being able to sell his vodka. He found a sympathetic ear in Morgan, who had similar troubles with selling the ginger beer he’d been developing as a hobby. Enter a third party at this point, who never seems to have a name in the retelling of this story, but who shared similar frustrations about not having a market for a particular copper mug she had created. The group began to brainstorm and eventually brought their three elements together, along with some lime juice, and the Moscow Mule was born.
There are a vast number of Mule variations, and mine is certainly not rocket science, but I was very pleased with how it turned out. I swapped out the traditional vodka and went with Bluecoat Barrel Finished gin, because I knew that I wanted to feature Element’s Blueberry Rosemary shrub as the center of this drink’s flavor profile. The barrel finishing gives the gin such interesting depth that makes it perfect as the base spirit in a winter mule. The gin’s citrus aspect worked well with the blueberry component, and the botanicals married well with the rosemary. I wanted some spiciness without overwhelming the other flavors, and I knew that Sukkah Hill’s Besamim liqueur would do the trick. I added a rosemary simple syrup to intensify the herbal flavor, and I offset the sweetness with the addition of lime juice. I loved keeping the lime in the drink, especially because it’s part of the original recipe. I served it over ice in the traditional mug, topped with with a good ginger beer, and garnished it with a rosemary sprig and some skewered blueberries. You can go with 2-3 ounces of ginger beer here, depending on how much of the underlying flavor profile you want to preserve. The flavors of this mule are delicate, and since ginger beer is not, this is a cocktail that you want to be careful with. The base of the drink will also work served alone on the rocks without the ginger beer, or up in a cocktail glass. Experiment to see what works best for you. Cheers!
Add all the ingredients (except the ginger beer) to a shaker tin and shake vigorously until cold. Strain into a Moscow Mule mug or an old-fashioned glass over ice. Top with the ginger beer and garnish with a rosemary sprig and skewered blueberries. Enjoy!
**available online or at MOM’s Organic Markets or other specialty stores
***Make a 1:1 batch of simple syrup and then add in a rosemary sprig and steep until cool. Store in a mason jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.