Born from a long lineage of ginger beer-based buck cocktails, this mixed drink featuring vodka, ginger beer and lime juice was created in the early 1940s. There is some dispute about the exact origins of the recipe, but most accounts credit an alcohol-fueled meeting between John G. Martin, an executive at the company that bottled the then-unknown Smirnoff, and Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock ‘n’ Bull bar in Hollywood and ginger beer producer. Together, the pair dreamed up an easy-to-make drink using their underperforming products and gave it a funny name (“Moscow” is a nod to vodka’s Russian roots) for catchy marketing. After a lull during World War II, growing popularity in Hollywood and ads for “Mule Parties” featuring celebrities such as Woody Allen helped raise the profile of this drink in the United States—as well as that of vodka, which would go on to supplant gin and whiskey as the country’s most popular spirit. Tradition dictates this drink should be served in a copper mug (some origin myths account for a third friend who needed to offload said mugs) though highballs or Collins glasses are suitable replacements.
The cool-kid cocktail of 1940s Hollywood.
- 2 ounces vodka
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- 4 ounces ginger beer (preferably Fever Tree of Fentimans)
Garnish: lime wheel
- Add vodka and lime juice to a Collins, highball or copper mule mug (if you're fancy enough to own one).
- Top with crushed or cracked ice.
- Top with ginger beer and swizzle gently to mix.
- Garnish with a lime wheel.