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1950s Recipes + Menus

Moscow Mule

March 1955
When Harry S. Truman presented the 1951 State of the Union address, he said, “The threat of world conquest by Soviet Russia endangers our liberty and endangers the kind of world in which the free spirit of man can survive.” In that climate, any product associated with Russia would have had an uphill climb. But vodka overcame this barrier by being so mixable (and stealthier than gin or whiskey when it came to booze breath). The Moscow Mule was one of the first popular vodka cocktails. Its creation is usually credited to a collaboration between Jack Morgan, owner of a ginger beer company and also the Cock and Bull Tavern, in Los Angeles, and John Gilbert Martin, president of Heublein, which made Smirnoff (in Connecticut, not Russia). A drink with ginger beer and lime wasn’t exactly a stretch (and there was already a cocktail called a Mamie Taylor that used those ingredients and blended Scotch), but whatever its origins, it was partially responsible for vodka sales skyrocketing from 40,000 cases sold in 1950 to 4.5 million cases sold five years later.

Pour 1 1/2 ounces vodka and the juice of half a lime over ice cubes in a copper mug, silver goblet, or water glass and fill with ginger beer. Stir and garnish with a slice of lime.