Once upon a time, Americans didn’t much care for vodka. A cocktail recipe book from the early 1930s joked that vodka was the Russian word for horrendous.
Fast forward to the early 1940s, and the guy who owns the rights to Smirnoff Vodka in the US is commiserating with the owner of a watering hole in LA called the Cock ’n’ Bull about his lack of success in selling vodka. The bar owner says he isn’t having much luck peddling his new ginger beer, either.
Throw into that mix a bunch of weird, imported copper mugs another sad sack had—so oddball they couldn’t be given away—and you have the beginning of the charge that finally made vodka a rock star adult beverage in this country.
As crazy as it sounds, that’s apparently a true story.
It actually sounds like a pretty good episode of Drunk History, if they ever branch out into the sordid history of mixology.
Today, the old Mule is making something of a comeback as modern drinkers find the easy-sipping mix of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice (in the bizarro copper mug) a great gateway drink for those new to craft cocktails.
VCH staffers recently sampled a few of these at a secret, undisclosed location in the hinterlands of Virginia, and we have to admit: they’re definitely quaffable. Seasoned barkeeps tell us the secret is good quality vodka and decent ginger beer.
Odi makes an extra nice copper mug, on right
Here is the recipe we were recently digging on. The muddled mint is a bit of a twist on the classic recipe. Enjoy.
2 oz. good quality vodka
1 oz. fresh lime juice
Barritts or other quality ginger beer
One or two mint sprigs, muddled