The Best Moscow Mule Recipe

Only a couple extra ingredients makes the Best Moscow Mule you’ve ever tasted, and yes, it’s still served in a frosty copper mug! Find out what sets it way apart from the rest of the herd.

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The best Moscow mule in two copper mugs with copper straws.
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The recipe for this cocktail comes straight from Moscow, with a short pitstop in Minnesota, naturally. It was developed by Josh, a close friend who, with fierce determination, was able to replicate a Moscow Mule served at a Minneapolis bar that tasted better, richer, and gingerier than any other he’d ever had. That’s exactly what this drink is.

Of all the Moscow Mule recipes out there, this is the one you have to try!

The secret? Angostura Orange Bitters and candied, crystallized ginger, among other things. If you have a set of copper mugs just begging to be put to use, now is the time to make this delightful cocktail.

Mixing up the Best Moscow Mules for all your thirsty pals? Don’t call Josh, make them yourself! Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

A little Moscow Mule History:

Is Moscow Mule from Russia? Well, not really. Technically, the Moscow Mule is purely an American drink, made with vodka which, at the time of its invention was strongly associated with Russia.

The Moscow Mule actually originated in Los Angeles, in 1941. Also known as a vodka buck, the mule came about over a night of drinking between businessmen, one of whom owned a product company and a restaurant in L.A., a fun-sounding place called Cock and Bull.

They poured some of one man’s bottled ginger beer into some vodka and mixed everything up with lemon. The copper mug came later, to promote their new drink. That’s why, if you ever see a vintage copper mug, it might have “Cock and Bull” etched on the side.

Moscow Mule ingredients laid out on a table.

Moscow Mule Ingredients:

A basic Moscow Mule is made with vodka, ginger beer, (not ginger ale) and lime juice. But this recipe takes it up a couple notches—here’s the secret.

  • Vodka. Smirnoff is just fine, but you can use what you have.
  • Ginger beer. Reed’s Extra Ginger Beer is the gold standard. It can be found at well stocked specialty stores, Trader Joe’s, or online. However, if you have your own favorite ginger beer, feel free to use that.
  • Lime juice. Freshly squeezed, please!
  • Club soda. Just a skosh.
  • Angostura Orange Bitters. Crucial ingredient! Look for the orange bitters, not the standard aromatic bitters. Fee Brothers also makes orange bitters. Look for it in well-stocked liquor stores.
  • Powdered sugar. A little powdered sugar dissolves easily in the drink and makes things just a touch sweeter. Leave it out if you prefer, but it does make a difference.
  • Crystalized ginger. Candied ginger, especially the kind sold by the bag at Trader Joe’s, makes a spicy-sweet garnish you’ll love. Use a lime wedge or fresh mint sprig if you don’t have it.
Overhead shot of two moscow mules.

How to make the Best Moscow Mule:

  1. Find a large cocktail shaker and fill it halfway with ice. Pour in the vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, and the orange bitters into the shaker.
  2. Then, ever so gently, stir in the powdered sugar. Stir, don’t shake, so that you don’t burst the bubbles.
  3. Strain into the ice-filled copper mugs, and garnish with a slice of candied ginger and a wedge of lime.

Happy drinking!

Why is a Moscow Mule served in a copper mug?

  • Enjoying chilled drinks in copper cups offer a super-cool sensation, because the metal takes on the cold temperature of the drink quicker than glass. That frozen sensation feels good on your lips!
  • Furthermore, the cold metal insulates the cocktail, which is handy, especially in the summertime.
  • Also, icy cold copper can increase the amount of bubbles in the carbonated ginger beer, making things extra fizzy.
  • Some people think that the copper reacts with the vodka and somehow enhances the flavor, but this drink tastes incredible no matter what.
  • Lastly, it’s really, really fun to drink out of a copper mug.

Don’t let being mugless stop you from making a Moscow Mule, though—lots of bars still serve them in glass lowballs, mostly because copper mugs tend to (ahem) disappear quickly!

Is it safe to drink out of a copper mug?

Don’t worry about a Moscow Mule mug poisoning you. Most copper cups for cocktails that are on the market are lined with steel or nickel, so the acidity of the drink won’t interact with the copper and leach into your lovely cocktail.

Some vintage mugs are even made out of anodized aluminum. When shopping for Moscow Mule mugs, look for sturdy mugs that are lined and food safe. There are lots of good options out there, even gorgeous hammered copper mugs!

If you don't want to spring for copper mugs, that's fine! It still tastes great and it looks pretty, too.

5 from 12 votes

The Best Moscow Mule Recipe

Only a couple extra ingredients makes the Best Moscow Mule you’ve ever tasted, and yes, it’s still served in a frosty copper mug! Find out what sets it way apart from the rest of the herd.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Keyword ginger, vodka
Prep Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute
Servings 2 servings
Calories 196kcal
  • 8 ounces Reed's Extra Ginger Beer
  • ounces premium vodka
  • ounces club soda
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¼ tsp Angostura Orange Bitters
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • Crystallized ginger, lime slices, and/or fresh mint for garnish
  • Fill a large cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Pour ginger beer, vodka, club soda, lime juice, and orange bitters into the shaker.
  • Gently stir in powdered sugar, being careful not to disrupt the carbonation (do not shake).
  • Strain into two copper mugs or lowball glasses filled with ice.
  • Garnish with a skewer of crystallized ginger, lime slices, or fresh mint as desired.


Calories: 196kcal


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  1. Denise

    Does the ginger dissolve in the cocktail?

  2. Hey, I live in Minnesota and will definitely be making this drink!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hey, that’s great! I love Minnesota! I visit there at least once a year to see friends and family. Stay warm!!!

  3. I appreciate our MInnesota food scene and I may have had that same Moscow Mule that she had :). I’m going to try this out AFTER I pick up the perfect mugs!5 stars

  4. Zainab @ Blahnik Baker

    First of all…thanks for that copper mug link!! And secondly, these are just gorgeous!! Finally, MN is my second home :)5 stars

  5. I recently bought copper mugs! I can’t wait to try this recipe. I’ve tried regular Moscow Mules before, but I can tell I’m going to LOVE this version! :)5 stars

  6. SamanthaFrommHaddow

    As a NE Minneapolis resident, I am really curious to learn which bartender inspired this. We have a plethora of amazing cocktail bars in the Twin Cities!5 stars

    1. I wish I could say! He made me promise to keep his identity a secret. Or his wife did, at least. :)

  7. Kathleen @ hapanom

    Ooo, I LOVE Moscow mules! So cool that you took a bartender course! That would be a great couples activity!5 stars

    1. I should probably take the course again, Kathleen. I don’t remember a thing. :) But yes, it was super fun at the time!

  8. Kim Henrichs

    I am definitely going to try this one out. Those copper mugs are amazing too…5 stars

    1. The copper mugs are so fun, Kim! I want to drink everything out of them now. They keep beverage so cold, it’s amazing!

  9. Robyn Gleason

    When I saw this on Google+, I knew I had to come see more! I love this drink but sometimes it’s hard to find ginger beer in Canada. It seems to that it’s becoming popular again so maybe they’ll carry it in more stores. A great drink, Meggan, and gorgeous photos!
    PS. You rock in FBC. Truly appreciate all your hard work to keep such a dynamic group rolling along!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much, Robyn! Great of you to stop by. I am lucky I stumbled across Ginger Beer myself, I didn’t know much about it before making this cocktail. Thanks for the FBC shout-out too. :) Most of the credit goes to Nagi of course. She brought us all together!

  10. You did a bartender course? Seriously? Well then if so I’m very impressed! No wonder you have so many amazing drinks. This sounds like a sort of delicious gingery mochito!5 stars

    1. I did, Helen, but it’s really not all that impressive. Sarcasm must not be translating well on my blog these days, ha ha! It was a course called Mixology and I don’t remember a thing from it. I am lucky to have lovely friends who share their secrets!

  11. I LOVE Moscow Mules. I’d say it was the cup, but it’s actually the drink – I love gingery drinks. I had no idea about the copper reaction though! I love when science is involved! ;)5 stars

    1. You are so coming over for one of these (or two) at the end of May! Bring T. #science #research

  12. Janette @ Culinary Ginger

    I’ve never had a Moscow mule but I’m loving Josh’s recipe. Cheers to the weekend!5 stars

    1. We all need more weekends! I had one of these last night after dinner. It’s totally my new Friday thing. :)

  13. Looks so refreshing Meggan! Love the pictures! So glad your friend shared the recipe with you, I’ve had copper mugs for a long time, but never attempted to make Moscow Mule ! Will try it ! Have a great weekend!5 stars

    1. Thank you so much, Mira! It’s the best way to use a copper mug. :) And it’s a great drink! I don’t necessarily make many cocktails (probably due to lack of know-how) but this one is on my list. Have a great weekend too!

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