You’ve got the copper mugs, the ginger beer, and the vodka: now all you need is a recipe. Here’s how to make a classic Moscow mule!

Moscow mule

It’s bubbly, tangy, looks impressive, and goes down easy. Meet the classic Moscow mule! This drink was invented in the 1940’s, but it’s having a moment now, too. It’s got only 3 ingredients and takes 3 minutes to make: perfect for parties or a lazy evening on the patio. Outside of the margarita, it might be one of our favorite drinks of all time. Though really…how can we pick just one? Here’s how to make this refreshing vodka cocktail!

What’s in a Moscow mule?

A Moscow mule is a classic cocktail born in the 1940’s, made with vodka and ginger beer. It’s actually part of a family of cocktails called a buck: a cocktail made with liquor, ginger ale or ginger beer, and citrus juice. So, it can also be called a vodka buck! This classic cocktail is on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. The official definition of a Moscow mule is:

  • Vodka
  • Ginger beer
  • Lime juice
Moscow mule

How to make a mule

Because a Moscow mule is all about the carbonation in the ginger beer, this drink is not mixed in a cocktail shaker. To preserve the carbonation, it’s simply mixed right in the mug and served over ice. You don’t even need a cocktail shaker! This makes it one of the easiest cocktail recipes you can find. Here’s what to do:

  1. Pour the ingredients into a copper mug. (Why a copper mug? Keep reading… )
  2. Add ice cubes, and garnish with lime. It’s that simple!

Why are Moscow mules served in copper mugs?

As you may know, Moscow mules are traditionally served in a copper cup or copped mug. But does it have to be served in copper? Why are mules even served in copper? There are a few reasons:

  • Copper keeps the drink cool in a different way than glass. The copper immediately takes on the temperature of the drink. And there’s something about taking a sip of the drink with a cool copper rim: it feels even colder!
  • Tradition! According to this source, the Moscow mule was invented as a marketing scheme in the 1940’s to sell more vodka, ginger beer, and copper mugs. People in Hollywood fell in love with it, and there were lots of images at the time of celebs drinking mules in copper mugs. It caught on, and it’s still the traditional way to drink this cocktail.

Do you have to serve it in copper? Of course not! The Moscow mule tastes good in any type of cup or glass. Use a lowball glass, Ball jar, a standard mug: whatever strikes your fancy.

Moscow mule

Where to find copper mugs for Moscow mules

If you’re going to use copper mugs for your mule: you’ve got to go with solid copper! This is the only way to get that perfect refreshing cold sip. The mugs we used in these photos are out of stock, but here are some more we recommend. Moscow mule copper mugs make great gifts, especially as wedding gifts for couples who love to make great cocktails! Grab some: Copper Moscow mule mugs on Amazon.

What ginger beer to use in a mule?

There are so many ginger beer brands on the market! Look for ginger beer real ginger, without artificial flavors or sweeteners. Here are a few brands we like — but of course, you can use whatever strikes your fancy:

  • Q Ginger Beer: This is our top choice! It has great flavor and is made with real ginger. It comes in small cans so you don’t have to open a large bottle. (That’s the biggest plus!)
  • Fever Tree Ginger Beer: Fever Tree also has great flavor and is our backup. It’s made with real ginger and has no artificial sweeteners.
  • More Ginger Beer Brands: Here’s a list of more top brands.

Want more with ginger beer? See these Top Ginger Beer Cocktails.

Moscow mule

Variations on the mule

With a recipe this classic, there are endless variations on the Moscow mule! Here are some of our favorites, and a few more ideas to try:

  • Kentucky Mule: Use bourbon for the vodka for a whiskey-forward variation.
  • Mexican Mule: Use tequila instead of vodka! The way the bite of the tequila interplays with the spicy ginger is irresistible.
  • Gin Gin Mule A modern classic, essentially a mashup of a mule and a Mojito.
  • Dark and Stormy: Use dark rum in a highball glass, and you’ve got another classic cocktail.
  • Mezcal Mule: Use tequila and mezcal for a smoky spin on the mule.
  • Irish Mule: Use Irish whiskey in place of of vodka: the spicy finish is irresistible.
  • Watermelon Mule or Apple Cider Mule These seasonal spins let you drink the mule all year long.

When to serve a Moscow mule

The Moscow mule is a classic vodka cocktail that’s delicious as it is versatile. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Summer drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Moscow mule

Classic Moscow Mule

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


You’ve got the copper mugs, the ginger beer, and the vodka: now all you need is a recipe. Here’s how to make a classic Moscow mule!


  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) vodka
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) ginger beer
  • For the garnish: lime wheel or wedge, fresh mint (if desired)


  1. In a copper mug or glass, pour in the vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer.
  2. Add ice and garnish with a lime slice. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Moscow Mule, Moscow Mule Recipe

More classic cocktails

Here are a few more of our classic cocktails to add to your repertoire:

  • Classic Margarita  The very best classic margarita: lime, tequila and Cointreau. Perfection! And here are 10 ways to make a margarita.
  • Best Gin and Tonic Here are the keys to the very best gin and tonic, the most refreshing 2-ingredient cocktail! A few secrets take this crisp, botanical drink over the top.
  • Tom Collins Cocktail This popular sweet sour cocktail is light and bubbly! Don’t forget the cherry.
  • Whiskey Sour This is the best whiskey sour recipe you’ll find: perfectly balanced and sweet tart! Or try a Boston sour for a variation with a frothy top.
  • Best Mimosa The best mimosa recipe! This one’s made with Italian Prosecco, orange juice, and a dash of Cointreau for the perfect bubbly citrus flavor.

Last updated: August 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Can I use any other fruit juice beside lime. We have an orange tree outside, can we use orange juice, or any other fruit as far as that goes?

    1. Hi! You could do it right before serving, otherwise the ginger beer will lose it’s fizz. The same proportions would work.

      You could also premix the vodka and lime juice, then just add ginger beer to each mug.