How To Make the Best Moscow Mules

updated Jun 20, 2021
4th of july
How to Make the Best Moscow Mules

An easy step-by-step guide to making a Moscow Mule cocktail, plus variations.


Prep5 minutes to 10 minutes

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overhead shot of a moscow mule being poured into a copper mug, with a lime to the left of the mug.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Copper mugs have become ubiquitous in bars these days — a sure sign that the Moscow Mule is as popular as ever. The vodka-spiked ginger beer and lime cocktail is just the right balance of spicy, sweet, and refreshing, making it all too easy to sip down. Curious about how to make a great one at home? It’s simple. Here’s everything you need to set you up for cocktail hour success.

The Origin of the Moscow Mule

The history of the Moscow Mule might not quite be what you expect. For starters, it wasn’t invented in Russia, nor was it invented as an ode to the capital city.

In 1941, the Los Angeles bar Cock ‘n’ Bull found themselves with an overabundance of their housemade ginger beer. The owner’s friend happened to have just purchased the Smirnoff distillery, leaving him with a surplus of vodka that he was also trying to push out. One of the bartenders at Cock ‘n’ Bull created the cocktail to help clear out both, and it worked — the spicy mix of vodka, ginger beer, and lime became an almost-instant hit.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Classic Moscow Mule Ingredients

Perhaps one of the reasons the Moscow Mule has become such a popular cocktail is that it’s unfussy. Just three ingredients make up the drink: vodka, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice. All three are poured over crushed ice or ice cubes, then stirred.

Since it’s such a simple mix, you’ll get a great cocktail if you opt for great ingredients. Pick a vodka you like the taste of — not just the cheapest bottle at the liquor store (although it doesn’t need to be the most expensive, either). I like using Tito’s or Smirnoff. Ginger beer brands can run the spectrum from cloyingly sweet to deeply spicy. I prefer the latter — my go-to brand is Fever Tree, although I also like the milder Gosling’s.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

The Copper Mug

Remember that guy who bought the Smirnoff distillery? His girlfriend had inherited a copper goods business, so they created the mug so that the Moscow Mule would have a signature look. The mugs do indeed make the cocktail eye-catching — not to mention help keep it nice and cold — but they’re not required to build your drink.

The Variations

Like so many cocktails, there are tons of variations on the classic. Once you’ve mastered the original, have fun playing around with these five, keeping the proportions the same. You just might find a new favorite.

Kentucky Mule: Swap the vodka for bourbon.
Mexican Mule: Swap the vodka for tequila.
Oaxacan Mule: Swap the vodka for mezcal.
Gin Gin Mule: Swap the vodka for gin.
Dark & Stormy: Swap the vodka for dark rum.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
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How to Make the Best Moscow Mules

An easy step-by-step guide to making a Moscow Mule cocktail, plus variations.

Prep time 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    standard tray ice cubes

  • 1

    medium lime

  • 1/2 cup

    vodka (4 ounces)

  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle or can

    ginger beer, preferably chilled

  • 2

    lime wedges, for garnish


  • Kitchen towel

  • Mallet or rolling pin

  • Moscow mule mugs or highball glasses

  • Measuring cups


  1. Make crushed ice, if desired. Crack the ice from 1 standard tray ice cubes into a clean kitchen towel. Wrap the ice up in the towel, then beat with a mallet or rolling pin into smaller, uneven pieces.

  2. Fill mugs or glasses with the ice. Transfer the ice into 2 Moscow mule mugs or highball glasses.

  3. Add the lime juice. Juice 1 medium lime to get about 2 tablespoons juice. Pour 1 tablespoon lime juice into each glass.

  4. Add the vodka. Pour 1/4 cup vodka (2 ounces) into each glass.

  5. Pour in the ginger beer. Divide 1 (12-ounce) bottle or can of ginger beer between the glasses, pouring about 3/4 cup into each.

  6. Stir and garnish. Stir gently to combine and serve each garnished with 1 lime wedge.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The crushed ice can be made a few weeks ahead of time and stored in a zip-top bag in the freezer.

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