Moscow Mule: a classy DIY drink



Feature and photos by Julie Vitto,
our “biographer of the bottle”

You can tell a lot about a person by the drink they have in their hand. I like to think that I’m an equal opportunity drinker; I’m willing to try anything once. Well, maybe twice, just to be sure. Because no two bartenders will mix the same drink in exactly the same way, it’s almost a call of duty to sample your favorite cocktail at as many places as possible.

Moral of the story: you might not know you like something until you’ve tried it a few different ways.

Of course, the safest place to learn what you like is at home. And I’ve done my share of experimenting with whatever spirits I happen to have in the kitchen. Freezer pops have been known to make an appearance in my homemade cocktails. Then there’s the simple act of throwing a lime wedge into a glass of light beer that seems to class up the whole “drinking at home” thing.

My favorite drink gets this special distinction, partly because it’s so easy to make. The other part is that it tastes amazing. It’s refreshing and can be locally sourced from pretty much wherever you live.

This drink is the classic Moscow Mule. Also known as a Vodka Buck, it became popular in the 1950s. The recipe is simple:

Variations of the cocktail are endless and can include the addition of club soda to enhance the fizzy factor. Traditionally, it’s served in a copper mug (I happen to have five), which you can find at almost any retailer with a good variety of drinkware.

If you’re lucky like me and live in central downtown Lancaster, you won’t even have to get into a car to find what you need to make a good Mule. Around here, you can find locally distilled vodka, locally brewed ginger beer, and locally grown limes.

What I especially love about the Moscow Mule is how customizable it is. From the ginger beer you choose (and there are a lot of excellent brands out there), to your vodka of choice (I won’t tell anyone it came from the bottom shelf), to the produce stand you trust the most to sell you a decent lime—you have the power to make the best Moscow Mule you’ve ever had, right down to the ice cubes.

Mix, sip, and enjoy.