Tag Archives: Cocktail History

The Moscow Mule is Older than You Think…

Have you ever had an idea that you were sure would pan out? Well Russian citizen Sophie Berezinski thought in 1941 that cute little mugs made out of copper would be a hit, so she used her father’s copper factory to get 2,000 of them fabricated.

When nobody in all of Russia wanted a stupid copper cup, Sophie emigrated to America to try and sell her 2,000 mugs. Apparently, Los Angeles did not have much interest in copper drinking vessels, either.

After passing the point of despair in hoping to ever find a profitable home for her copper mugs, fate caught up with Sophie at the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub. There she met two other failing entrepreneurs. John Martin’s Smirnoff distillery was floundering, and the Cock ‘n’ Bull’s proprietary ginger beer was also not selling.

Thus, as the three of them sat down and made a cocktail combining products from their 3 near-bust businesses, the Moscow Mule was invented in 1941, and the damn copper mug served no purpose but a marketing ploy.

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Whiskey + 1941 A.D. = Aspirin

Those of us who enjoy cocktails owe a debt of gratitude to the medical community. Be it straight out of the bottle or infused with herbs, for thousands of years doctors and healers have turned to alcohol for treatment of all manner of disorders.

Somewhere along the line people started enjoying the feeling that herb-infused medicinal alcohol afforded, and when mixed with wine birthed the grandfather of Vermouth.

More recently, in 1941 Dr. Harold George Wolff of Cornell University declared that, “Whiskey is one of the cheapest and best painkillers known to man.” According to his studies, 2 ounces of whiskey would increase human threshold for pain by 45% for 2 hours.

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‘Claret Snaps’ are Red Wine Floats!

In mid 19th century Americans loved floating red wine on top of a cocktail as a garnish. A splash of vino on top of a drink provides a nice aromatic effect without really tasting like wine.

Regardless of what type is used this is known as a “Claret snap”.

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Originally, the Mint Julep Was Not A Whiskey Cocktail

Every year as the Kentucky Derby approaches blogs aplenty post classic & nouveaux recipes for the Mint Julep. It is a thoroughly refreshing summertime cocktail of bourbon, sugar, water, and mint leaves.

However, it originally was made with Cognac. Whiskey only became associated with the Mint Julep when the French Phylloxera Blight and the American Civil War deprivations made Cognac difficult to come by, in North America.

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The Old Fashioned Cocktail Originally had a Confusing Name

As David Wondrich argues in Imbibe! the evolution of the cocktail began with the simple combination of alcohol & medicinal herbs, and ultimately culminates in the Old Fashioned: humanity’s first true cocktail.

Today we refer to it as an Old Fashioned, but originally when you wanted to order one you would ask the barkeep for a Cocktail. As time went on bartenders fiddled with the recipe and fancied it up in a thousand different ways.

When persnickety ‘Cocktail’ drinkers grew tired of the new manifestations of their favorite drink they would order an, “Old Fashioned Cocktail, dadgumit!” Later on the word cocktail would come to refer to any mixed drink.

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The True Origins of the Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule craze hit the United States 2 years ago. People went crazy for that tart & refreshing Ginger-Lime-Vodka combination that needs to come in a copper mug in order to taste right.

The only problem is that the Moscow Mule craze actually hit the U.S. 78 years ago in 1941. Oh, and the “need” for a copper mug originated as a marketing gimmick.

Three entrepreneurs literally sat around drinking to the woes of their failing businesses: ginger beer, the Smirnoff distillery, and in ill-advised copper mug investment. When they asked the bartender to mix a drink with their products (ginger beer and vodka) the Moscow Mule was born, and since the copper-mug-guy was there they decided to claim that the drink ought to be served in one.

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19th Century Trolling

The Moral ‘Suasion (1842)

  • 2.0 oz.- Peach Brandy
  • 2.0 tsp.- Cognac
  • 1.0 tsp.- Curaçao
  • 1.0 tsp.- Sugar
  • 0.5 oz.-  Benedictine
  • 0.5 oz.- Lemon Juice

Before Prohibition people who wanted alcohol outlawed for being the root of evil in our country openly clashed and argued with people who appreciated the ability to imbibe as they pleased.

Back before people got their news from platforms like Snapchat they read something called newspapers. Newspapers were very widely observed, and much like on social media today peoples’ feathers got egregiously ruffled when other people would publicly print some severe 19th century smack talk.

In 1842 the, “indomitable foe of alcohol,” Dr. Charles Jewett of Boston printed his dour opinion of a bar owned by Peter Brigham. This incensed Brigham, whose next course of action was to create a line of cocktails (including one called “The Moral ‘Suasion”) specifically to mock a temperance crusader who maligned his bar via print.

The Moral ‘Suasion purported to be so alluring that even the teetotaling likes of Dr. Jewett would appreciate a good quaff.


The Moral ‘Suasion (1842)

  1. Shake all ingredients except the Cognac.
  2. Strain into a glass with fresh ice.
  3. Float the Cognac on top.
  4. Garnish with Strawberries and slices of Orange, Lemon, and Pineapple.

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