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Bar 2015

Regular TDE readers know I’m not a big fan of New Years Eve. Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Relative to Thanksgiving Eve, I’m not a big fan of New Years Eve. Also, I’m more of a fan of New Years Eve afternoon, rather than night. This is the day that I gather with men to settle the last year’s sports betting, drink, watch football, and talk about whatever comes up under the sun. So although Thanksgiving Eve is my favorite drinking night of the year, today features my favorite drinking afternoon.

We’re gathering at a new drinking establishment in town. My eldest daughter went there last night. I texted her, “Hey, ask if they serve the Moscow Mule. I think that’s what I’ll drink tomorrow night.” Alas, she asked, but the waitress seemed confused and said she’d look into it. She never did, so I’m guessing they don’t serve the Mule. I’ll probably have to opt for vodka tonic or one of their funky drinks.

“What,” dear TDE reader you ask, “is a Moscow Mule?”

It’s vodka, ginger beer, and lime. More than that, it is the drink that put vodka on the map in the United States:

Until the late 1940s, vodka was virtually unknown outside Russia, Poland, and Scandinavia. In the West, America’s enthusiasm for whiskey and gin overshadowed any interest in vodka, which was known simply as a spirit vaguely linked to dark Chekhov plays and Tolstoy novels. That all changed, however, due in no small part to a Russian refugee named Vladimir Smirnoff, whose family previously ran the Moscow distillery that was the official purveyor of vodka to the czar. . . . By 1946, vodka had begun to make a discernible ripple in the American cocktail culture, when a Smirnoff representative named John Martin began promoting vodka as the perfect base ingredient for cocktails. In collaboration with Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock ’n’ Bull Restaurant in Hollywood, he came up with a drink that propelled vodka into the mainstream. The Moscow Mule, as the drink was known, made with Smirnoff’s foreign-tasting vodka, lime, and ginger beer served in a copper mug, soon tripled Smirnoff’s sales.

The Ultimate Bar Book.

I have further learned from my son, Alex, who works in downtown Detroit, that the Moscow Mule has reclaimed currency with the younger set, being one of the favorite drinks of the other twenty-somethings that bar hop in the Motor City after work. He said it’s not at all unusual to ask a co-worker what he’s doing tonight and get the reply, “Probably Mulin’ it.” When he found out that I had started drinking it, he said, “Oh man. I wish I had known that. I would’ve bought you some copper mugs for Christmas.”

It’s an excellent drink. Ginger beer can be hard to find, but my local liquor store carries two brands. My liquor store is good but not great, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find some.

When looking for vodka drink recipes on line, a cocktail blogger was lamenting that all the vodka cocktails are just “boozy lemonade.” That’s simply ridiculous, as evidenced by America’s first vodka cocktail, the Moscow Mule, as well as two of the most well-known cocktails in America today: the Bloody Mary and Screwdriver. On top of that, there are all sorts of lesser-known vodka drinks that use no or very little citrus, many of which sound pretty good (and which I hope to try making this coming year): Apple Martini (for your inner homosexual), Russian Fizz, the Cape Codder, Pink Fetish, Ruby Martini.

I have to admit: As the author of the (in my own mind) widely-acclaimed Adventures of Beer Man, the gluten intolerance that sidelined my beer drinking was a fairly bitter pill to swallow, but I’m greatly enjoying the cocktail culture that it has forced me to join. I jokingly tell people when talking about the drinking pursuits middle age has forced upon me, “We all have our crosses to bear!”

Have a great New Years.