Moscow mule in copper mug

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Moscow Mule Mug

In Eat, September 2015 by Kate Turgeon Watson

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Guy walks into a bar. Guy orders a Moscow mule. Guy leaves his ID at the bar?

No joke.

Before you get your lime into a twist, here’s why: some copper mugs have a history of “walking away.” That’s nice-speak for stolen. But . . .  back to “our guy.” His choices are to enjoy the vodka-based adult beverage in a plain, clear glass or opt for the copper mug and leave an ID behind as collateral.

It’s not just Raleigh spots, such as the Station at Person Street, with missing mugs. Within the last two years the Dallas Observer, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe and Seattle Times all reported thefts of the $20 copper mugs.

Why is a mug the go-to cup for the vodka, lime juice, ginger beer cocktail?

According to the Copper Development Association, a not-for-profit association of the copper industry, it all began in the 1940s as a business strategy. John Martin, who had recently bought the rights to Smirnoff, wanted to sell more vodka. He visited a friend—Jack Morgan— who wanted to sell cases of his ginger beer, which were sitting in his restaurant’s basement. A third person, whom some say was a Russian woman, wanted to unload copper mugs. As CDA tells it: the three combined their losses. And the drink, with its signature mug, imprinted with a kicking mule, became legendary.

Here’s to hoping the “walking away” doesn’t become legendary, too. Cheers!

— Kate Turgeon Watson

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