The Buck became a cocktail class all of its own in the late 19th and early 20th century. On the dawn of World War II, there was a pair of gentlemen with large quantities of product enjoying some drinks together. John Martin's company, Heublein Brothers, had just brought vodka to the United States, but were having trouble getting consumers to bite on the (literally) tasteless liquid. John "Jack" Morgan owned the Cock and Bull Restaurant in Hollywood (among other things), and had a huge quantity of ginger beer he was trying to get off of his hands. They eventually, through experimentation and inspiration, fell upon the Buck recipe, but this time they added vodka to it. It had all of the kick of other spirits, and allowed the flavor of the ginger beer and lime to shine through. To sell larger quantities of it, they had special copper mugs made up to serve them in. Martin hit the road, taking pictures and promoting the Moscow Mule all over, and a star was manufactured!
It is rare that the creation of a cocktail is this well documented, but this one is. Why a Mule and not a Buck? I have seem many different theories, but no two have really matched. One insists that is it the type of citrus you use. One says ginger beer makes a Buck, and ginger ale makes a Mule. Or the other way around. There is not really a consensus, but you can call it what you want. Since marketing was involved, I suspect there was a certain amount of showmanship as part of the mix. Alliteration makes for something fun to say! Had it not been named a Moscow Mule, it would have been called a Vodka Buck, and they make have been back to square one with people not buying it.
2 oz./ 60 mL vodka
.75 oz./ 23 mL lime juice
Ginger beer (alcoholic or not, your choice)
Glass: Copper Mug
Garnish: Lime Wedge
Combine the vodka and lime juice in a mixing tin. Add ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into a copper mug over ice. Top with the ginger beer, and garnish with a lime wedge.
Delicious as any buck. I prefer the bourbon version, but the Moscow Mule is still crisp and refreshing. Part of that could be the cup it is served in. Copper mugs have a benefit of keeping the cocktail cooler longer, since they are not throwing off as much heat. A room temperature glass will stay at room temperature longer, while the metal mug picks up the chill right away. Articles have also said that the copper of the mug will enhance the taste of the acidic lime and ginger. The same article, if you read far enough, also says all copper mugs are lined with nickel so they are safe to drink from. However you enjoy it, it is a lovely blend of spicy and tart.