They are everywhere. Inescapable. Ubiquitous. No matter where you are in Charleston, The Gin Joint or Upperdeck Tavern, Stella’s or Mac’s, you will undoubtedly hear the godawful phrase people utter when they are in search of it… “Do you guys do mules here?” When I get asked this question on the clock, it is one of my dark humor’s greatest delights to watch the look on people’s faces when I answer, “Yeah, but we don’t have the copper mugs.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the recent reports saying you shouldn’t consume anything acidic from a copper vessel. Yeah, this may be true, but we are yet to fully understand if Moscow Mule mugs are dangerous to casual drinkers. For me though, it isn’t the fact that these mugs could literally poison you that irks me, but rather their gimmicky past. The story is simple – a ginger beer producer teamed up with Smirnoff in an attempt to popularize both products across post-prohibition America. So what did they do? They mixed together the ingredients they were trying to sell, but gave the drink its own special cup in order to make consumers feel special and exclusive. The general populous, which tends to buy whatever is marketed the best, ate (or rather, drank) up the idea.
My problem with the whole scheme is that I don’t think the drink itself is particularly tasty or special. So the last time I was at the grocery store, my girlfriend saw ginger beer and exclaimed all giggly, “We can get these and make Moscow Mules,” I took it upon myself to buy the ginger beer – but make something even better with it.
- An Evening on Smith St.
- 1 oz Malibu Coconut Rum
- 1 oz Cointreau
- 1 oz St. Germain
- 1 oz spicy ginger beer
- 2 oz Soda Water
- 1/2 an orange
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- Cut half an orange, slice off one wheel and juice the rest
- Pour the alcohol, orange juice, soda water and spicy ginger beer into the mixing glass
- Add ice
- Stir for 30 seconds.
- Put a few cubes of ice into a wine glass
- Strain the drink into the wine glass
- Cut the orange wheel in half, slide both slices into either side of the wine glass
- Stick in the stick of cinnamon
- Stick a straw beside the cinnamon stick
- For best results, take Small Sips
So yeah, my initial intention in creating this drink was to show up the Moscow Mule, but that wasn’t enough of a challenge. The first time I made a version of this drink, I was blown away by the way the ginger beer and St. Germain added warmth to the topical Cointreau and Malibu. It reminded me of Fall in Charleston – those first few days of cool weather when you start to crave something warm, but it’s still too hot outside to fully commit to it. I wanted to create a drink that captured that sentiment – a drink that Chloë and I could sit on our porch and sip on as the sun faded. We both really enjoy the outcome.
One night I was messing around at my home bar and put a bottle of Cointreau next to a bottle of St. Germain and wafted the aroma toward my nose. I knew immediately they would go together incredibly, and that was the genesis of this drink. When Chloë mentioned ginger beer in the grocery store, my mind went back to Cointreau and St. Germain. I decided to add Malibu to balance out the spiciness of the ginger beer, and those four ingredients made up the drink’s first iteration. The more I made it, the more I adjusted it to try and make it more drinkable, which was something the high concentration of ginger impeded. So, I added a little juice, ice and soda water and arrived at this perfectly tropical and juicy, yet warm and spicy concoction. So next time you are planning a night out and can’t decide if it’s sweater season or not, have one of these – it’ll help you realize it can be whatever season you want.