It’s a Saturday, early evening. I walk into a restaurant and take a seat at the bar, in front of a mirrored wall of liquors and cocktail accents, framed by a gorgeous antique arch. The chair I sit on is a wobbly masterpiece of mahogany and leather, inside one of those new-old joints that has dark wood, brick walls and metal everywhere. The dashing bartender (of course, he’s dashing) turns to me and warmly asks, “What can I get you?”.
“Um, I, Uuuuhhhhhh……gimme a sec.” I stammer and smile meekly. I hate to admit that I have absolutely no idea what I want to drink. There’s no house cocktail menu to advise me and I’m completely blanking! I feel like the kid who has to write the word of the day on the chalkboard in front of the whole class, and can’t spell it.
The bartender nods and turns away. I know that I have approximately three minutes until he circles back around to ask me what I’ll be having. I don’t want to order a raspberry Stoli and 7-up and revert to my 21-year-old self, hanging out way too late at the Tap Room in Ypsi. I wonder if this place would even have 7-up, or Stoli.
I pull my phone from my purse – full of pens, miniature notebooks and lip glosses that I’ve surrendered to the depths of my Mary Poppins bag – and start googling. Buzzfeed promises 25 cocktails that I’ll “actually enjoy drinking” – but I hate blood orange, and most of the mixers that they have in their list.
The bartender swings back around the bar – damnit!
“Any ideas, yet?”, he asks. I give him that awkward, tight smile that people give when they’re uncomfortable and don’t know what to do. He takes mercy on me, “What kind of flavors do you like?”
“Fruity, but not overpowering. Sweet, but not cloying. Refreshing, but not too dry.”
I’m a joy to serve, I know.
He chews his bottom lip for a second, squints his eyes and then nods. He turns away, reaching into the freezer below the bar to pull out a pitted copper mug. I watch him elegantly pour vodka into a shot glass, tip it into the mug and top it with a can of something fizzy. Do they really have 7-up here? Am I about to get charged $8 for a vodka and pop?
The bartender slips a wedge of lime onto the edge of the mug and presents it to me over the wide bar. I take a sip of the cocktail and can’t stop myself, “Holy shit, that’s delicious. What is this?”
“Moscow Mule. Vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, copper mug.”
In that moment, the Moscow Mule became one my of favorite cocktails. It was everything that I had asked for – a little fruity and sweet, with the perfect balance of dryness, and it was so fucking refreshing that I wanted five more.
Now, when I walk into a super cool bar and the dashing bartender asks me what I want, I know exactly what to tell them. Even if the bar does ’t have frozen copper mugs, the mule is still a delicious cocktail. It’s also one of the easiest cocktails to mix up at home – no flavored syrups or garnishes and whatnot. I got a set of copper mugs for my birthday last year, and now, I can have my favorite cocktail in the evening hours of every Saturday.