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Which Moscow Mule Copper Mugs Are Best?

While it is well-known that a traditional Moscow Mule cocktail tastes best served in a copper mug, did you also know that some kinds of copper mugs are better than others? In this blog post, we’ll describe four considerations that you can use to ensure that you are choosing the best copper Moscow Mule mugs.

Is the Exterior 100% Pure High-Grade Copper?

One of the first considerations when evaluating a Moscow Mule mug is whether the exterior is made from 100% pure high-grade food-safe copper. Moscow Mule mugs have gained significant popularity over the years, and as a result, many sellers have tried to trick customers into buying cheap metal mugs that are only plated with copper, or even worse, metal mugs covered in a thin coat of metallic copper paint. You might have noticed sellers trying to sell such knock-offs on Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy.

Fake Moscow Mule mugs are obviously undesirable and should be avoided. Any copper plating or metallic paints will start to rub off very quickly only to reveal the cheap metal underneath, leaving you with an unattractive and overpriced mug!

The grade and quality of the copper exterior is also an important consideration. The price of copper varies greatly depending on the quality of the copper, with lower quality copper generally available quite inexpensively. Although a number of manufacturers (most of which are selling on Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy) are able to offer their Moscow Mule mugs at a low price, they are able to do so because they are using low quality copper that is not food-grade. More significantly, lower quality copper easily chips damaging the aesthetic and potentially resulting in dangerous metal shards in your drink or elsewhere.

We're happy to say that all of our copper mugs have an exterior made of 100% pure high-grade food-safe copper. Our mugs are of exceptional high quality and will last a lifetime.

Is the Interior Lined with High Grade Nickel?

The second consideration when evaluating a copper Moscow Mule mug is whether the interior is lined with nickel. While copper is an important essential mineral, it is also a heavy metal that reacts with acidic liquids such as cocktail ingredients. The term pH refers to the acidity or alkalinity of liquids and is expressed on a scale of 0 to 14. Liquids with a pH below 7, like lemon juice, are considered acidic while liquids with a pH above 7, like liquid soap, are considered alkaline. Liquids with a pH of 7, like water, are considered neutral. The pH of a traditional Moscow Mule, along with many delicious beverages, is well below 6, mainly as a result of the alcohol and other acids contained in the cocktail. Any acidic drink will corrode the copper in a mug without a nickel lining, which will then leach back into the drink and increase the level of copper consumed.

Accordingly, if you use a copper mug that is not lined with nickel with any drink that is even slightly acidic, the acidic fluids in your drink will cause a chemical reaction which will literally cause you to ingest large amounts of copper, leading to an unhealthy and potentially dangerous concentration of copper in your body. High concentrations of copper are very poisonous and have led to various food borne illnesses. Some symptoms of copper poisoning include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and jaundice, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

All of our copper mugs are lined with a layer of high-grade nickel. Why is nickel lining so important? In short, unlike copper, nickel does not corrode or otherwise react when put in contact with acidic liquids. As a result, a cocktail or other drink enjoyed in a nickel-lined copper mug will not experience any copper leaching, which means that your health is fully protected!

How is the Handle Attached to the Mug?

The third consideration when evaluating a copper Moscow Mule mug is how the handle is attached to the mug. In general, handles can be either welded or riveted. There are some very important differences between the two that can have a significant impact on your health and your enjoyment of your copper mug.

In the case of a welded handle, heat has been used to melt the metal out of which the handle is made in order to attach the handle to the body of the Moscow Mule mug. The welding process should, if performed properly, leave the interior of the body of the copper mug completely intact. Although welding is a more complicated and expensive process, it will, when properly performed, ensure that your Moscow Mule mugs will be completely water-tight and leak free.

On the other hand, in the case of a riveted handle, metal bolts have been used to attach the handle to the body of the Moscow Mule mug. The riveting process is much easier and cheaper than the welding process, and is therefore the preferred method for attaching handles for many manufacturers. However, there are several problems with the riveting process. First, the rivets themselves are rarely copper and are often made from a metal alloy which contains toxic metals such as lead. Second, the riveting process creates holes in the body of the copper mug which lead to constant leaking.

Manufacturers who produce riveted copper mugs often add glue to the interior of the copper mug to fill the holes left by the rivets in order to prevent leaking. Unfortunately, the glue these manufacturers tend to use has a very strong chemical smell, is highly toxic and will contaminate your drink.

It is in your best interest to consider copper mugs with a welded handle rather than a riveted handle. It’s also important to ensure that the welding process has been properly performed. Some inexperienced manufacturers apply too much heat during the welding process, which causes microscopic holes to be “burnt” through the body of the copper mug. Although these holes are small and hard to see, they will eventually lead to leaks in the same way as mugs with riveted handles.

At Moscow Muled all of our mugs are handcrafted with handles that have been welded to the body of the copper mug, which leaves them intact on the inside and ensures that they remain water-tight and leak-free. All of our mugs are also handmade by skilled craftsmen to ensure perfection in the welding process.

What is the Texture of the Mug?

The fourth and final consideration when evaluating a copper mug is its texture. In general, copper mugs are either smooth or hammered.

A smooth copper mug is made from copper sheets that are flat and have not been indented. Conversely, a hammered copper mug is essentially a smooth copper mug that has had its exterior “tapped” hundreds of times with a small hammer in order to create an indented texture.

Hammered copper mugs provide a beautiful and unique aesthetic which also reduces the occurrence and visibility of copper patina, which is generated through the natural process of oxidation. Smooth copper mugs will show copper patina more noticeably and will require more polishing as a result.

At Moscow Muled all of our mugs are hammered in order to create a beautiful and unique aesthetic, and to minimize the visibility of patina.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post summarizing the top four considerations when evaluating a copper mug, and we hope this guide will be of assistance to you when purchasing your own copper mugs!

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The Kombucha Mule: A Funky Alternative to the Traditional Moscow Mule

Nothing quite compares to an icy cool Moscow Mule on a hot day. But what if you are following a diet and don’t want all the sugar typically found in ginger beer? Did you know our copper mugs are perfect for keeping any drink icy cold, and not just Moscow Mules? We recently discovered a healthy and delicious twist on our favorite cocktail that tastes incredible in our copper mugs.

We’ve been using kombucha in place of ginger beer and the tart and fizzy beverage is all the rage in health circles. You may remember mushroom tea from the 90s that sat on the counter in a large jar for months growing a mushroom like disc at the top known as a SCOBY (which is short for "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast"). Many of our parents drank the tea and many of us remember that it had such a questionable smell that we couldn’t bring ourselves to try it. But now mushroom tea, or kombucha, has become mainstream and can easily be purchased from most grocery stores. And we can personally attest that it tastes delicious.

But what is kombucha anyways? Kombucha is essentially sweet black or green tea fermented with a culture of yeast and bacteria (or a SCOBY). It’s generally made with only four ingredients: tea, water, sugar, and SCOBY. While that might not sound appetizing, it tastes like carbonated iced tea with a slightly acidic finish. And what’s more, it’s incredibly good for you and might even help curb your hangover. Sign us up!

Kombucha is full of probiotics, antioxidants, and B vitamins to name a few. Probiotics are live, healthy bacteria that help create a healthy balance of organisms in your intestines. Kombucha is also said to have detoxification properties which cleanse the body and support a healthy immune style, which is why you might wake up without a hangover after indulging in this delicious beverage.

You can buy your own kombucha, ready made from the store and flavoured with delicious additions such as ginger, raspberry, or mint. For the more adventurous, you can even make your own kombucha from scratch if you have a small SCOBY to start the tea. You can sometimes find SCOBYs at farmer’s markets, Etsy, or even Craigslist (weird but true), but the easiest way would be to find a friend who already makes homemade kombucha and can give you a piece of their SCOBY.

Fun fact: did you know kombucha has a small percentage of alcohol already in it? You might have felt that slight wine buzz after downing a bottle quickly with lunch and that’s due to the small alcohol content. The alcohol content is less than 0.5% which is why it doesn’t have to be labeled on the bottle and you don’t have to be a certain age to purchase according to the rules and regulations of the Food and Drug Administration.

Once you’ve found your kombucha (for simplicity we prefer to buy our own ready made ginger kombucha) you can get started with your delicious kombucha mule recipe. If you’re serving guests that aren’t big drinkers, feel free to omit the vodka for a virgin cocktail that tastes seriously good.

Kombucha Mule Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 ounces premium vodka
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Ice cubes
1/2 cup ginger kombucha
Fresh herbs for garnish such as mint, basil or rosemary

Directions:

Pour vodka and lime juice into copper mugs
Add ice and ginger kombucha
Stir to combine
Garnish with fresh herbs

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Why You Should Only Use Moscow Mule Copper Mugs With Nickel Lining

Recently in the media there have been many articles warning the public of the dangers of drinking Moscow Mules and other cocktails out of copper mugs. With sensationalist headlines like “Are Moscow Mule Copper Mugs Really Poisoning People?” you have good reason to be concerned and conduct your own research! As lovers of the traditional Moscow Mule drink and other cocktails served in a copper mug, we wanted to take this opportunity to dive into why it’s so important to always use a nickel lined copper mug like ours when enjoying your favorite cocktail.

The Origin of the Copper Mug

The Moscow Mule is a popular drink made of vodka, ginger beer, and freshly squeezed lime served over ice in a copper mug. It’s a refreshing cocktail that is said to have been invented in 1941 in a Los Angeles British Pub called Cock ’n’ Bull. Legend has it the owners of a vodka, ginger beer and copper mug company all found themselves in that pub on the same day lamenting about how slow their sales had been. Together along with the pub bartender, they devised a recipe for the Moscow Mule served in a distinctive copper mug. One of the creators traveled the US taking pictures of patrons drinking the cocktail with Polaroid cameras, a cutting edge invention of the day. As the Polaroids began to circulate, so too did the popularity of this novel cocktail. The Moscow Mule was born.

While originally the copper mug might have been paired with the Moscow Mule purely as a marketing gimmick, it turned out the mugs had some interesting properties that enhanced the popular cocktail. Copper mugs help keep cocktails cold for longer and with less ice than a typical glass. The copper in the mug also reacts with the lime and ginger beer to give the traditional Moscow Mule cocktail more of a ‘kick’. But as it turns out, the kick from the reaction between a pure copper mug and the ingredients of a Moscow Mule might actually be detrimental to your health!

Why Copper Mugs Without Nickel Lining Are Dangerous

While copper is an important essential mineral, it is also a heavy metal that reacts with acidic liquids such as cocktail ingredients. Any acidic drink will corrode the copper contained in a mug without a nickel lining, which will then leach back into the drink and increase the level of copper consumed.

In some cases, you may be able to detect a metallic taste in your drink, which can provide a warning that there is too much copper in your drink and that you should not continue drinking it. However, in some cases, the flavors in your cocktail may mask the presence of excessive copper in the drink, thereby leading you to believe that your drink is safe.

The rate at which copper will leach into a drink depends on a variety of factors including the acidity level of the drink, its temperature, the quality of the copper mug, and the length of time the drink remains in the mug – but there is no doubt that copper leaching is inevitable in any copper mug that does not have a protective nickel lining, and there is no doubt that the leaching process begins immediately upon contact.

How acidic does a drink need to be before you should be concerned about having it in a copper mug? According to a recent report released by Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division, and in keeping with Food and Drug Administration guidelines, copper should not come into contact with acidic foods with a pH below six. The pH of a traditional Moscow Mule, along with many of your favorite beverages, is well below 6, largely as a result of the alcohol and other acids contained in the cocktail.

The term pH refers to the acidity or alkalinity of liquids and is expressed on a scale of 0 to 14. Liquids with a pH below 7, like lemon juice, are considered acidic while liquids with a pH above 7, like liquid soap, are considered alkaline. Liquids with a pH of 7, like water, are considered neutral. Liquids like wine, beer, fruit juice, soda, tea (and even water with a dash of lemon in it) all have pHs well below 6. In short, the only safe use of a pure copper mug is for drinking water, which has a neutral pH.

Accordingly, if you use a copper mug that is not lined with nickel with any drink that is even slightly acidic, the acidic fluids in your drink will cause a chemical reaction which will literally cause you to ingest large amounts of copper, leading to an unhealthy and potentially dangerous concentration of copper in your body.

The matter is so significant that the Food and Drug Administration has prohibited food or drink with pH levels below 6 from coming into contact with copper at licensed premises like bars or restaurants. The Food and Drug Administration also requires that anyone serving beverages through pipes must ensure that sufficient mechanisms are in place to ensure that copper is prevented from leaching into the drinks.

High concentrations of copper are very poisonous and have caused various food borne illnesses. Symptoms of copper poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and jaundice, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. In fact, in one report published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers discovered an outbreak of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea among party-goers who had consumed cocktails at a party that have been sitting in copper cocktail shakers. The researchers determined that the concentration of copper in the drinks caused symptoms of chemical food poisoning precipitated by the consumption of alcohol on an empty stomach.

While one drink from a copper mug without nickel lining won’t kill you, long-term exposure can pose serious health issues such as liver problems and low blood pressure. In some cases, severe copper poisoning can cause liver failure and death.

This recent report comes as no surprise to chefs and food scientists who have, for centuries, known to never use copper cookware with acidic recipes like tomato sauce. Beyond the negative health effects, using copper cookware with acidic foods results in metallic tasting recipes. No thanks!

However, while copper cookware has been used for centuries, the use of copper mugs with cocktails such as the Moscow Mule is a relatively new phenomenon and has only recently achieved widespread popularity. As a result, the health risks of using copper mugs without nickel lining have not received the same attention until now.

The Solution: Nickel-Lined Copper Mugs

The good news is that not all copper Moscow Mule mugs are created equal. Some are lined with nickel, including our copper mugs. Why is nickel lining so important? In short, unlike copper, nickel does not corrode or otherwise react when put in contact with acidic liquids. As a result, a cocktail or other drink enjoyed in a nickel-lined copper mug will not experience any copper leaching, which means that your health is fully protected!

In fact, Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division recommends that if bar and restaurant owners are going to use copper mugs for acidic drinks such as the Moscow Mule, then they should use copper mugs lined with nickel in order to avoid copper leaching.

In order to protect the health of our customers, we specifically choose to only manufacture and sell copper mugs made from 100% pure high-grade and food-safe copper with an inner layer of high-grade nickel. As a result, you can enjoy your favourite cocktail in one of our copper Moscow mule mugs for years to come without worrying about copper poisoning or other negative health effects.

Cocktails from our Moscow Mule mugs taste pure and fresh. Like the original Moscow Mule mugs, ours are also great insulators that help keep your drink cold and frosty. The nickel lining in our copper mugs also has an added functional benefit. In particular, because copper is a very soft metal, it can become damaged by repeated use. Nickel plating increases the strength and durability of your copper mug and greatly extends its life!

Cleaning your nickel lined copper mug is simple. Clean the inside of your copper mug with warm water, soap and a soft cloth and dry it immediately. Be sure to never wash your copper mug with detergents or in a dishwasher. The exterior of the mug will naturally patina over time, which many of our customers enjoy. If you wish to remove the patina, simply sprinkle a pinch of salt on a slice of lemon, allow the salt to dissolve, and then gently rub it on the surface of the mug. The lemon and salt will form a mixture that will naturally remove the patina and restore the copper’s shine. Once done, rinse with water and dry well.

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Ginger Beer for Moscow Mule

Our customers often ask for our favorite ginger beer for Moscow Mule. Finding the right ginger beer makes all the difference in a perfect tasting Moscow Mule! We love a local ginger beer we recently discovered called Dickie's Ginger. We also love the classic Reed's Ginger Brew that you can find just about anywhere.

What's the best ginger beer for Moscow Mule in your opinion? Let us know in the comments!

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Best Vodka for Moscow Mule

Another great question we're often asked is what is the best vodka for Moscow Mule? For special occasions we love using Grey Goose vodka for that VIP edge, and for everyday our favorite is Smirnoff Vodka.

What vodka do you use in your favorite Moscow Mule recipe?

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