Jun 18, 201409:22 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Giving Heat and Humidity a Swift Kick

The easy, refreshing Pimm's Cup and Moscow Mule.

lifestylemirror.com, 2010

A mule walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Why the long face?” da-da-bum. (That’s supposed to be a “rim shot,” a popular audio device using a snare drum to emphasize the punch line on a joke and used back in vaudeville days. Today we have the magic of the laugh-track. Give me a rim-shot any day.)
 
Anyway, it seems mules are coming back into vogue. Not the kind of mules that gently move visitors around the French Quarter, but rather the kind you order in a bar. 
 
The Moscow Mule is one of those simple drinks perfect for a hot, humid summer’s day. The drink is ice cold and kept that way thanks to traditionally being served in copper cup. 
 
The Moscow Mule was invented nowhere near Moscow but rather on both the East and West Coasts of the United States in the early 1940s, when vodka was not really the omnipresent spirit it is today. The Moscow Mule helped to usher in the era of vodka-based drinks, at a time when most folks thought of the clear distillate as being only from Russia. Russia was an American ally during World War II, although even then it was an uneasy relationship, before the days of the nasty Cold War. Haven’t we come a long way? Oh, well, never mind. 
 
In New York Jack Martin, the head of G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc., a wholesale liquor and wine sales firm, purchased Smirnoff Distillers, so his interest turned to selling vodka to an unsuspecting, but evidently open to suggestion, American public. Then there’s John Morgan who operated the Hollywood outpost of the Cock 'n’ Bull Restaurants chain, and who had hit upon the interesting but out-of-left-field idea of creating Cock 'n’ Bull Ginger Beer. Also included in the group that gathered to brainstorm a new cocktail was Rudolph Kunett, president of Smirnoff. 
 
Morgan had shipped a boxcar load of the ginger beer east to Martin, and all three guys had a sales stake in coming up with something that used their respective products. In one afternoon, the Moscow Mule was born in New York’s Chatham Hotel bar.  
 
There was, it so happened, another friend who had an oversupply of copper mugs, and they all wanted to give him a boost. Moscow Mules are even now traditionally served in copper mugs. Invention born of necessity born of friendship with a healthy dose of commercialism. 
 
New Orleans has also embraced the Pimm’s Cup, which is made with an English liqueur, Pimm’s No. 1, an odd choice considering our French heritage and the fact that the drink is famous at a decidedly Creole French establishment, the Napoleon House. The slice of cucumber suggests cool along with the sweet, crisp chill of ginger ale or ginger beer.
 
In 1859 when James Pimm began to commercially sell his creation, which contained “secret” ingredients, he poured the spirit into a small tankard — a cup, if you will. Pimm owned an oyster bar near the Bank of England in City of London and there was at one time a Pimm’s No. 1 all the way up to a No. 6 version, each with their own base mixture. No. 1 was, and still is, gin-based. No. 2 was Scotch; No. 3 brandy; No. 4 rum; No. 5 rye whiskey; and No. 6 vodka. All except for 1 and 6 are no longer made, and No. 6 is available only in small quantities at the distillery on that scepter’d isle. 
 
The English were quite fond of Pimm’s from the beginning, and at one time in the mid-1880s the future Lord Mayor of London, Horatio Davies, acquired the product and opened a chain of Pimm’s Oyster Houses throughout the city. Upcoming next month in Great Britain is one of the premier tennis tournaments in the world, Wimbledon, and Pimm’s is still a featured spirit, alongside Champagne, with which it is often mixed.
 
Moscow Mule
Courtesy of Bon Appetit, 2012
 
¼ cup vodka
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ cup chilled ginger beer
Lime wedge
 
Fill tall glass or copper cup with ice. Add vodka and lime juice, then ginger beer; stir to mix. Garnish with lime wedge.
 
Pimm’s Cup
Courtesy of Chow.com, 2007
 
1/2-inch thick English cucumber wheel
1/2-inch thick lemon wheel
2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
4 ounces 7 Up, lemon-lime soda, seltzer, or ginger ale
lemon twist
 
Use a tall glass. Stir ingredients, never shake. 
 
Take note:
 
• The Napoleon House uses lemonade instead of ginger ale or even ginger beer with a top-off of 7 Up.
 
• Some recipes call for muddling the cucumber.
 
• Many versions use a spear of cucumber.
 
• Some recipes call for an additional splash of fresh lemon juice.
 
• Fresh mint sprigs, not muddled, are often added as aromatics, flavorings and aesthetics. 
 
Many young bartenders, excuse me, mixologists, today look with disdain on the Moscow Mule and similar 3-ingredient cocktails because literally anyone can make a good one, even at home. 
 
As for me, I like simple cocktails which do not cost the price of a dinner entrée. Plus I am relatively assured that my second drink will be as good and the same as the first. My experience is that once you exceed four ingredients, consistency is no longer an attainable goal. 
 
Also do not be disappointed if you cannot receive your Moscow Mule in a copper cup. Seems while the bartender is distracted with other guests, those copper cups grow legs and head out the door. 
 

Add your comment:


Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

about

In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.

 

Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.

 

Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.

 

Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.

 

They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.

 

Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.

 

Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

 

Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.

 

It’s a good gig. 

recent

archive

feed

Atom Feed Subscribe to the Happy Hour Feed »