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A Tip of Our Copper Mugs to the Tokyo Mule

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A couple of our staff members recently returned from a trip to Japan. While there they found themselves mesmerized by the natural beauty and fascinated by the ancient and honorable culture. They were also a bit surprised to find our old friend the Moscow Mule had been adopted by the Japanese and adapted to appeal more specifically to the local palate. Of particular interest to our intrepid travelers was the variation they found in a number of bars and clubs throughout the capital. Although the cocktail in question was listed on most menus simply as the Moscow Mule and presented in copper mugs it had such an original twist that we’ve given it our own moniker: The Tokyo Mule.

Tokyo Mule

Some Background

Tokyo has been at the center of Japanese life since at least 1603 when the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu declared the city (then called “Edo”) to be his headquarters. While the Shoguns were ostensibly appointed by the Emperor they were the de facto rulers of the nation for more than 500 years, held absolute control over matters of state and kept Japan a feudal nation largely closed to the outside world.

In 1854 Commodore Perry, acting on behalf of US President Millard Fillmore, forcibly opened Japan to trade with the West. The Shogun, embarrassed by his inability to prevent the Americans from imposing their will on the nation relinquished his control over the government and the imperial hegemony was finally restored. In 1868 the Emperor Meiji moved his court to Edo, which was renamed Tokyo and became the nation’s capital.

Today, Tokyo is the world’s largest city population wise with more than 39 million residents in the metropolitan region. It is also boasts the largest economy of any city in the world at $2.5 trillion. In fact, if Tokyo were a separate country it would be the world’s 8th largest economy. Despite its size and the density of its population Tokyo is considered one of the safest large cities in the world and the one with the best overall quality of life.

Bring on the Mule

Now that we have a bit more background on the namesake for our new Mule let’s get into the ingredients that are going to bring it to life. We all know that the traditional Moscow Mule is made with vodka, lime juice and ginger beer but the Japanese have their own take on the ingredients and we have to say it produces one of the most refreshing yet potent Mule variations we’ve seen. So here are the ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 ounces Smirnoff vodka
  • 1 ounce sake
  • 1 ounce ginger syrup
  • 4 ounces sparkling water of your choice
  • The juice of 1/2 of a fresh cucumber
  • The juice of 1/2 of a fresh lime
  • Fresh cucumber slices to garnish
  • Chilled Copper Moscow Mule mugs
  • Ice

You’ll notice that instead of ginger beer the recipe we gleaned from our friends in Tokyo calls for ginger syrup mixed with sparkling water. But the real kickers here are the oh-so-refreshing cucumber juice and the sake. Together they provide the Tokyo Mule with its one of a kind taste while the other ingredients keep it grounded firmly in the Mule family.

A Wee Bit About Sake

It’s thought that sake production in Japan began at least 1,300 years ago. At first the government had a monopoly on sake production but in the 10th century that began to change and for the following 500 years sake production shifted mainly to the nations various temples and shrines. After the Meiji Restoration of the 19th century laws were promulgated that allowed virtually anyone with the means to produce sake and as a result more than 30,000 sake breweries sprang up all over the country. Due to rice shortages during the World War II era different methods of production were introduced, including the addition of pure alcohol to the rice mash. While rice production long ago returned to normal levels this method of brewing sake has exhibited impressive staying power and today nearly 3/4 of all Japanese sake is produced using this WWII-era method.

The Recipe

Now that we’re clear on our ingredients and their cultural significance it’s time to put it all together and create our Tokyo Mule in our copper mugs. So here goes:

  • Remove the chilled copper mugs from the fridge
  • Fill the mug 3/4 with ice
  • Add the vodka and sake
  • Add the cucumber and lime juice
  • Stir lightly
  • Add the ginger syrup and sparkling water
  • Stir once more lightly
  • Add cucumber slice to garnish
  • Serve

About the Copper Mugs

We have mentioned this in previous posts but it bears repeating. You’ll see a number of websites today that claim to provide recipes for Moscow Mule variations that can be served in everything from coffee mugs to ordinary drinking glasses. We can’t stress this point enough: whether you buy your copper mugs from Paykoc or someone else a Mule without the copper mug is simply not a Mule. Just as you would not serve fine wine in a shot glass, brandy in a tea cup or a martini in a tumbler so too you should never serve a Mule cocktail in anything other than the traditional copper mugs the drink was designed for.

In addition, a spate of news articles last year attempted to cast doubt on the safety of drinking from copper Moscow Mule mugs. But the fact is that, regardless what some alarmist empty warnings might say about copper mugs the science says you’d have to consume dozens of Moscow Mules every day to experience any possible side effects. And if you’re drinking three dozen Mules every day your biggest problem is not copper mugs. We can promise you that.


The Tokyo Mule will provide all the lightness your summer bbq needs to kick it into high gear. And remember, if you need some copper mugs for your Mules we have one of the largest selections around in our online store.

Paykoc Copper Mugs

Copper Mugs

Check out our wide selection of premium copper mugs in all the sizes, styles, and quantities you can imagine. Custom engraving or embossing also available.

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