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Orange makes a beautiful, wintery addition to the classic Moscow mule. It’s a lovely variation on this light, breezy cocktail for the holidays.

an orange moscow mule in a copper mug garnished with clementine segments
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Why we love this recipe

If you’re looking for an easy-drinking, not-too-strong cocktail that pleases a crowd, the Moscow mule is a quick win. It’s nicely balanced, easy to batch or make right in the serving cup, and easy to customize. This recipe:

  • Leans into winter citrus with the natural addition of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Retains all the bright, tasty balance of the original cocktail
  • Comes together with just a few ingredients that are easy to keep on hand
  • Makes a great start to your Christmas festivities or other winter gathering

I first published this recipe here back in 2016. I’ve since updated the post for clarity and made a few gentle tweaks to the recipe itself.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

cocktail ingredients
  • You’ll start with a good vodka. I’m using Grey Goose, which has a lovely, toasty vibe and creamy finish and is from France. Belvedere is another great choice. I’m not really on the Tito’s bandwagon, but if you are, that would be a fine option, too.
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice fits so well into this recipe that you could be excused for assuming it’s part of the original. Navel oranges make lots of juice, so I’ll often reach for them — but you can use whatever you’ve got. Sometimes I like to make this recipe with clementines when we’ve got them on hand.
  • Ginger beer is a nonalcoholic, ginger-flavored soft drink. It provides fizz, lightness, and tons of flavor to a Moscow mule. Choose a good one, because you’ll really taste it. I like Reed’s or Goslings.
  • A generous dose of freshly squeezed lime juice adds a welcome bright, tart dimension to this recipe.
  • Crushed ice is a fundamental part of the mule experience. Over time I’ve changed my method for making it — see details in the section below.

How to crush ice

If you’d like to crush your own ice rather than buying it, you’ve got a couple of options. I’ve come to really prefer the blender method.

  • If you don’t have a good blender, you can place regular ice cubes into a double layer of zip-top bags and bash them with a rolling pin until they’re nice and small. This method provides free therapy but doesn’t work quite as well for creating evenly crushed ice.
  • If you have a high-speed blender or a good, strong regular blender, you can place plenty of ice cubes into the container, pour in cold water to reach about halfway up, and blend briefly until most of the cubes are nicely crushed. Drain the mixture through a sieve to remove excess water, and your crushed ice is ready to use. You can see the results of this method in the video and the “how to make it” section below.

How to make it

As with all highballs, making an orange Moscow mule is straightforward. You don’t even need a separate mixing glass. Here’s an overview of what you’ll do. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I batch this cocktail for a party?

You sure can. To make eight drinks: up to three hours in advance, stir together in a pitcher two cups vodka, four cups freshly squeezed orange or clementine juice, and ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice. Cover and refrigerate.

Just before serving, pour in three cups cold ginger beer and give it all a stir. To serve, fill eight copper mule cups with crushed ice, divide contents of pitcher, and garnish each with an orange wheel or clementine segment.

The weird history of the Moscow mule

I learned from this New York Times article and an Esquire piece that was too annoyingly self-satisfied to link to, that despite its recent popularity, the Moscow Mule has been much-maligned by bartenders since it was introduced in the early 1940s. 

The disdain seems to originate from two places, first one being, in so many words, that it’s a drink ordered by basic Bs. Second one, which is actually interesting enough to talk about for a moment, is that the drink’s origins have nothing to do with Moscow or with mules and everything to do with the vodka industry’s uphill battle to get Americans to drink vodka cocktails in the 1940s.

Can we just pause for a moment to imagine an America were vodka drinking *wasn’t* the province of basic Bs? There’s some kind of irony there to be sure, or a lesson even, but I’m too tired to tease it out. Also, I like vodka.

The drink’s surge in popularity in the last decade is also due to purposeful and heavy promotion by vodka companies. So it’s kind of a story of raw greed and misleading titles and manipulating the public into liking something that’s actually quite different from what they think it is.

So. There you go.

More favorite citrus cocktails

an orange moscow mule in a copper mug garnished with clementine segments

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an orange moscow mule in a copper mug garnished with clementine segments
4.77 from 13 votes

Orange Moscow Mule

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Orange makes a beautiful, wintery addition to the classic Moscow mule. It's a lovely variation on this light, breezy cocktail for the holidays.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
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Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces (60 ml) vodka
  • 4 ounces (120 ml) freshly squeezed orange or clementine juice
  • ½ ounce (15 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 ounces (90 ml) ginger beer
  • Clementine segment or orange wheel, to garnish

Instructions 

  • Fill a copper mug to the top with crushed ice.
  • Pour in the vodka, orange juice, and lime juice.
  • Top with ginger beer and give it a good stir.
  • Garnish with a thin orange wheel or a clementine segment.

Notes

  1. You'll start with a good vodka. I'm using Grey Goose, which has a lovely, toasty vibe and creamy finish and is from France. Belvedere is another great choice. I'm not really on the Tito's bandwagon, but if you are, that would be a fine option, too.
  2. Freshly squeezed orange juice fits so well into this recipe that you could be excused for assuming it's part of the original. Navel oranges make lots of juice, so I'll often reach for them — but you can use whatever you've got. Sometimes I like to make this recipe with clementines when we've got them on hand.
  3. Ginger beer is a nonalcoholic, ginger-flavored soft drink. It provides fizz, lightness, and tons of flavor to a Moscow mule. Choose a good one, because you'll really taste it. I like Reed's or Goslings.
  4. A generous dose of freshly squeezed lime juice adds a welcome bright, tart dimension to this recipe.
  5. If you like, you can batch this drink for a party. To make eight drinks: up to three hours in advance, stir together in a pitcher two cups vodka, four cups freshly squeezed orange or clementine juice, and ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice. Cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, pour in three cups cold ginger beer and give it all a stir. To serve, fill eight copper mule cups with crushed ice, divide contents of pitcher, and garnish each with an orange wheel or clementine segment.

How to crush ice

If you'd like to crush your own ice rather than buying it, you've got a couple of options. I've come to really prefer the blender method.
  • If you don't have a good blender, you can place regular ice cubes into a double layer of zip-top bags and bash them with a rolling pin until they're nice and small. This method provides free therapy but doesn't work quite as well for creating evenly crushed ice.
  • If you have a high-speed blender or a good, strong regular blender, you can place plenty of ice cubes into the container, pour in cold water to reach about halfway up, and blend briefly until most of the cubes are nicely crushed. Drain the mixture through a sieve to remove excess water, and your crushed ice is ready to use.

Nutrition

Calories: 165kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktails
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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