Why Copper? For those familiar with the time-honored tradition of alcohol production, you’ll know that copper is essentially the king of metals when it comes to distilling Eau de vie (the water of life). This is primarily because copper is excellent at dispersing heat, and while that may not sound like a quality you’d want in a cocktail mug, it means that all that warmth from your hand doesn’t make it to your drink and melt your ice (which is another benefit to have a copper mug handle).
Copper also has the unique feature of helping to ‘flavor’ many distilled spirits by neutralizing the presence of impurities in the mash. It’s these thermal and flavor-neutralizing qualities that make copper mugs the ideal vessel for your next cocktail.
Here are 10 of our favorite copper mug drinks:
1. The Moscow Mule:
Our namesake is an American classic, as the Moscow Mule is the drink that pretty much introduced vodka to the American market. It’s a drink that’s become so synonymous with a copper mug that the absence of one is a sign that your bartender doesn’t know his way around a cocktail. Like many drinks of this list, the use of copper goes beyond giving the drink a signature look, since its thermal conductivity means that your ice chills – as opposed to melts – and your delicious drink remains just that right to the last sip.
Ingredients: Vodka and lime juice, Ginger Beer, (A lime wedge for garnish)
2. Mint Julep:
Though purists will tell you that a mint julep must be served from a pewter cup designed specifically for the drink, we beg to differ. The mint julep is a perfect candidate for copper, allowing you to savor that wonderful combination of muddled mint, bourbon, and simple syrup without the detrimental effects of rapidly melting the crushed ice. Combine that with the fact that genuine pewter cups designed for juleps can be pricey, and copper is a no-brainer.
Ingredients: Bourbon, Mint, Simple Syrup
3. Dark ‘N Stormy:
One of the reasons that copper is used with Moscow Mules is the exact same reason they’re perfect for Dark n’ Stormies: copper helps enhance the natural flavor of lime and ginger beer.
Ingredients: Dark Rum, Ginger Beer, Lime (Juice And Garnish)
Just like a Moscow Mule or a Dark N’ Stormy, a Greyhound is the perfect cocktail to showcase with a copper vessel (especially for those self-conscious consumers who might balk at carrying around a hot-pink beverage, no matter how delicious). Here, copper is especially effective at reducing the puckering tartness of the grapefruit juice that can overwhelm the drink.
Ingredients: Grapefruit Juice, Vodka, Sweet Basil (optional, but delicious)
5. Whiskey Ginger:
More than any other spirit, whiskey and copper go hand-in-hand from the backwoods stills of the American South, straight to the bar. Though it’s not a drink traditionally served in copper, we think its time is due, since there’s no better way to give a nod to the outlaw heritage of the spirit than to reference the shining stills of the south that gave birth to the American whiskey tradition.
Ingredients: Whiskey, Ginger Ale/Ginger Beer, Lime
The only straight-sipper on this list, it’s an important one. Though all tequila is mezcal, it’s important to note that all mezcal is NOT tequila. In this instance, the use of a copper cup allows the drinker’s hands (on the cop itself, not on the handle) to warm up the liquor as they sip, opening up new layers of flavor and nuance as it’s enjoyed.
Ingredients: Quality Mezcal (Not Tequila)
It should be noted that if you’re going to serve a margarita in copper, it should be a proper margarita: not blended into the consistency of a slushy, and using only 3 ingredients (no pre-mix). The magic of the copper mugs is on the tang of the lime, combined with it’s ability to keep your ice in its essential frozen form makes us wonder why this isn’t the only way to serve up this favorite from south of the border.
Ingredients: Tequila, Cointreau, Lime Juice, Salt
(or try the delicious Tequila Mule!)
8. Gin And Tonic:
Originally created as a way for British officers to get their daily dose of medicinal quinine (it’s what now gives tonic water its distinct flavor), there are few cocktails more refreshing on a hot summer day. Add the fact that the recipe is simplicity itself and this mixture is hard to beat.
Ingredients: Gin, Tonic, Lime Juice (Half a lime for Garnish)
9. Cuba Libre:
Though most people would just consider this a rum and coke, the Cuba Libre’s true genius is due to a function of geography: namely, in Havana Coca-Cola is made with real sugar. Though this may sound trivial, true believers will attest to the fact that the glucose and fructose used in American Coke just doesn’t deliver when it comes to making a truly satisfying mixed drink. Luckily, these days any grocery or corner store will typically stock real-sugar options like Mexican Coke (with real sugar). The experience of this carbonated drink is heightened by the solid copper mugs.
Ingredients: Rum, Coke (always use naturally sweetened Coke), Lime (Juice And Garnish)
10. Pimm’s Cup:
At only 25% ABV, a Pimm’s Cup is the perfect option when you want refreshment without too much if an alcoholic kick. Based on gin combined with a secret mixture of citrus and spices, the inclusion of Pimm’s No. 1 means that this drink has the complexity of a cocktail with the simplicity of a mixed drink, making it a great option for parties.