The story of the original Moscow Mule is a simple one, and it’s all about the vodka. Before World War II, vodka was not a popular liquor in American cocktails; Americans joked that the word vodka was Russian for "horrible." In 1939, John Martin had purchased the U.S. rights to a French brand, Smirnoff, and it wasn’t selling.
One afternoon, he was lamenting his bad luck to a bar owner who had a similar problem with ginger beer. As luck would have it, a third party to this momentous occasion had an abundance of copper mugs he couldn’t sell. The boys put their heads together and did some testing, and soon a new recipe combining all three was born. Although a copper mug is not essential, it sure adds to the aura of this now famous cocktail.
Although I’ve made other versions, including a standard Moscow Mule and a Blueberry Mint one, today’s inspiration came from a Christmas present. Not the mug—it was a fresh pineapple that a neighbor had brought over for the holidays. My first inclination was to make a pineapple upside-down cake because it’s my favorite cake, but the truth is I had missed that window for needing sweets and the pineapple was perfectly ripe and had to be used. I did have a new set of mugs on the counter thinking I was going to make a Cranberry Mule for the holidays, but that didn’t happen either, so the two orphans came together in one fantastic cocktail that was meant to be.
I decided to roast the pineapple to bring out its inherent sweetness and soften it a bit, adding brown sugar during the process just because it sounded delicious. The only problem was how many pieces I had to sample during production. Trust me, it was several; I love that combination. Most of the other ingredients are pretty standard with the exception of the pineapple juice. I didn’t want to open a large can of it for just a few drinks, so I actually used the fresh pineapple for it, too, blending a handful until it was smooth.
The resulting cocktail was great. Fresh pineapple made it extra special, but if it’s easier for you to modify it using a canned product, go for it. Cut the pineapple wedges and follow the directions to top them with sugar and roast them.
It’s a shame the neighbors who brought me this fabulous fruit don’t drink—they don’t know what they are missing. Cheers!
BROWN SUGAR AND ROASTED PINEAPPLE MOSCOW MULE
- 1 whole pineapple
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (use more if necessary)
- 2 tbsp roasted pineapple, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
- 3–4 mint leaves
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 oz pineapple juice
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2–3 oz ginger beer
Garnish: Mint sprig, lime wedges, roasted pineapple wedges
To Roast the Pineapple:
Preheat oven to 450° F.
Peel, core, quarter and slice pineapple into ½-inch wedges.
Place the pineapple on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Roast for 10 minutes.
Remove pineapple from oven, turn the pieces over, and sprinkle with more brown sugar. Roast for another 10 minutes.
Remove from the baking sheet to either waxed paper or parchment, and let cool completely.
Dice half of the pineapple and leave the other half for a garnish (minus the pieces I just know you will eat!)
To Make the Cocktail:
Combine the diced roasted pineapple and mint leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add the vodka, pineapple juice and juice of one lime and stir. Fill the shaker with ice and shake until cold.
Fill two glasses with ice, and pour the mixture over the ice.
Top with the ginger beer, stir gently, and garnish with a sprig of mint, slice of lime and a wedge of roasted pineapple.