The Theft of Copper Mugs Has Gotten So Bad the Cost of Moscow Mules is Rising

Categories: Food News

Moscow-mule-flickr.jpg
Edsel L
Dude, keep your mitts off those copper mugs. You're going to ruin it for everyone.
Fancy a Moscow Mule? The drink that may leave you with a headache in the morning has been the source of far more discomfort for bar owners everywhere. The Wall Street Journal published an article earlier this week about the rampant disappearance of the copper mugs commonly used to serve the tart vodka drinks. Bartenders were going to great lengths -- holding IDs and credit cards; only serving the drinks during the day; only serving them at the bar -- to hold onto their mugs and they were still flying out the door according to the article.

Here in Dallas the problem is just as pronounced, with some bartenders proclaiming an epidemic. They're disappearing at astonishing rates at Vickery Park, the boozy drinker's bar on Henderson Avenue. "Every time we got them in they were stolen in about two days," said Lauryn Berry, a former bar manager who still tends bar there on occasion. Berry said the bar got 80 copper mugs for free as part of a promotion by vodka maker Russian Standard. Subsequent smaller shipments went just as fast until Stoli Vodka delivered mugs that were cheaper and thinner. They were still stolen, just not as quickly, according to Berry. "We have two or three left."

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These mugs are so popular they're backlogged at Crate and Barrel until March. No wonder people are stealing them.
The copper mugs aren't as slippery at HG Sply Co., a paleo-restaurant that opened recently on Greenville Avenue, though according to manager Eric Warner: "It's pretty bad." Warner said they buy additional boxes of the mugs as supplies run low and simply view the expense as a "cost of doing business." When asked if he'd ever consider ditching the mugs, he scoffed. "Without the mug, it's not a Moscow Mule," he said.

Goodfriend started collecting IDs in an attempt to hang on to their mugs, and according to bartender Jacob, it's working, but The Standard Pour in Uptown might have the most simple and effective approach to dealing with the thieves: make everyone else pay for them. Co-founder Brian McCullough said they simply raised the price of the drink by $2 to cover the cost of buying new mugs. And now he's breaking even.

So who's doing the stealing? McCullough claims it's not the typical young punk featured on an ABC after-school special, but the 40-year-old woman with a Gucci purse instead. McCullough describes confronting patrons at tables where the mugs have gone missing and finding them in purses and coats, and alleges one customer stuffed 11 of the mugs in a trash bag before jumping over a fence to leave the restaurant.

If you are wondering why bar owners would go through all this trouble to serve a simple cocktail, just ask McCullough why he doesn't ditch the mugs. "I'd much rather see people with a copper mug in their hand than a Red Bull and vodka," he said, proving the Moscow Mule is as much about the image is it is the drink. And now, at least at The Standard Pour, both are more expensive.


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10 comments
fish9er
fish9er

i've been wondering for years why bars don't practice the ID trick. anywhere i order one of these in colorado they take my ID. i love a copper mug, but i love my ID more. oh and also because, you know, you shouldn't steal shit.

RobbyRillo
RobbyRillo

Why do you drive a Lexus and not a Toyota? Why do you buy New clothes instead of Used?  If the purpose of a car is to get you from point A to point B and the purpose of a Jacket is to keep you warm then the purpose of a drink is to get you drunk.

I FUCKING LIKE MY MOSCOW MUEL IN A MOTHER FUCKING COPPER MUG.  I THINK IT LOOKS COOL. I THINK IT TASTES BETTER. MY MOTHER FUCKING MOSCOW MUEL IS ALWAYS AS COLD AS MOTHER FUCKING ICE. 

AM I WRONG? Maybe. BUT FUCK YOU.  THAT'S MY OPINION. Don't try and over analyse it.  It's this simple. I like it, therefor, I do it. Res Ipsa loquitor, bitch. 

Oh, hey, quit stealing the mugs. You little fucks.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

A beer stein is a better container than this "magical marketing mug."

Greg820
Greg820

Why does a MMhave to be served in a copper mug?  What is the history of this drink that requires it?  I personally don't like the metallic taste it imparts, but my collection of copper mugs does look really good on the shelf  ;-)

johnmichaud1973
johnmichaud1973

@fish9er ID demanding can't solve this problem,you don't know what will happen when somebody is drunk providing them Moscow Mule copper mug maybe a better choice,some bars are already offering this service 

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@Sharon_Moreanus A good beer is better than a Moscow Mule.


 And since I have no way to email you, thanks for the tip.

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@Greg820 According to the WSJ article, the cocktail and the mug that holds it were created as a marketing gimmick for vodka to lure a nation of whiskey drinkers. It's shiny and catches your eye from across the bar. Oooh, Ahhh, I'll have what she's havin'


There's a misconception that they keep your drink colder, which is silly because copper is one of the most conductive metals there is. (That's why high-end pots and pans are made from it.) Copper actually sucks the coldness out of the drink and into your hand so it feels colder, but that sensation is actually you warming the drink.

Monasarus
Monasarus

@Greg820 I asked the bartender at the Meddlesome Moth and was told it was "because its a sipping drink and the coppery keeps it colder longer." Give that what you will.


Greg820
Greg820

@scott.reitz Thanks for the info.  So like so many traditions, it is based on the 'ol That's The Way It Has Always Been Done.

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