Friday, August 1, 2014

Summertime Sippin' : Moscow Mules

A few weeks ago, the hubby and I decided to get out of the house and go to downtown St. Pete for some drinks and eats. Unfortunately, many other people seemed to have the same idea, so the air-conditioned bars and restaurants we walked into were packed.

Not wanting to traipse up and down the street looking for better options, we settled into some chairs on the closest outside patio—which just so happened to be the first bar we went to our first night in the ‘burg. (We’re creatures of habit.) With the hint of a breeze now and then, the weather here can be misleading. The humidity might not feel all that bad at first, but after about 15 minutes, a beer, and some bites of (hot) food, you’re sweating (and, let’s be honest, cranky).

Sweltering, and taking slugs out of an already-warm bottle of beer that I really didn’t want, I turned to GT and said, “You know what would be really good right now? A Moscow Mule. I need a Moscow Mule. Where can we get one?”

Desperate for the zingy, citrus-and-spice cocktail, I whipped out my phone and googled: “Moscow Mule St. Pete.” See, the mule is elusive. Not every bar serves it. Most don’t because it requires a slightly unusual ingredient: ginger beer. Not to mention the frosty copper mug it is traditionally served in.

Thankfully, Google came to the rescue because—lo and behold—we were right next to a bar that serves the best Moscow Mules in town!

The results showed listing after listing stating “The Mandarin Hide,” and one article had this to say about the joint:

If you want to sip a Moscow Mule in a dark corner in St. Petersburg, there's Mandarin Hide on Central Avenue. You might walk right past the door if not for the chandelier enclosed in the birdcage on the sidewalk. It's intimate inside, and bartenders make any drink you desire.

Reading that, I was like, hey! I remember seeing a chandelier; where was that? I look up the address and, literally, it is right next door to where we are sitting. Fate.

[The Mandarin Hide's well-stocked bar.]

You can bet we made a beeline for the inconspicuous bar’s door. I didn’t even finish my beer. As we stepped into the lounge we were greeted with sweet, sweet AC, several open seats and a whole lot of vintage charm. The Mandarin Hide has a cool, speakeasy vibe—antler-shaped chandeliers, exposed brick walls, chalkboard menus, a buffalo head mounted on the wall—and the bartenders take their craft cocktails seriously. Which I appreciate.

[The Mandarin Hide's cocktail menu, flanked by my Moscow Mule and GT's first-ever Negroni.]

Since Moscow Mules have become my new favorite thing in recent months (I consumed several on my honeymoon), I decided I needed to learn how to make my own at home. Luckily, it couldn't be simpler! All you need is three ingredients:

A Fresh Lime
Ginger Beer

[The making of a Moscow Mule: Ginger Beer, your favorite Vodka, and a fresh lime.]

Here’s how I make mine:

1. Saving a thin sliver of lime for garnish, squeeze the juice of half a lime into the bottom of a glass. (A chilled copper mug is traditional, but a tall Collins glass or a mason jar work great, too.) Drop in the spent lime shell too, if you wish.

2. Toss in a handful of ice.

3. Pour in 2 ounces of vodka (I eyeball it) and top with ice-cold ginger beer, about 4 to 6 ounces. (I found a six-pack of Barritts at my local supermarket, but I’m sure a liquor store like BevMo! or Total Wine would have more and possibly better options. Such as Fentimans. That's good stuff.)

4. Stir, garnish with reserved lime wedge, and serve.

If you want to be extra fancy, a sprig of mint would be quite nice, too.

I'm telling you, this drink is the perfect summertime cocktail. Quick and easy to make. Super refreshing, with a citrus kick. Ahh… If you’ve never tried one, please do. You’ll be glad you did.

Now that I’ve become an expert Moscow Mule-maker, all I need is a set of copper mugs. This smooth mug (pictured below) is chic and sophisticated, though I’m really loving the hammered texture of this and this. They're a bit on the pricey side, so maybe I'll wait for Christmas (wink, wink).

What is your favorite summertime libation? Have you ever had a Moscow Mule?

With that, cheers to a wonderful weekend!

(All photos by me except the last image, via Sur La Table.)

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