A Moscow Mule, in a copper mug
I am mainly a beer drinker, but I like to say I am an “equal opportunity drinker,” so I will try anything once.
When I was prepping for my recent journey to the Keweenaw Peninsula (some 550 miles away from me in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), I reached out a friend who attended college in the area.
He gave me a detailed list of destinations, attractions, and bars. It was more than enough to go on for my short visit. Then, a few days before I was to set out on my trip, he sent me another email. It contained a simple message:
“Go to Shute’s in Calumet and have a drink called a Moscow Mule.”Not being familiar with the drink, I replied and asked what it was exactly. “A Moscow mule is vodka, ginger beer, and lime, served over ice in a copper mug. Delicious.”
It sounded good to me. I’m a fan of ginger beer on its own, and bringing vodka to the party would only add to the fun.
Fast forward several days, and I was in Calumet with my girlfriend Steph, and we found Shute’s resting on a corner. It was an old, thin building—but long. It was built in the 1800s during the hay day of copper mining.
We walked in and were amazed by the interior. The bar maintained its Victorian feel and look: dark wood, murals, a glass awning over the bar. A young bartender asked for our order, and I quickly replied “Two Moscow Mules.” He seemed both pleased and surprised by the request, because we stood out like tourists.
I watched him make the drinks, and moments later, they were before us, in copper mugs as my friend promised. The first sip was glorious and refreshing–it was a hot, sunny day outside. The ginger and lime masked any flavor of the vodka, letting me know this drink could prove dangerous and sneak up on me.
We chatted with the bartender, as we were especially interested in the copper mugs. “I usually ask for a driver’s license to hold when I make those.”
“Why?” I asked between sips.
“We had a couple of them walk away this winter. And they are $25 a piece.” This price was later confirmed when Steph and I visited a nearby gift shop.
The bartender went on to share more about the drink: it is actually a double shot of vodka, which happened to be Five O’Clock, and he did a slow count while pouring. He had to use Vernor’s ginger ale, as real ginger beer was too expensive, and they were already undercharging at $4 a pop (Travel Tip: you can drink for cheap in the Keweenaw).
While we finished our drinks, the bartender shared some of the history of the bar, the town, and of the early days of mining. History was all around us in Calumet.
It was my first Moscow Mule, and it was worth the drive from Lansing. It will be a drink, and a moment, I will always remember.