While I’ve made a variation on a traditional cocktail with this Brown Sugar and Roasted Pineapple Moscow Mule, the story of the original Moscow Mule is a simple one and it’s all about the vodka. Many years ago, vodka was not a popular liquor in American cocktails; often referred to in a very derogatory way and Americans joked that the word vodka was Russian for horrible. In 1939, John Martin had recently purchased the US rights to a French brand, Smirnoff, and it wasn’t selling as no one was drinking vodka.
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 move. The boys put their heads together, did some testing and soon was born a new recipe combining all three. While a copper mug is not ESSENTIAL; it sure adds to the aura of this now famous cocktail. The ‘Moscow’ part of the name is thought to be as the result of how people tend to associate vodka with Russia but no one is sure about the ‘Mule’ tag. Some have suggested it’s because ginger beer has a bit of a kick but that’s just conjecture and it stuck.
While I’ve made other versions, including this standard Moscow Mule and this Blueberry Mint one, today’s inspiration came from a Christmas present. Not the mugs either, no, it was a fresh pineapple that a neighbor had brought over for the holidays. While my inclination was to make a pineapple upside down cake because it’s my favorite cake, 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 it’s inherent sweetness and soften it a bit; adding brown sugar during the process just because. The only problem with that is 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 stored in my pantry so I actually used the fresh pineapple for it too; blending a handful until it was smooth and it worked fine. If you have juice available, just use it.
This was great…using fresh pineapple made it extra special but again, if it’s easier for you to modify it using a canned product go for it. Simply buy the rings and cut them into 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
For the Roasted Pineapple
- 1 whole pineapple
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (approximately; use more if necessary)
For the Cocktail
- 2 Tbsp roasted pineapple, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
- 3-4 mint leaves
- 2 oz Vodka
- 1 oz pineapple juice
- Juice of one lime
- 2-3 oz Ginger Beer
- Lime wedges
- Roasted pineapple wedges
To Roast the Pineapple:
- Preheat oven to 450 Degrees 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 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.