The first time I ever tried a Moscow Mule was at a Mardi Gras party in New Orleans, back in 2003. I was in college and was visiting my sister, believing the idea of muddled lime topped with vodka and ginger beer served as it was at a friend's house, in a copper mule mug packed with ice and cold enough to burn the skin off your palms, to be extremely refined. It was better than my usual PBR and Winstons combo.
That ginger ale is good, I recall stating to many an eye roll from a group of adults dressed like Jem and the Holograms and their obligatory snide retort: “It’s ginger beer, not ginger ale.”
These days I like to judge most dives by their Moscow Mule. I don’t know why it is, but I have a ritual. I take a first sip and, if it’s good, as is the case at Poison Girl, my cerebral cortex informs me that it’s time to start singing the chorus to Kenny Loggins's Danger Zone.
And it is a highway to the danger zone. Always has been. If you could’ve seen me at Mardi Gras, back then in 2003, having somehow procured a pirate eyepatch and a pack of menthols, trapped in the bathroom with a stray cat and watching sewage back up into my sister's tub, you would understand the horrible choices that accompany this drink.
And yet I return, older and wiser. Because what is the Moscow Mule perfect for, if not for someone like me, an aging realist whose friends consider her a mid-thirties pessimist. You already know somebody is going to judge you for drinking vodka, especially on Westheimer. But the key here is to make it to the bottom of the pint glass before you ever even care.
Most places serve them up too sweet or flat. The mule at Poison Girl bites, in a good way, thanks to a healthy dose of brazen-faced ginger beer.
After one, you can sing Danger Zone a little bit louder. After two, an empty table will mysteriously appear before you and your friends on a packed Saturday night. Watch as the pinball machines fill up with random dudes and couples. At least one of their drinks will slip off the edge of a machine and shatter on the ground but just smile, holding onto the last vestige of your better judgment, thankful it’s not your own mess somebody else has been called over to clean up.
1.5 ounces of vodka — Taaka or Tito’s
3/4 ounce lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
Splash Goya ginger beer
Mix vodka, lime and simple syrup in a glass on ice. Top with a splash of ginger beer and garnish with lime.