Moscow Mules Served in Copper Mugs Banned in Iowa

When you order a Moscow mule at the bar, you expect two things: a delicious vodka-based beverage, and the signature copper mug. Wondering why it’s just the mule that’s served this way? The Copper Development Association Inc. says the legend of the copper mug dates back to the ’40s. It all started with the owner of Smirnoff, a local ginger beer maker, and a woman with copper mugs. They put together their efforts to create one of the most popular and iconic drinks of the ’50s and ’60s. Since then, the mule has been served in its signature copper cup. But now health officials say it could be dangerous to your health.

three Moscow mules in copper mugs in a row with ice and limes

The Moscow mule is a favorite for many, but is the mug you’re drinking from safe? | iStock.com

According to the Miami Herald, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division noticed something was amiss. The Division looked at what happens when the copper from the mug mixes with food. The FDA states copper really shouldn’t come into contact with any foods with a pH below 6.0. This is bad news for Moscow mule lovers. With a pH of 3.5, the drink doesn’t make the cut. Thus, the state of Iowa decided to follow the FDA’s guidelines on this one.

“When copper and copper alloy surfaces contact acidic foods, copper may be leached into the food,” the statement from the Division says. And this can make you very ill. The New York Times explains copper poisoning can give you side effects like vomiting, anemia, convulsions, or even liver failure if the case is severe.

It’s important to note, however, that this ban in Iowa only applies to restaurants and bars that serve the drink in copper mugs with no lining. What you do at home is totally up to you, NBC4 Los Angeles notes. Though buying your copper mugs with linings is the safest way to go.