The Moscow Mule Jingle You Probably Forgot Existed

Once upon a time, Smirnoff, the number one best-selling vodka in America, couldn't crack into the American market (via Thrillist). Vodka was considered an "ethnic spirit," according to The Spirits Business, and that didn't appeal to Bourbon-drinking Americans. 

Vodka didn't come to the States until World War II, when allied Russia began importing the spirit. But vodka wasn't an instant hit; it only became widely adopted when John Martin, a British businessman, bought the U.S. rights to the boutique vodka company, Smirnoff.

Martin was known for his inventive sales tactics, per The Spirits Business, like taking two Polaroids of bartenders holding Smirnoff bottles, leaving one for the bar to keep, and bringing the other to his next sales meeting "to show that all the cool bars stocked Smirnoff." His first big break in popularizing the spirit was the invention of the Moscow Mule in 1941 with the owner of the famed Cock 'n Bull restaurant in Los Angeles, Jack Morgan.

One night, Martin recounted, himself, Morgan, and Morgan's girlfriend at the time, Osalene Schmitt — who had inherited her father's copper factory — sat down at the Cock 'n Bull bar to come up with a drink. The Cock 'n Bull restaurant made its ginger beer in-house, but Morgan was having trouble selling it. Martin was also having trouble selling vodka, per Thrillist, and Schmitt had a surplus of copper mugs. It was as simple as mixing Smirnoff, ginger beer, and lime in a copper mug — and thus, the Moscow Mule was born.

The Smirnoff Mule jingle

In 1965, Smirnoff rebranded the popular vodka cocktail as the "Smirnoff Mule," going all-out on a marketing campaign by creating a jingle and dance, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company hired pianist Skitch Henderson and jazz singer Carmen McRae to perform the song, "Smirnoff Mule," and dance called, "The Mule"  — which was choreographed by dancer "Killer Joe" Piro. Per Food & Wine, the lyrics were as follows: "Stand stubborn/Stop sudden/Look cool. Turn it on/Take it off/The Smirnoff Mule!" 

Some of the catchiest and most well-known jingles for TV and radio ad campaigns were written in the '60s — including Oscar Meyer's, "Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener" jingle, Alka Seltzer's "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz" jingle, and Coca-Cola's "Things go better with Coke" jingle.

Though the Moscow Mule jingle didn't make this list, the company was not afraid to think outside of the box, thanks to John Martin. He also used celebrities to popularize the cocktail, like in a 1966 ad featuring Woody Allen, and used the term "white whiskey" to market vodka, which appealed to Americans' affection for bourbon, scotch, and the like (via Thrillist).

Later, Thrillist notes, the company further popularized its vodka by creating more drinks, specifically the Screwdriver and the Bloody Mary. But the classic Moscow Mule — vodka, ginger beer, and lime — will always be the gateway cocktail with its own jingle that warmed Americans up to vodka.