You'll have to enjoy your Moscow Mules in a non-copper mug if you want to avoid poisoning. Photo: ISTOCK

Moscow Mules go down easy any time of the year, but the classic cocktail is said to be having a moment this summer. But be careful how you drink the vodka lime ginger mixer: It turns out the traditional copper mugs in which it’s often served at trendy cocktail bars and the like could give you copper poisoning. 

You might be thinking, “Whatever, everybody’s doing it,” if you are, like, a teen in a D.A.R.E. commercial reading this. But of-age, present-day adults, c’mon: Is it really worth the risk to look cool at your favorite bespoke cocktail bar? Guysss.  

Here’s the deal: The Alcohol Beverages Division of the state of Iowa recently issued an advisory urging residents to abstain from drinking alcohol out of the copper mugs. It cites the FDA Model Food Code, which prohibits copper from coming into direct contact with food or drink with a pH below 6.0. When copper interacts with acidic substances, it can be leached into it, giving the imbiber copper poisoning. 

Drinks with a pH lower than 6 include vinegar, fruit juice (so make sure your toddlers aren’t drinking from copper sippy cups!) and wine. A limey Moscow Mule also registers well below a 6, making it a potentially dangerous beverage to come in contact with the metal. 


So what could actually happen to you if sip the beverage of the summer in a copper mug? Copper poisoning, caused by inhaling or consuming copper, could lead to diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or jaundice, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

Here’s a trick so you can still look cool: Make sure the mug is only copper on the outside, but lined on the inside with a different metal, such as nickel or stainless steel. Then you’re safe. Whew. OK, now go enjoy happy hour before we all get nuked. Apologies to every bartender who will now be asked, “But is it copper on the inside?” for the rest of their tenure.

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