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Moscow Mule Copper Cups Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Copper cups used for Moscow Mule cocktails not only enhance the drink flavor but could be leaching copper into the drink itself, according to researchers at Carroll College’s Department of Chemistry.

What to Know

  • Frosty copper cups are used for a Moscow Mule cocktail because they oxidize slightly and enhance the mixture of ginger beer, lime juice, and vodka.

  • When the mug warms to room temperature, the cocktail’s high acid content can cause the copper to leach into the drink, depending on the acidity of the solution.

  • The ginger beer is the ingredient that drives the issue the fastest.

  • The rate of copper leaching into the Moscow Mule cocktail was found to be significant, and within 27 minutes of the drink temperature change, the accumulated copper concentration exceeded the US Environmental Protection Agency standards for drinking water.

  • Any risk posed by the accumulation of copper can be mitigated by either drinking the Moscow Mule cocktail before the cup warms or by serving the cocktail in a copper mug lined with stainless steel to avoid direct contact of the acidic liquid with the copper surface.

This is a summary of the article, “Quantifying the Rate Copper Leaches From a Copper Drinking Vessel Into Simulated Beverages Under Conditions of Consumer Use,” published in the February issue of the Journal of Environmental Health. The full article can be found on

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