Moscow Mule: cool drink, bad idea

One of the trendiest drinks of 2017 is the Moscow Mule: a refreshing mix of vodka, ginger beer and lime juice.
Much of the cocktail’s appeal is down to the fact it’s often served in very Instagram-friendly copper-coloured mugs.
But now a US state department has issued a warning that these pretty vessels could give you food poisoning if they have not been specially made for cocktails.
The stark message comes from the state of Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division, which has warned that copper and copper alloys are poisonous if consumed.
When these metals come into contact with food or drink with a pH level lower than 6, copper may leak into the edible substance and can be accidentally consumed.
The warning states: ‘High concentrations of copper are poisonous and have caused foodborne illness.’
The pH level of a Moscow Mule is well below 6, which is why Iowa and several other states have issued the warning as these cocktails are often served in copper mugs.

Symptoms of copper food poisoning can occur immediately which includes nausea, vomiting (green), diarrhea and can leave a metallic taste in the mouth.
Never a good idea to dispense high acid foods with anything copper but that drink sounds good.

When I dream, I dream of barf and sanitizer concentration

Ben had a dream.

“I was at a Chick-Fil-A by myself, sat down at a table next to a family (bunch of boys, mom and dad). One of the kids, probably a 6-year-old, threw up on my back and it splattered all over the floor, table and seats.

“Staff came out to clean it up – but I didn’t leave to go clean myself up, I just stood there watching, taking pictures with my phone and asking them what kind of sanitizer they were using, whether it was a different concentration that what they would normally use, and how far from the puke they were going to clean and sanitize.”

I won’t get into the Freudian or Jungian or Bromancian aspects of Ben sharing his dream with me via e-mail (and Amy and Schaffner); it’s how we roll. But Ben’s dream is grounded in the reality of stories we see daily, where people barf and a bunch of others get sick with norovirus.

Researchers from the Netherlands and Germany report in the current Eurosurveillance about a norovirus outbreak triggered by copper intoxication on a coach trip from the Netherlands to Germany.

From the abstract:

Overall, 30 of 40 people (including drivers and crew) developed nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea, 11 of them on the first day of the trip. The incidence epidemic curve showed a first peak on Day 1 and a second on Day 4. Nine passengers were hospitalised with gastrointestinal symptoms. Norovirus was found in stool samples from two patients, but the infection could not explain the first peak in the epidemic curve only a few hours after departure. Interviews with the passengers and an inspection of the coach and its water supply implicated the water used for coffee and tea as the potential source.

Microbiological investigations of the water were negative, but chemical analysis showed a toxic concentration of copper. Blood copper levels as well as renal and liver function were determined in 28 of the 32 passengers who had been exposed to the water. One passenger who did not have gastrointestinal symptoms had an elevated copper level of 25.9 µmol/L, without loss of liver or renal function. It is likely that the spread of norovirus was enhanced because of vomiting of one of the passengers due to copper intoxication.

The complete paper is available at

In response to Ben’s e-mail this morning, I asked if he could get paid to do anything else, and that maybe he needs a change.

He replied, “Don’t want to change a thing. In related news, I don’t really have any other skills.”