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Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverage Division Warns People About Copper Cocktails

There are many popular cocktails, but the Moscow Mule might be one of the most stylish. Traditionally, this ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice concoction is served with a lime slice in a copper mug, making it a beautiful drink. Unfortunately, there are some problems with this chic cocktail. According to Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverage Division and the Federal Drug Administration’s Moral Food Code, if copper touches any food or beverage that has a pH (or concentration of hydrogen ions) lower than six, the drinker can suffer from copper poisoning. Unfortunately for the Moscow Mule and its fashionable copper mug, the drink has a pH of less than six. A recent article from outlines this, but the story didn’t stop there – it went on to open a national discussion on the topic of copper cocktails.


The biggest danger that can come from a cocktail in a copper mug is copper poisoning. There are some questions about this fact, however. First, no one is sure of the exact amount of copper that someone needs to consume before becoming sick, and no one is sure how long it actually takes a Moscow Mule to become poisoned by the mug it arrives in. Some experts say that the drink will become more acidic and metallic tasting, which is an easy way of telling that there is too much copper in the drink. Even with this information, however, there is still a risk to drinking a cocktail from a copper glass. The risks of copper poisoning are still present, and the Federal Drug Administration stands by their pH-6 ruling.

Copper Poisoning

The mug that a Moscow Mule comes in is made from copper and some say that this is part of the reason the cocktail is so popular. Copper can be dangerous, however. Copper is an important element that appears in every living thing. However, having too much or too little copper can cause serious health problems in the human body. Excess copper in the human body can lead to feeling exhausted, migraines, depression, dry skin, constipation, low blood pressure, and other major health issues. A lack of copper can lead to similar issues, including depression, feeling exhausted, and anemia. Using cups, plates, and utensils made out of copper can lead to an excess of copper, especially if the object consumed has a pH of six or less.

An Alternative

With the risks of using a copper mug fairly evident, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division has come up with a solution. Rather than avoid all cocktails that come in an aesthetically pleasing copper cup, make sure to use lined mugs. Copper mugs with nickel or stainless steel lining keep the copper from coming into contact with the cocktail. This, in turn, keeps any drink with a low pH level from touching the copper, making it safe to drink without the risk of copper poisoning.

While the science is unsure how long it takes to develop copper poisoning, there are ways to avoid this unpleasant illness. By using a copper mug lined with stainless steel or nickel, you can enjoy a chic cocktail without any of the toxic side effects.

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