It occurred to me that in addition to some political motives, there may be some copyright issues with using the term "Moscow Mule" on the packaging of this vodka, lime, and ginger-based mixed drink. A quick search on the interzones will reveal that at least at one point, the term was indeed a trademark of some entity called "Perfect Beverage."
Although, now it would seem numerous other beverage companies do, in fact, use the term "Moscow Mule" on their pre-mixed, often canned, vodka-ginger-lime offerings, while others go the safer route, using the term "Vodka Mule." Whatever their motives were in regards to the name, Trader Joe's has opted for fun flamingo pool floaty graphics while avoiding mules, Russians, and copper mug imagery altogether. Such a lighthearted theme—worlds apart from the WW3 nuclear destruction cover art I'd have suggested were I the packaging designer.
That's probably why I'm not a packaging designer.
Sonia and I have made a couple of our own Moscow Mules over the years, usually employing the gingerrific zip of Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Brew along with vodka and fresh-squeezed limes. We liked them enough that we even bought a couple of copper mugs. I still don't get why you have to have a copper mug to drink one of these. Some say it's about temperature, others say the metal oxidizes and releases pleasant fragrances, yet still more say it's simply about presentation.
Well, friends, copper mug or not, Trader Joe's Vodka Mules are definitely not the best Moscow Mules I've ever had. They are 10% alcohol by volume, and they're only mildly sweet and limey. There's really not even enough ginger flavor, although Sonia disagrees. There's such relatively little taste, you'd think: well all the rest must be vodka...but vodka's generally in the ballpark of 40% ABV. So at most maybe a quarter of the beverage is vodka, right?
The beverage pours perfectly clear and fizzy like your typical lemon-lime soda or what have you. At least they got the carbonation level right. No complaints there.
Plus it's convenient to have them all mixed beforehand and simply pop the top and drink. But I've definitely made much better mules myself, and I'm far from a pro mixologist. Meh. We can always doctor them up ourselves: add more lime, more ginger, more sweetness.
About $11 for four 12 oz cans. I wouldn't buy again. Two out of five stars from me. Three and a half out of five stars from the beautiful wifey for Trader Joe's Vodka Mule.
Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.