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Originally published Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 7:57 PM

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Patrons pilfering local bars’ pricey Moscow Mule mugs

Seattle-area cocktail spots have lost as much as $1,000 worth of vintage Moscow Mule mugs.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Some local watering holes may need to install metal detectors for those on the way out of the bar. Or train their doormen in the fine art of sniffing out copperware being spirited away, hidden in purses and trench coats.

Maybe a Moscow Mule user fee is in order.

The theft of those lovely tankards is getting absurd. Seattle-area cocktail spots have lost as much as $1,000 worth of the vintage mugs.

The Moscow Mule is one of the best-selling vodka cocktails (vodka, ginger beer, lime) in the Seattle area, and it’s often served in a traditional, shiny copper vessel (a rather expensive one at $15-$30 a pop).

Patrons love ordering this refreshing drink, especially during the summer, and many, it seems, pocket the mug as a souvenir. Andrew Friedman, co-owner of Liberty on Capitol Hill estimates his bar loses as many as five a week.

Along the hip, barhopping strip of 12th Avenue, Tavern Law is down to two mugs, so it serves the Moscow Mule cocktail in a Collins glass unless customers request the special mug.

Nearby, the cocktail den Canon started 20 months ago with 30 vintage mugs and also has just two left. The policy now is you can only get your Moscow Mule in the vintage mug if you sit at the bar, where the bartenders can keep an eye on it.

At Ba Bar, bartenders make about 50 Moscow Mules on a busy night. So many mugs have been stolen that the bar now posts this: “$35 extra if the mule mug ends up in your pocket or hand bag.”

In Belltown, the bar Rob Roy has lost so many mugs that the owner sells them for $20. Still, folks steal them. Now, if you order the Moscow Mule, the Rob Roy staff requests you leave a credit card. You get your credit card back when they get their mug back.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle

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