This is a page for information on why copper mugs and Moscow Mule cups are lined with nickel. Some mugs these days may also be lined with stainless steel or tin but the plating (no matter the material) is there for the same reasons.
When I first started shopping for a set of copper drinking cups for use in my home bar I was annoyed that I couldn’t find any mugs that were not layered, lined, or plated. Many mugs were labeled solid copper but so many of them also included the verbiage “with nickel lining” in the product description.
*(update May 2016) These days a lot of mugs are labeled as ‘solid copper’ but they frequently include a lacquered exterior which aids in preventing copper tarnishing.
I always thought that the copper was supposed to make the acidic drink taste more tart or “fresh”.
I’m sure many others out there are wondering why copper mugs are lined with nickel; it turns out there are two really good reasons they all have that liner.
The first reason is a functional reason. The copper mug is a temperature regulator. It keeps things colder longer but copper is a relatively soft metal and can be damaged somewhat easily. Nickel or in some cases stainless steel is used to line the inside of the cups to increase strength and durability and extend the useful life of the cup.
The second reason copper mugs have an interior nickel liner is that copper is a heavy metal that can leech into the fluids contained within the walls of the cup. Because copper can build up in the body to unhealthy and potentially dangerous levels copper mugs needs to be lined with a metal that won’t deposit itself into your drink.
Although the body regularly has some copper in it the element doesn’t go away easily and if levels continue increasing you can get really sick. When they get too high copper can cause hospitalization or even death. It would be foolish to drink regularly from a copper glass that didn’t have a protective layer built into it.
The most common reason to by a set of copper mugs is to make Moscow Mule cocktails. Here on Copper Drinking Mugs we believe that safety should always trump experience so we only sell properly lined mugs. On our home page you’ll see our list of Mule Mugs with comments on each one.
If you are unfamiliar with the drink then I suggest reading this page: How To Make A Traditional Moscow Mule. The mug itself is more of a gimmick than anything else although copper mugs do help to keep drinks colder with less ice.