The Moscow Mule is a pretty simple drink, you just need three ingredients: vodka, ginger beer and lime. Its simplicity is what makes it so appealing since it takes little effort to make yet results in a cocktail with fantastic flavor. So why not add a little twist to the same old thing now and then?
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Moscow Mule Ingredients
Ginger beer dominates the flavor of the three ingredients so this is the most important ingredient unless you’re worried about hangovers from cheap vodka (I won’t suggest any here). Fever-Tree makes a “Refreshingly Light” ginger beer with half the sugar, calories, and carbs as other ginger beers. If you go with another brand look for real ginger in the ingredients.
Bonus Tip: While the name Ginger Beer may suggest that this beverage has alcohol in it, ginger beer is actually a non-alcoholic drink. In a grocery or liquor store you won’t find it next to the vodka and tequila. Look for it next to other products for mixed drinks, such as soda or tonic water, the soda section or sometimes it’s in both sections.
My go to is Tito’s vodka (40% ABV) with a grainy, earthy sweetness that really brings out the flavor. Tito’s is made from yellow corn, rather than potatoes or wheat and also happens to be gluten free and affordable. You can’t go wrong with top shelf vodkas like Ketel One or Grey Goose but it just isn’t necessary with a mixed drink.
Bottled lime juice will work but I’d suggest squeezing fresh limes. Persian limes (Bearss Limes), Key limes (Mexican limes), Kaffir limes and other limes will all work. Unless you’re a true lime connoisseur (who is) you probably won’t notice the difference between any fresh lime used.
Ice is another subtle element of a Moscow mule. Crushed ice is recommended and cubed ice will work as well. Large Ice mold squares or balls are great too especially if it’s hot and you’re looking to keep the ice from melting.
A decent copper mug is key to the Moscow Mule experience as the Copper helps take on the temperature of the drink by keeping it cold. Looks refreshing too! Unfortunately copper mugs are not cheap and many bars have stopped using copper mugs because they are often stolen. You can get by with a regular cocktail glass at home or a bar.
Including ice, an ideal copper mug has 16 to 20 ounces of space.
Types of Moscow Mules with Different Alcohol
- Mexican Mule – Swap out vodka with tequila.
- Kentucky Mule – Might be too obvious but this mule is made with whiskey. Switch out your whiskey for a Tennessee mule, Irish mule, or a Glasgow mule.
- Jamaican or Cuban Mule – Rum instead of vodka.
- Dark & Stormy Mule – Now spiced rum instead of vodka.
- London or Gin-Gin Mule – As the name London might imply this version is with gin.
- French Mule – This one is exchanged for brandy.
Other mule variations include using cognac, absinthe, and much more.
Moscow Mule Garnishments, Twists & Variations
These twists and garnishments are perfect for any night or seasonal and holiday Moscow Mules. Find the recipes for many of the ideas below.
- Blackberries and cucumbers pair well with ginger.
- Add sprigs fresh mint, rosemary, or cilantro, or muddle Thai basil.
- Balance out the sweetness with a dash of bitters e.g. Angostura Aromatic or Orange Bitters.
- If you must substitute ginger beer for ginger ale, bitters are a perfect addition to reduce the sweetness.
- Try a grapefruit or orange instead of a lime.
- Add pumpkin spice, syrup, pumpkin puree or even pumpkin apple juice.
- Splash some cranberry, apple or any fruit drink or cider into the mule.
- Add some heat with Jalapenos.
- Muddle and your favorite fruit to the drink e.g. cranberry, cherry, blood orange, pomegranate.
- Instead of vodka Jello shots make Moscow Mule Jello shots.
Don’t forget to name your Moscow Mule creation!
A little history: The mule was originally created as a marketing scheme to sell copper mugs and it sure worked more than the person who came up with the idea could have possibly imagined.