This ginger mule cocktail, also known as a Moscow mule is an absolute classic. It combines vodka, fresh lime juice, fresh mint and ginger beer for a zesty and fiery drink. I like to add a dash of cayenne for that extra kick!
This pungent vodka-based cocktail was invented in New York in the United States in the 1940s but is still a classic to this day. Although it looks absolutely spectacular, it's incredibly easy to make. You don't even need a cocktail shaker as the drink is built into the mug itself. 3 ingredients and 3 minutes are all it takes for a classic Moscow mule.
If you like simple ginger cocktails, you need to try this lemony cocktail with ginger syrup.
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Vodka is the base of the classic Moscow mule recipe. Both affordable and premium vodkas work for this cocktail. Absolute vodka is my go-to for this recipe, but Smirnoff vodka works great, too.
- Fresh lime juice is an essential component of this 3-ingredient drink.
- Ginger beer makes it fizzy and spicy. My absolute favorite is Q ginger beer as it's made with fresh ginger. Overall the ingredients are really on point and don't contain artificial flavors (Ingredients: carbonated water, organic agave, ginger extract, extracts of lime, coriander and cardamom, and citric acid). A great alternative is the fever tree ginger beer, also made with real ginger.
- Fresh mint makes the perfect garnish.
- A dash of cayenne pepper is incredible if you like a spicier drink. It pairs incredibly well with the robustness of ginger beer.
Ginger beer vs ginger ale
- Both are non-alcoholic soft drinks with ginger flavor.
- Taste: ginger beer is a lot stronger and spicier than ginger ale. The latter tends to be more syrupy.
- Production: Back in the day, ginger beer was made through a fermentation process while ginger ale was made through the carbonation of a ginger-flavored drink. Today, ginger beer is rarely brewed and production methods vary.
- Substitution: you can use them interchangeably but will lose some intensity if using ginger ale. Some bartenders would however argue that a ginger mule without ginger beer is not a real mule.
Why are Moscow mules served in copper mugs?
- Copper mugs look impressive. It's an elevated way of presenting such a simple cocktail. You can find pretty affordable ones on Amazon (and they also make a great gift for friends!).
- It's tradition. Historically, copper mugs have always been the traditional way to serve ginger mules. It's nice to perpetuate that way of serving. However, there's absolutely no need to – you can use any glassware you already own.
- Solid copper keeps your drink extra cold as it's a conductive material. When a copper mug is filled with an ice-cold drink, it takes on that temperature and stays cold much longer (perfect for a hot summer day). You do need to get 100% copper mugs to get the effect.
Note on Moscow mules and copper toxicity: You may have heard of the potential toxicity of copper mugs when in contact with acidic food. However, there's no need to worry about drinking a ginger mule out of a copper mug. According to experts, the drink would have to be pure lime juice and sit in copper for hours for toxic amounts of copper to leach into the liquid (source). If you're still worried, get copper mugs with a stainless steel lining.
- Use fresh lime juice as it's one of the main ingredients of this cocktail. It adds a refreshing sour kick that really makes a big difference. Squeeze the lime directly into the glass and add some additional lime wedges.
- Add a little bit of ginger syrup to enhance that ginger flavor and eventually balance out the bitterness of the ginger beer.
- Smack your mint with your hand to slightly warm it up and release its essential oils.
STEP 1: Fill a copper mug with ice cubes. If you don't have such mugs, a rocks glass or a highball glass works, too.
STEP 2: Pour the vodka and lime juice into the mug. You can use a cocktail jigger or tablespoons to measure the liquids.
STEP 3: Top it off with ginger beer. Optionally add a dash of cayenne pepper. Some like to add a splash of club soda, too.
STEP 4: Smack a sprig of fresh mint. Garnish your mule with the mint sprig, a lime wheel, and a slice of ginger. Candied ging on a cocktail pick also makes a great garnish.
Watch how to make it!
Ginger mule variations
- Whiskey mule, also known as a Kentucky mule, is made with whiskey instead of vodka. Bourbon lovers will love the added depth of this cocktail.
- Gin-gin mule is a great alternative made with gin and ginger beer. For this cocktail, the lime and mint are muddled with simple syrup, which reminds of a mojito.
- Mexican mule is made with tequila instead of vodka. It's great if you don't have a bottle of vodka at home, but a bottle of tequila.
- Apple cider mule, as the name reveals, uses apple cider instead of ginger beer. It's sweeter and more delicate than a ginger mule and perfect if you're not a fan of ginger beer.
- Virgin mule is an alcohol-free version of the drink. To make it, simply leave out the vodka.
Frequently asked questions
Contrary to popular belief, ginger beer DOES NOT contain alcohol. It's a sweetened, carbonated soft drink. The confusion often comes from the fact that back in the day, ginger beer was made from the fermentation of ginger, water and sugar, with yeast, which led to the production of alcohol.
Although the name can be deceiving, ginger beer is 100% gluten-free. It's made from fermented ginger and free from gluten-containing cereals.
The best choice is a mid-range vodka for your mules. I don't recommend a premium vodka as the lime juice and ginger beer won't let you appreciate its nuances.
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Fiery Ginger Mule
- Copper mugs optional
- 2 ounces (60 ml) vodka 4 tablespoons
- ½ ounce (15 ml) fresh lime juice 1 tablespoon
- 6 ounces (180 ml) ginger beer ¾ cup
- 1 sprig of fresh mint
- 2 lime wheels
- 1 slice of ginger
- 1 dash of cayenne pepper optional
- Fill your copper mug or highball glass with ice cubes.
- Pour in the vodka and lime juice. Top it off with ginger beer.
- Garnish with two lime wheels, a sprig of mint and a slice of ginger.
- If you like it spicy, add a dash of cayenne pepper.
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