Kentucky Mule Cocktail Drink

Kentucky Mule

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

Our Kentucky Mule recipe provides all the ingredients for an impeccable drink. It’s simple to make, ensuring a cocktail experience that truly stands out.

Best Kentucky Mule Cocktail Recipe

Unwind with our straightforward Kentucky Mule recipe! Crafted with bourbon, ginger beer, and lime, this refreshing cocktail is a must-try for any occasion.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

173 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 4 oz ginger beer
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime wedge, for garnish, optional
  • Fresh mint sprig, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Copper Mug or Highball Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill your Copper Mug or Highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Lime Juice: Squeeze in ½ oz fresh lime juice over the ice.
  • Add Bourbon: Pour 2 oz Bourbon into the glass.
  • Top with Ginger Beer: Add 4 oz ginger beer to the glass.
  • Stir Gently: Use a bar spoon to mix the ingredients gently.
  • Garnish: Garnish with a squeezed lime wedge or a sprig of fresh mint, if desired.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Bourbon: When I've run out of bourbon, I've tried using rye whiskey or even Canadian whisky. The flavor changes slightly, but the drink remains tasty.
  • Ginger Beer: If you don't have ginger beer on hand, ginger ale can be a milder alternative. You can also make homemade ginger syrup and mix it with soda water for an authentic kick.
  • Lime Juice: Lemon juice can replace lime juice, but the citrus note will differ slightly.

Making a Pitcher of Kentucky Mule:

  • Scale: To serve 8, multiply all ingredients by 8. That's 16 oz of bourbon, 32 oz of ginger beer, and 4 oz of fresh lime juice.
  • Mix: In a large pitcher, combine the bourbon, lime juice, and ginger beer. Stir gently.
  • Serve: Pour into ice-filled Copper Mugs or Highball glasses, garnish as desired, and serve.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic bourbon alternative. There are several on the market that capture the essence without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: Replace the bourbon with its non-alcoholic alternative and follow the original steps.

Making it Vegan:

Most ingredients are naturally vegan. However, always check the ginger beer label. Some brands might use honey or other non-vegan ingredients. Opt for a labeled vegan ginger beer to ensure your drink meets vegan standards.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
173
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.01
g
0
%
Sodium
 
9
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
11
g
4
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
10
g
11
%
Potassium
 
19
mg
1
%
Protein
 
0.1
g
0
%
Vitamin A
 
7
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
4
mg
5
%
Calcium
 
5
mg
1
%
Iron
 
0.2
mg
1
%

 

Kentucky Mule Cocktail Drink

Best Kentucky Mule Cocktail Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Unwind with our straightforward Kentucky Mule recipe! Crafted with bourbon, ginger beer, and lime, this refreshing cocktail is a must-try for any occasion.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 173

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 4 oz ginger beer
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime wedge - for garnish, optional
  • Fresh mint sprig - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Copper Mug or Highball Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill your Copper Mug or Highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Lime Juice: Squeeze in ½ oz fresh lime juice over the ice.
  • Add Bourbon: Pour 2 oz Bourbon into the glass.
  • Top with Ginger Beer: Add 4 oz ginger beer to the glass.
  • Stir Gently: Use a bar spoon to mix the ingredients gently.
  • Garnish: Garnish with a squeezed lime wedge or a sprig of fresh mint, if desired.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Bourbon: When I've run out of bourbon, I've tried using rye whiskey or even Canadian whisky. The flavor changes slightly, but the drink remains tasty.
  • Ginger Beer: If you don't have ginger beer on hand, ginger ale can be a milder alternative. You can also make homemade ginger syrup and mix it with soda water for an authentic kick.
  • Lime Juice: Lemon juice can replace lime juice, but the citrus note will differ slightly.

Making a Pitcher of Kentucky Mule:

  • Scale: To serve 8, multiply all ingredients by 8. That's 16 oz of bourbon, 32 oz of ginger beer, and 4 oz of fresh lime juice.
  • Mix: In a large pitcher, combine the bourbon, lime juice, and ginger beer. Stir gently.
  • Serve: Pour into ice-filled Copper Mugs or Highball glasses, garnish as desired, and serve.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic bourbon alternative. There are several on the market that capture the essence without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: Replace the bourbon with its non-alcoholic alternative and follow the original steps.

Making it Vegan:

Most ingredients are naturally vegan. However, always check the ginger beer label. Some brands might use honey or other non-vegan ingredients. Opt for a labeled vegan ginger beer to ensure your drink meets vegan standards.

 

What is a Kentucky Mule

A Kentucky Mule is a bourbon whiskey-based cocktail. This drink stands out for its unique blend of flavors. The primary ingredients are bourbon whiskey, ginger beer, and lime juice, creating a taste that’s both refreshing and zesty, with a bit of a kick from the ginger beer. The history of this cocktail is quite interesting. It’s a twist on the classic Moscow Mule, which uses vodka. The substitution of bourbon, a distinctly American spirit, gives it a deeper, more robust flavor profile that’s become quite popular. Making a Kentucky Mule is pretty straightforward. You just need to combine the bourbon with fresh lime juice and top it off with ginger beer. Serve it in a copper mug to keep it extra cold, and you’ve got yourself a delightful and simple-to-make drink.

A side shot of a Kentucky Mule cocktail in a highball cocktail with a ginger pieces and a bar spoon on a wooden tray placed on a white marmol table and a shaker, a lime and a plant on the background.

What is a Kentucky Mule made of – The ingredients

To make a Kentucky Mule, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Bourbon: The primary spirit that lends a rich, smooth base with caramel and vanilla undertones.
  • Ginger Beer: It adds fizzy and a spicy kick, giving the cocktail its zing.
  • Lime Juice: Introduces a tangy citrus element that brightens the drink and complements the warmth of the bourbon.
  • Ice Cubes: Keeps the drink chilled and diluted just enough to mellow out the flavors.

Bourbon, ginger beer and lime juice laid out on a white bar table

How do you make a Kentucky Mule?

Our step-by-step guide takes you through the process of making this drink:

1
<p>Start by filling a Copper Mug or Highball glass with ice cubes, ensuring the drink remains chilled.</p>

Start by filling a Copper Mug or Highball glass with ice cubes, ensuring the drink remains chilled.

2
<p>Squeeze in the fresh lime juice, introducing a tangy twist that balances the sweetness of the bourbon.</p>

Squeeze in the fresh lime juice, introducing a tangy twist that balances the sweetness of the bourbon.

3
<p>Pour in the bourbon, allowing it to settle as the foundation of the drink with its rich and smooth characteristics.</p>

Pour in the bourbon, allowing it to settle as the foundation of the drink with its rich and smooth characteristics.

4
<p>Top off the mixture with ginger beer, adding the effervescent kick.</p>

Top off the mixture with ginger beer, adding the effervescent kick.

5
<p>Give the ingredients a gentle stir, ensuring they meld seamlessly.</p>

Give the ingredients a gentle stir, ensuring they meld seamlessly.

6
<p>Garnish with a lime wedge or a sprig of mint, if desired, to add a touch of visual appeal and an extra layer of flavor.</p>

Garnish with a lime wedge or a sprig of mint, if desired, to add a touch of visual appeal and an extra layer of flavor.

7
<p>Enjoy your Kentucky Mule cocktail!</p>

Enjoy your Kentucky Mule cocktail!

Best Bourbon for a Kentucky Mule

Choosing the right bourbon for your Kentucky Mule can elevate the cocktail from good to unforgettable. When it comes to bourbon, you’ll want one that can stand up to the zesty ginger beer while complementing its flavors. Wild Turkey 101, with its robust profile, adds depth and a touch of caramel sweetness to the mix. If you lean towards smoother profiles, Buffalo Trace offers a balanced taste with hints of vanilla and a spicy finish that harmonizes well with the ginger. However, Bulleit Bourbon stands out if you’re looking for a stellar choice that brings value and flavor. Its rich oakiness and a touch of rye spiciness make it our top pick. Whatever you choose, remember the best bourbon you enjoy the most. So, experiment and find your favorite!

Kentucky Mule vs. Moscow Mule

While similar, Kentucky and Moscow Mule have distinct differences that set them apart. The primary difference lies in the choice of spirit. A Kentucky Mule uses bourbon, adding rich caramel notes and a warmth synonymous with this American classic. On the other hand, a Moscow Mule features vodka, which lends a cleaner, crisper profile to the drink. This difference in spirit alters the flavor and the drink’s origin stories, with the Moscow Mule tracing back to mid-20th century America’s fascination with vodka. While both cocktails use ginger beer and lime as key components, the bourbon makes it taste deeper and slightly sweeter compared to the more neutral flavor of the Moscow Mule.

A Kentucky Mule cocktail, shot from above, in a highball glass with a ginger piece and a bar spoon on a wooden tray placed on a white marmol table with a lime, lime wedges and ginger pieces, close to the tray.

Kentucky Mule Variations

Curious about other choices? We share some of my favorite ones:

  • Irish Mule: This mix replaces the usual bourbon with Irish whiskey, adding a smooth and slightly sweet flavor. Irish whiskey’s mellow and nuanced taste gives a unique warmth. The ginger beer’s zing and lime juice’s tartness contrast well with the whiskey’s subtle sweetness. I like how the smooth Irish whiskey blends in this mix. It brings a comforting warmth that’s both soothing and energizing.
  • Italian Mule: In this twist, Italian amaro comes into play, adding a bittersweet herbal flavor. This change enriches the drink with a complex herbal note that goes well with the ginger and lime. I’m drawn to the herbal depth this mix offers. The amaro introduces a fascinating bitterness that’s refreshingly different.
  • Cherry Mule: In this mix, cherry juice or cherry-flavored bourbon brings a delightful fruitiness. This fruity touch complements the drink’s warmth perfectly. I really enjoy the fruity cherry flavor in this mix. It adds a sweet and inviting touch that’s both refreshing and enjoyable.
  • Blackberry Mule: This version features muddled blackberries, offering a sweet-tart flavor contrasting with the bourbon’s deep richness. The blackberries provide a delicious contrast to the strong bourbon.
  • Apple Cider Mule: Here, apple cider adds a cozy and comforting flavor, perfect for the autumn season. Its sweet and earthy tones surround your senses. I appreciate the cozy and earthy touch of apple cider. It brings a comfortable and relaxing feeling, ideal for calm evenings.
  • Peach Mule: Adding peach nectar or fresh peaches to this mix brings a sweet summer taste that pairs well with the complex bourbon. The sweetness of the peaches wonderfully complements the spicy bourbon. It creates a refreshing and sophisticated blend of flavors.

A side shot of a Kentucky Mule cocktail in a highball cocktail with a ginger pieces and a bar spoon on a wooden tray placed on a white marmol table with a shaker and a lime on the background.

History and Origin of the Kentucky Mule

While rooted in cocktail traditions, the Kentucky Mule doesn’t boast a long and storied history like some other classic drinks. The origins of this beverage can be traced back to the Moscow Mule, a vodka-based cocktail that gained immense popularity in the mid-20th century. The Moscow Mule’s history intertwines the efforts of two businessmen: one who had difficulty selling his Russian vodka in the U.S. and another who couldn’t get his ginger beer off the ground. Together, they created the Moscow Mule, often served in distinctive copper mugs, which became an instant hit.

As the Moscow Mule’s popularity soared, bartenders and enthusiasts began experimenting with the base spirit. The Kentucky Mule emerged from these experiments. The drink swaps vodka for bourbon, giving the cocktail a deeper, richer flavor profile synonymous with the American South, particularly Kentucky, the heartland of bourbon.

A Kentucky Mule cocktail, shot from above, in a highball glass with a ginger piece and a bar spoon on a wooden tray placed on a white marmol table

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FAQ

How many calories are in a Kentucky Mule?
It has approximately 150-200 calories, depending on the specific ingredients and their quantities.
How strong is a Kentucky Mule in terms of alcohol content?
Typically, a Kentucky Mule has an ABV (alcohol by volume) of around 10-15%, depending on the ratio of ingredients. This translates to about 20-30 proof.
What alcohol is primarily used in a Kentucky Mule?
Bourbon is the primary alcohol.
In what type of glass is a Kentucky Mule typically served?
It's typically served in a Copper Mug or a Highball glass.
What does a Kentucky Mule taste like?
A Kentucky Mule offers a harmonious blend of the rich, caramel notes of bourbon with the spicy zing of ginger beer, complemented by a tangy twist from lime.
What's the typical ratio of ingredients in a Kentucky Mule?
The general ratio is 2 parts bourbon to 3 parts ginger beer with the juice of half a lime.
How is the Kentucky Mule served in terms of temperature and texture?
It's usually served cold over ice cubes, ensuring the drink remains chilled.
Is the Kentucky Mule a traditional American cocktail?
It's a twist on the Moscow Mule, substituting vodka with bourbon, a distinctly American spirit.
Is there a difference between ginger beer and ginger ale in this drink?
Yes, ginger beer offers a spicier kick, while ginger ale is milder and sweeter.
Is the Kentucky Mule similar to a whiskey sour?
Both have whiskey and citrus elements, but the Kentucky Mule incorporates ginger beer, making it distinct.
Can the Kentucky Mule be made spicy?
Yes, using a spicier ginger beer or infusing it with chili peppers.
How does the Kentucky Mule compare to other bourbon-based cocktails?
While bourbon is versatile, the Kentucky Mule stands out due to its spicy and tangy flavor profile, distinct from other bourbon drinks.
What's the best Ginger Beer for a Kentucky Mule?
The best ginger beer for a Kentucky Mule is Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer, known for its perfect balance of sweetness and a strong ginger kick that complements the bourbon's richness.

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