More Than Just Moscow Mules: Exploring The Wide World Of Mule Cocktails
In the canon of cocktails, few are more popular in the United States these days than the Moscow Mule. Simple and refreshing, a Moscow mule provides just enough buzz and more than enough flavor to satiate anyone’s palate.
To take a quick step back: the mule cocktail is said to come from the buck family of cocktails. A buck is a drink that uses ginger beer or ginger ale, citrus, and spirit. The most popular kind of buck is the gin buck (also called a Gin-Gin Mule, but more on that soon), but there are numerous other types of bucks out there. One such iteration, the vodka buck has stood the test of time … just under a different name – the Moscow Mule. But how did we get there, exactly? Who first named it that?
Before we go any further, let’s look at how to make a mule.
Basic Mule Recipe:
• 2 oz spirit of your choice
• 6 oz ginger beer of your choice
• .5 oz lime juice
• Lime wedge for garnish
Method: Add spirit, juice, and ginger beer to a copper mug (or a Collins glass). Add ice and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.
With that in mind, let’s now dig into the history of the most famous mule, the Moscow Mule, and it’s brother and sister mule cocktail variations.
History of the Moscow Mule
The Moscow Mule can be traced back to the 1940s Los Angeles British pub the Cock ‘n’ Bull. As the story goes, the owner of the pub, Jack Morgan, had an overabundance of ginger beer he needed to use and his friend John G. Martin, an executive at the Heublein Drinks Company had tons of a newly acquired spirit (a little brand known as Smirnoff vodka). Together, they brainstormed (some say with the help of one of the pub’s bartenders) how to best use what they had. Throw in copper mugs provided by a woman named Sophie Berezinski and the Moscow Mule was born.
From there – thanks to Martin’s marketing brilliance – vodka became the most popular spirit in the United States and the Moscow Mule cemented itself in the annals of cocktail history.
Other Types of Mules
One of the joys of the mule cocktail is that there are near-unlimited iterations depending on what spirit you decide to use. Love bourbon? Gin? Aquavit? Each spirit – and so many others – has its own version of the drink. Check out some of the most popular styles of mule below.
Kentucky Mule: America’s spirit, bourbon, makes for a perfect drink for a hot Kentucky summer day. The vanilla and sweet corn notes in the bourbon compliment the zesty ginger and citrus notes.
Mexican Mule: Adding tequila to your mule makes it a Mexican mule, with the agave and tropical flavors provide sweet and spicy relief from a hot sun or a hard day at work.
Gin-Gin Mule: Like vodka, but want something with more botanical flavor? Make it a gin-gin mule by adding – you guessed it – gin! Depending on what type of gin you use, the variations on this mule cocktail are endless.
Jamaican Mule: Sometimes called a rum buck (or, if you are using Gosling’s brand ginger beer and rum, a Dark ‘n’ Stormy), Jamaican mules are perfect for refreshing beach sips while watching the waves.
Irish Mule: Love a shot of Jameson or a dram of Tullamore D.E.W. from time to time? Ever thought about mixing the smooth flavors of Irish whiskey with spicy ginger beer? No? You should.
Oslo Mule: Perhaps one of the lesser-known variations on the mule, the Oslo Mule utilizes aquavit, a spirit that is typically flavored with dill, anise, and/or fennel and popular in Scandinavian countries.
These are not the only mules out there. If you have a favorite spirit not mentioned above, try it out. Chances are, it too, has a mule name!
Sam Slaughter is the author of Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum?: And Other Cocktails For ‘90s Kids. His food & drink writing can be seen in Maxim, Bloomberg, InsideHook, The Manual, The Bitter Southerner, and more. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina and can be found online @slaughterwrites.