A twist on the classic, Moscow Mule, this Kentucky Mule is made with Kentucky Bourbon, ginger beer, and lime. It’s crisp, refreshing, and perfect for warm summer evenings. Give it an optional twist by dressing it up with a little fresh orange and a mint sprig and it makes the perfect cocktail for that Kentucky Derby Party!
Over the last decade, I have fallen in love with Moscow Mule cocktails. This 1940’s classic cocktail is crisp and refreshing and it’s served in a cool copper mug. (I’m all about the presentation!) Back in May of 2015, the hubs and I were having our weekly “date night” at one of our favorite restaurants, Spezia, in Omaha.
They always have a special menu, and that week, the special menu played on the Kentucky Derby. The first featured cocktail was a Kentucky Mule.
I had to try one at home. I must say, I like this equally as much as the classic Moscow Mule … maybe even better! This weekend, I suggest you give it a try. I mean, put on your fancy hat and really get into it. Why not?
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Making A Kentucky Mule
Just like my Moscow Mule recipe, I like to keep things very simple with my Kentucky Mule ingredients. I typically use only Ginger beer, Kentucky bourbon, and a twist of lime. Pour over ice, ideally in a copper mug, and there you go. You are off to the races just like a filly running its first Derby.
Over the years, I have also developed a taste for adding in a little orange to my Kentucky Mule cocktails. It adds a flavor dimension I just love. Give it a try sometime and see what you think!
Why Are Mules Served In Copper Mugs
Just like the ever popular Moscow Mule, a Kentucky Mule is best served in a copper mug. There are a few reasons for this. Although the original reason points to using the copper mugs as a gimmick to help the drink catch on, the copper actually does provide real benefits.
First, and most importantly, copper is a great conductor. So it cools quickly and helps the drink stay cool from the first sip to last. Next, copper amplifies the flavor of the lime because of the way it interacts with the citric acids. Some claim it also enhances the fizziness of the soda but I am not sure about that. Could just be a more carbonated ginger beer to start with.
Best Bourbon For A Kentucky Mule
Ok, in all honesty, any style of blended scotch whiskey works for this drink. But with Kentucky in the name, doesn’t it just make sense to use actual Kentucky Bourbon-style whiskey? Of course!
There are well-known brands like Maker’s Mark and Old Granddad. The higher-end brands like Bulleit and 1792 are great too. Kentucky Bourbon tends to have a slightly sweeter flavor and a little less smokiness making it the ideal bourbon for a Kentucky Mule drink. We typically have Jim Beam on hand and use it.
It doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky to qualify as bourbon, but Kentucky knows what it’s doing, am I right? Woodford Reserve, Bookers, Knobs Creek, Old Forester, Elijah Craig are among the many others made in the bluegrass state.
How to make my Kentucky Mule Recipe
- a copper mug – it’s not required, but it does give it that traditional look and appeal.
- Kentucky whiskey/bourbon – you’re choice! The options are endless!
- Ginger beer – best ginger beer for a whiskey mule? I love a good spicy ginger beer when making this Kentucky Mule drink recipe. I also opt for a diet ginger beer, to cut the calories, then I get to have more than one. Isn’t that how that works?
- fresh lime/lime juice – I use half of lime juiced into each cocktail.
- optional: fresh orange – I love the taste the orange gives the cocktail.
- optional: fresh mint – fresh mint is so perfect in a mule recipe! Be sure to give the mint leaves some pressure before adding them to the glass. You can press it with the bottom of a glass, or in a bag with a mallet, or just take it and give it a couple of “slaps” onto your palm. It’ll release all of that minty goodness!
- optional: candied ginger as a garnish. Takes it up a notch for sure!
Mixing up the BEST Kentucky Mule
In no time at all you’ll be sipping on this spicy cocktail!
- Fill copper mug or glass with ice. I love to treat myself to a bag of ice from Sonic when I am planning to make these ahead of time. I also own an ice crusher that works well for cocktails. But no worries if you just want to get to drinkin’! Just use regular ‘ol ice cubes!
- Add bourbon whiskey. Adjust the ratio of bourbon for your Kentucky mule according to the size of your copper mug, and your taste of course.
- Squeeze in 1/2 lime, add the squeezed part into the mug. I love my citrus juicer for this job!
- Top with ginger beer. I typically buy Diet Ginger Beer, and I can’t tell the difference. Plus fewer calories means I get a second cocktail, right?
- Optional -Add some fresh orange if you’d like. I love the way the orange mingles with the bourbon and ginger.
- Optional – Add a sprig of fresh mint!
- Stir. Enjoy.
Love it? Pin it!
Don’t forget where you found this recipe when you are ready to make it! Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board before you go!
If this photo brought you to this recipe, you are still in the right place! I decided to update the photos for this post, as well as include a little more information to help you choose exactly what you need to make the perfect Kentucky Mule Cocktail! This post was updated to improve user experience in April of 2021, from its original post dated May of 2015. The recipe has remained the same.
The Moscow Mule vs. The Kentucky Mule
I personally find both of these cocktails equally delicious. I mean it’s just sort of like what do you have a taste for? Vodka or bourbon? It’s like saying do you want a beer or a glass of wine? What sounds good?
Both cocktails contain ginger beer, poured over ice in a copper mug. Both cocktails have fresh lime and lime juice. The Moscow mule has vodka and the Kentucky mule has Kentucky bourbon whiskey. It just all boils down to what you have a hankerin’ for! Or heck, mix them both up and see which you like better!
Getting Creative With Cocktails
It is all about entertaining and bonus points for unique cocktails that everyone enjoys trying out for the first time. So, here are a few recipes hopefully to help you when you feel like trying out something new!
- Blueberry Margarita (pictured above)
- Pink Squirrel
- Strawberry Margaritas
- Peep Tart Martini
- Anti-prohibition Peach Tea
Let’s mix up some Kentucky Mules! Cheers!
- 1 shot Kentucky Bourbon (can use two in a larger mug)
- Ginger beer
- 1/2 lime
- crushed ice
- optional: fresh orange fresh mint sprig
- Fill copper mug or glass with ice. I love using crushed ice when I have it!
- Add in Kentucky bourbon whiskey.
- Squeeze in 1/2 lime, and drop the squeeze portion into the mug.
- Top with ginger beer.
- Stir. Enjoy.
Optional: I love the Kentucky version with a little fresh orange, too! Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint for extra flavor.
Some of my copper mugs are a 16-ounce size, and I add 2 shots of bourbon. Adjust to your taste.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 32mgCarbohydrates: 70gFiber: 5gSugar: 60gProtein: 2g
Please note that nutrition is not guaranteed accurate.
This post was updated to improve user experience in April of 2021, from its original post dated May of 2015. The recipe has remained the same.