Before the victory march of the Moscow Mule, Vodka wasn't really a thing in the US.
At the time of the Second World War, hardly anyone knew, let alone had tried the Russian spirit. However, that was to change fast with the invention of the Moscow Mule.
Today, Vodka is the most-consumed spirit in the United States and in many other countries around the globe. However, you don't necessarily need Vodka to make a good Mule cocktail. There are plenty of spicy Mule variations made with a different spirit base.
The story of the spicy Mule cocktails
The Mule that started it all got mixed at Cock n Bull restaurant. It was there that a representative from Smirnoff Vodka and the owner of Cock n Bull met and created the very first version of a Moscow Mule.
John Martin, an executive at Smirnoff, and John Morgan, owner of the Cock n Bull restaurant, were close friends. One day when they sat together to have a drink, they started experimenting with Cock 'n' Bull's ginger beer and Smirnoff's Vodka.
Both products were hard to sell back then, and the two wondered how they could find a way to market them. In what felt like an act of desperation, they mixed the two ingredients and refined them with a bit of citrus juice.
The result tasted so good that Morgan decided to serve these drinks in the iconic copper mugs. And just like that, the legendary Moscow Mule cocktail was born.
You can also read the story in more detail in our post about the Moscow Mule.
The best Mule cocktail variations
There are hundreds of twists on this simple recipe. And generally, you can divide this group of Moscow Mule variants into two categories.
The first one enhances and refines the recipe. Here, you keep the base ingredients and bring in some new and surprising flavors. The second group swaps the base spirit. So instead of Vodka, there's Gin, Irish Whiskey, Scotch, Tequila, you name it.
This article is about the second group, so let's check out our list of the best Mule cocktails beside the classic Moscow Mule.
Template of a Mule cocktail
Mule drinks are super easy to make. A base spirit, freshly squeezed lime juice, and some spicy ginger beer. The latter is the most error-prone because some confuse spicy ginger beer with ginger ale. That's an absolute no-go.
Ginger ale is way too sweet in a drink like the Moscow Mule. It's not the same as ginger beer, and neither does it make a great substitute. So make sure to get some decent, spicy ginger beer instead. My preferred one is Bundaberg's ginger beer, by the way.
Here's the template of ingredients for Mule cocktails:
- Base spirit (depending on the recipe)
- Fresh lime or lemon juice
- Ginger beer
On top, these three things are also common among Mule cocktail variations:
- Mint sprigs for garnish
- lime slices (optional) for garnish
- ice cubes
- 2 oz Irish Whiskey
- 1 oz Lime juice
- Chilled ginger beer to top up
Refreshment is the name of the game when it comes to the Irish Mule. This easy-to-make variation of the classic Moscow Mule includes Irish Whiskey, lime juice, and ginger beer.
Fill a copper mug with ice and add the Irish Whiskey together with lime juice. Stir well with a bar spoon before topping up with chilled ginger beer. Garnish the drink with a sprig of mint, and your Irish Mule is ready to serve.
- 1.5 oz Scotch Whisky
- 0.75 oz lemon juice
- 0.5 oz St Germain
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 4 oz Ginger Beer
This twist on the classic Mule is made with blended Scotch Whisky, freshly squeezed lemon juice, sweetened with elderflower liqueur, and flavored with Angostura bitters.
Served in a Collins glass or mule mug, you pour the first four ingredients over ice and stir them with a bar spoon before topping your drink up with chilled ginger beer.
The Glasgow Mule is a delicious, tart, and complex cocktail with heaps of flavor. Due to its complex flavor profile, it is one of my favorite Mule cocktails. A must-try if you're looking for an alternative to the classic recipe.
- 1.5 oz Australian Rum
- 0.75 oz Lime Juice
- 2 pcs Ginger
- 4 oz Bundaberg Ginger Beer
- lime wedges for garnish
There is more than one recipe for making an Aussie Mule out there. My favorite is based on Australian Rum (like Bundaberg or Hoochery) and some Bundaberg ginger beer.
Combined with some fresh pieces of ginger, the Australian take on a Mule has some seriously spicy ginger kick. If you want, you can even add some candied ginger as a way to garnish this delicious Mule.
Put the Rum, lime juice, and ginger pieces into a Mule mug filled with ice. Stir the mix, then top up with chilled Bundaberg ginger beer. Garnish with lime wedges and optional candied ginger bits.
- 1.5oz Mezcal
- 0.75oz Lime juice
- 0.5oz Fresh passion fruit
- 1 bsp agave nectar
- 3 Cucumber slices
- 4oz Ginger beer
This Mezcal Mule is unique and a great drink to serve. The spiciness of the ginger beer and the intensely smoky notes of Mezcal create a very complex flavor profile.
Balanced with a splash of agave nectar and fresh passion fruit pulp, this Mule cocktail is another of my favorite twists.
To make one, put cucumber, agave nectar, and passion fruit pulp into a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add ice, Mezcal, and lime juice and shake until chilled.
Then strain the drink over ice into a Mule mug, fill up with chilled ginger beer, and garnish with fresh cucumber slices.
- 1.5 oz Jägermeister
- 0.25 oz Lime juice
- 4 oz Chilled ginger beer
The Berlin Mule is a herbal take on a Mule cocktail made with Jägermeister. As the base is so rich and elaborate in flavor, you only need a bit of lime juice and chilled ginger beer to make this drink.
The herbal sweetness of the German liqueur blends nicely with a spicy ginger beer. In fact, Jägermeister even needs the spicy ginger kick not to end up being overly sweet.
Add Jägermeister and lime juice into a mug with ice, stir until well-mixed, then add the chilled ginger beer. If you want, garnish it with some lime wedges and cucumber slices.
New Orleans Mule
- 2oz Bourbon
- 1oz Coffee liqueur
- 1oz Pineapple juice
- 0.5oz Lime juice
- 4 oz Ginger beer
- 1 dash of chocolate bitters
The New Orleans Mule is a refreshing yet complex cocktail. It combines all the signature flavors of the southern part of the US.
Putting ingredients like pineapple juice and coffee liqueur might sound off, but, trust me, this combination works extremely well. The chocolate bitters add a wonderful touch and pair well with the coffee notes in the drink.
Add Bourbon, lime juice, pineapple juice, coffee liqueur, and bitters into a shaker with ice. Shake until the drink is chilled, then strain into an ice-filled glass or mug. Top with ice-cold ginger beer and your drink is ready to be served.
- 1.5oz Gin
- 0.75oz Lime juice
- 1 bsp Simple syrup
- 8 Mint leaves
- 3 oz Ginger beer
Gin-Gin stands for the combination of Gin and Gin(-ger). It's a light and super refreshing alternative to the classic Moscow Mule.
The Gin-Gin Mule quickly became a modern classic. Invented at New York's legendary Pegu club, this spicy and refreshing mix was a bestseller for years during the early to mid-2000s.
Slap the mint leaves and add them into a shaker with Gin, lime juice, syrup, and plenty of ice. Shake the drink for 15 to 20 seconds and then double-strain into an ice-filled glass.
Top with ginger beer and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
- 1oz Absinthe
- 0.5oz Lime juice
- 2bsp Rich simple syrup
- 3.5oz Ginger beer
Ginger beer can be spicy and quite overpowering. Absinthe is one of the few spirits strong enough to go with ginger beer and also bring in its own flavor and taste.
The combination of spicy ginger, anise, and lime works fantastic and creates a perfect summery drink.
As with other Mule cocktails, mix the base spirit together with lime juice and syrup in an ice-filled mug. Stir the three components until they are well-mixed. Top up with chilled ginger beer and garnish optionally.
- 1.5 oz Korn
- 0.75 oz Apple juice
- 4oz Ginger beer
The Westphalian Mule is another German twist on the Moscow Mule, where you replace the traditional Vodka base with Korn, a German grain spirit.
Instead of cucumbers or lime juice, the Westphalian Mule uses tart apple juice to go along with spicy ginger beer. It's an unconventional but delicious mix that works great.
Pour Korn and apple juice into a Mule mug with ice, stir well, and then top up with chilled ginger beer. Optionally, you can garnish this Mule with some thin apple slices.