The Best Moscow Mule Recipe - How to Make This Iconic Cocktail

 The Moscow Mule is, in my opinion, the undisputed King of vodka based cocktails. With its eclectic mix of ginger, lime and vodka it’s a drink that has stood the test of time - a favorite of drinkers around the world.

As an unapologetic cocktail enthusiast, I find the Moscow Mule's simplicity in preparation and depth of flavor make it a truly satisfying drink to both craft and consume. Let's delve into the essence of this iconic drink.

two moscow mule cocktails in copper mugs, on a chopping board with a lime wedge next to them.

Moscow Mule Ingredients

  • 2 oz Vodka:

The base spirit of the drink. A smooth, high-quality vodka will give you the best taste. I like to chill my vodka first for an extra smooth flavor.

  • 4 -6 oz Ginger Beer:

This is where all the personality comes from - that unique, spicy kick. You can add this according to your taste. The official Moscow Mule recipe calls for 4 oz but some prefer to go a little heavier on the ginger beer (I can’t blame them. You can never have too much ginger beer!)

  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice:

Essential for adding a tangy zest. Freshly squeezed lime juice is preferred over bottled for freshness and flavor.

  • Ice:

To chill the drink. Crushed or cubed ice both work well. Personally I prefer cubed to prevent dilution. Crushed will give you a drink that’s more similar to a slushy, which can also be nice.

  • Garnish:

A lime wedge. If you have some mint leftover from your mojitos, a sprig goes a long way for an extra touch of freshness.

Mixology Tip: Choose the Right Ginger Beer

Not all ginger beers are created equal. For an authentic Moscow Mule, opt for a ginger beer that’s bold and spicy rather than overly sweet and highly carbonated. As it’s the main ingredient it contributes a lot to the final flavor of your drink. I like Q Mixers Ginger Beer and Fever Tree Ginger Beer for a more premium Mule.

How to Make a Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is a deceptively simple cocktail. Make it with quality ingredients and follow the simple steps below and you’ll have yourself a great tasting drink.

1. Prepare the Copper Mug:

Begin by chilling your copper mug in the freezer for a few minutes. This step is optional but it really enhances the drinking experience. There’s nothing like an ice cold drink in an ice cold mug.

2. Fill with Ice:

Remove the mug from the freezer and fill it with ice cubes or crushed ice to the brim.

3. Add Vodka:

Measure and pour in 2 ounces of vodka over the ice.

4. Squeeze in Lime Juice

Cut a fresh lime into wedges. Squeeze about half the lime directly into the mug, which should be about 1 ounce of juice.

5. Top with Ginger Beer:

Slowly pour about 4-6 ounces of ginger beer into the mug, depending on your taste preference. Leave a little room at the top to prevent it from spilling.

6. Stir Gently:

Using a bar spoon, stir the mixture gently. The aim is to mix the ingredients without losing the fizz of the ginger beer so don’t be too vigorous here.

7. Garnish and Serve:

Add a slice of lime on the rim of the mug or drop it into the drink. For an extra touch, add a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.

Variations of Moscow Mule

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so perhaps the mark of a popular cocktail is the number of “copycats” it attracts. By this standard the Moscow Mule is one of the most successful cocktail recipes in history as there are now many twists on the classic.

Variations include the Kentucky Mule which substitutes the vodka for bourbon. The Mexican Mule contains (who'd have guessed it?) tequila which certainly packs a punch.

Or if you love the traditional Moscow Mule recipe and flavors but want to cut down on alcohol you can always up the ginger beer for an alcohol free mocktail version. It’ll get you through Dry January with a little more flavor.

a moscow mule cocktail shown from above, with a lime and mint sprig garnish. It's sitting on a white table.

Other Cocktails Similar to a Moscow Mule

If you love the Moscow Mule as much as I do, you’ll probably enjoy other ginger-based cocktails. The Dark and Stormy, for instance, substitutes vodka with dark rum, offering a richer, deeper flavor. The Gin Gin Mule is another variant, bringing the herbal notes of gin into the mix.

You could even host a ginger themed cocktail party featuring all kinds of ginger cocktails if you really want to impress your guests with your creativity. Extra points if you make a gingerbread house for the occasion.

Bar Tools Needed to Make a Moscow Mule

While the Moscow Mule ingredients are simple, having the right bar tools can really elevate your cocktail-making experience. This is a drink that’s stirred rather than shaken, so a cocktail shaker isn’t strictly necessary here. Instead you’ll pour the ingredients directly into your glass.

A jigger for measuring and a bar spoon for stirring are the key cocktail making tools you’ll need. A citrus squeezer for squeezing fresh lime is optional. I just prefer to cut my lime into wedges and squeeze it in directly.

In terms of glassware a copper mug is how it’s traditionally served. It looks great and keeps your drink icy cold. Just search for “Moscow Mule mug” and you’ll find what you’re looking for. This is testament to the power and popularity of the Moscow Mule - not many cocktails have a glass dedicated specifically to them.

Parting Words

There is no such thing as “mastering” the Moscow Mule as it’s a recipe that practically makes itself. It’s a drink so delicious yet so simple in its ingredients and preparation that it demands our respect. After all it’s the world’s 11th most popular cocktail so it’s obviously hitting the right mark for a lot of people.

It might not be the most complicated drink to make, and it certainly won’t showcase your advanced mixology skills, but if the end goal is a tasty cocktail then this is one you can’t afford to ignore.

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