Where to Drink a Moscow Mule

Spice up your palate with vodka, lime and ginger beer.
 

Blackberry Mule at Toulouse Café and Bar, photo by Sarah Jacober

The Moscow Mule is enjoying a resurgence. The traditional vodka-lime-ginger beer drink—and inspired variations—are popping up on cocktail menus across North America.

Craft distillers, breweries and cocktail bars are making their own piquant ginger beers or ginger syrups and looking for ways to mix them into drinks.

“Spicy is a big thing for today’s palate,” says Matthew Hendriks, master distiller at Park Distillery in Banff, Alta., which makes a dry-style ginger beer that’s mixed with Park Vodka in the restaurant’s take on the Moscow Mule.

It was Jack Morgan, owner of the now-shuttered Cock ’n’ Bull bar in Hollywood, who first combined his own ginger beer with vodka in 1941. His friend John Martin had recently acquired Smirnoff, and was happy to supply the vodka. Teaming up with the daughter of a Russian factory owner desperate to sell a stockpile of copper mugs, they hatched a plan to create a new cocktail. The classic mule was born.

Now, a new generation is rediscovering the spicy classic, or something like it, with ginger being the common denominator.

“It’s a super-refreshing and balanced vodka cocktail,” says Hendriks, who calls his version FiFi’s Mule, after a local mountain. “You’re getting sweet, sour, bitter, spicy; it’s all there.”

Here are three places where bartenders are putting a creative twist on the Moscow Mule.

The Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Nashville 

Drink: Moni and the Mule

This drink takes the traditional mule to exotic new heights with its Moni incarnation. It’s an Indian twist on the vodka classic that adds cayenne, fresh mint and house-made ginger simple syrup, subbing in the more herbaceous gin and topping the drink with tamarind soda, a sweet-and-sour Indian staple. 

Toulouse Café and Bar in Dallas, Houston and Austin

Drink: Blackberry Mule

At this French-style Texas bistro, beverage director John Michael O’Shea serves a version of the Moscow Mule that’s a crowd-pleaser. To its classic ingredients, he adds juicy blackberry liqueur, which is the perfect foil to bubbly Fever-Tree ginger beer, a spicy mixer. The refreshing cocktail beats the Texas heat any time of year. 

Workshop Kitchen + Bar, Palm Springs

Drink: El Diablo

Bar managers Dave Castillo and Michelle Bearden make their own pungent ginger beer and infuse tequila with serrano chilies for a fiery take on the classic. The duo also adds mezcal for a splash of smoke befitting this devil of a drink. The end result is a tequila mule that’s sweet, sour, spicy, earthy and dangerously easy to drink. 

Recipe: Original Moscow Mule

2 oz. vodka  

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

Ginger beer (about 4 oz.)

Glass: copper mug

Garnish: lime wheel

Method: Build in a copper mug filled with ice. Top with ginger beer.

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