Kentucky Mule

The Kentucky Mule cocktail is a bourbon-forward beverage that co-stars lime and ginger beer. Together, they are a charming combo that brightens the complex flavors of Kentucky whiskey.

kentucky mule next to a decanter of whiskey in a copper mule mug

Mule drinks are easily one of the top cocktails these days, yearround.

More and more restaurants and bars are carrying those fancy copper mule mugs for this popular drink, and less and less often do I hear, “Ooh, that’s a fancy mug! What’s in that?” when it arrives at the table.

The mule has without a doubt been making a comeback over the last few years.

And for good reason — it’s an incredibly versatile cocktail.

kentucky mule in a copper mule mug with limes and ginger beer

What is a Moscow mule?

A Moscow mule is made with vodka, lime juice and ginger beer, and it’s often served in a copper mule mug with crushed ice.

It’s a well-balanced drink, with a smooth spirit, a hint of sour lime and the sweet but spicy kick of ginger beer.

What is a Kentucky mule?

The Kentucky mule is the Moscow mule’s cousin, served with real Kentucky bourbon instead of vodka.

Yep, a bourbon mule is what we’re making today, and you’re going to love it.

The oaky, smooth, caramel flavors of bourbon pair beautifully with the tartness of lime and spice of ginger beer.

This cocktail is a great way to celebrate the Kentucky Derby if a mint julep isn’t your thing. The restaurants in Louisville probably serve almost as many of these as they do juleps!

two kentucky moscow mules with limes and a citrus reamer

How to make a Kentucky Mule cocktail

The Kentucky mule is incredibly easy — you don’t even need a cocktail shaker.

Start by adding ice. Crushed ice is my favorite way, but feel free to use cubes. Fill the ice all the way to the top.

Next, juice your lime right into your glass. I use a hand-squeezer like this one. Drop the shell in for a little zesty flavor that will increase as you sip.

kentucky mule in a copper mule mug with a citrus reamer

Then add your bourbon. Here’s my guide to choosing a bourbon if you need help deciding what to get. (My bar right now has Maker’s Mark, Angel’s Envy and Old Forrester — all of them are fabulous in a Kentucky mule.)

Lastly, top with ginger beer and garnish with a wedge of lime. And there you go!

And now I’m going to say something controversial: You don’t need a mule mug to make a Kentucky mule.

kentucky mule in a copper mule mug with a muddler

Why does a Moscow Mule have to be in a copper cup?

Truthfully, a mule doesn’t have to be served in a copper mug. Not by a long shot.

Copper mule mugs are definitely the signature glassware for a mule drink and they help to keep the drink ultra cold, but they’re not necessary.

If you don’t have one and only have a regular glass, don’t worry about a thing! You do you.

kentucky mule in a copper mule mug

Types of Moscow Mules

Mules have become a cocktail category all their own, because you can switch out the vodka to make entirely new cocktails.

The vodka-based Moscow mule is the most common, but its cousins are utterly delicious.

  • Kentucky Mule (with bourbon whiskey)
  • Irish Mule (with Irish whiskey)
  • Japanese Mule (with Japanese whiskey)
  • Gin-Gin Mule (with gin)
  • Mexican Mule or Mayan Mule (with mezcal or tequila)
  • Moscow Mule (with vodka)
  • Dark & Stormy (with rum)
  • Australian Mule (with Gosling’s rum and Australian ginger beer)
  • Scottish Mule (with scotch)
  • Champagne Mule (with vodka, champagne and half the ginger beer)
kentucky mule in a copper mule mug with limes

Moscow Mule cocktail variations

You can also hack your cocktail recipe by changing out the citrus or even incorporating other fruits and juices like grapefruit, kumquats and pears. Even lemon will work if you don’t have lime juice!

My Yule Mule, which uses vodka and cranberry juice, and my Apple Cider Mule are both popular at the holidays.

Though the Kentucky Derby has been postponed for this year, I still hope you put on your fanciest hat and enjoy a Kentucky Mule in its honor.

It’s a delicious one for sure! // susannah

kentucky mule in a copper mule mug with a citrus reamer

Kentucky Mule Cocktail

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

A variation on the Moscow Mule, this bright bourbon cocktail is made with Kentucky's finest, ginger beer and lime.


  • crushed ice
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) lime juice
  • 3-4 ounces ginger beer
  • lime wheel or lime wedge for garnish


    Fill a copper mule mug with crushed ice. Top with bourbon whiskey, lime juice and ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 237Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 4gSugar: 19gProtein: 1g

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  1. Elsie S. Stewart says

    I tried this recipe and it’s really good. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try the recipe.

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