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.

A moscow mule cocktail in a copper mug garnished with a lime wedge and fresh mint leaves.

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Kentucky Mule Recipe

Mule drinks are easily one of the top cocktails these days. They’re the best refreshing cocktail that can be enjoyed year-round.

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. There’s so many fun flavors that people have created as a twist on this classic cocktail.

The Kentucky mule may just be one of my favorite mule variations. With the tangy taste of lime juice, bubbly texture of ginger soda, and smooth flavor of bourbon it’s just the best summer cocktail. With the touch of mint, it’s a bit like a mint julep!

So whether you’re headed to the Kentucky Derby and want a classic cocktail, or you just want a refreshing drink on a hot day, this is the perfect recipe!

More mule recipe: Blueberry MuleCzech MuleMezcal Mule

Why you’ll love this recipe

I think this is a favorite of mine because it’s one of the easiest cocktails! Just mix up the ingredients and sip:

  • This cocktail is so easy to make. You don’t need any fancy tools or complicated ingredients — it’s straightforward and simple!
  • Serving this drink in a copper mule with a lime wedge and it’s the prettiest presentation. A wonderful drink to serve if you want something that is visually appealing.
  • If you’re not a fan of sweet drinks but you don’t like to drink strong liquor straight up, then you’ll love this cocktail! It’s not syrupy sweet but it also has a wonderfully complex flavor.
A moscow mule cocktail with lime and mint in a copper mug.

What is a Kentucky mule?

The Kentucky mule is the classic 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!

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.

Copper mug filled with icy beverage garnished with lime and fresh mint leaves.

Tools & glassware 

The best part about a mule is that you only need basic tools to make it. Grab some pretty copper mugs, a citrus juice, a jigger and a spoon if you need to stir your ingredients together a bit.

That’s really it! It’s such a simple cocktail recipe with incredible flavor.

Ingredients

With just a few basic ingredients you can make a bright, crisp, and refreshing cocktail. Here’s what you need to make this fun twist on a classic Moscow mule recipe:

  • bourbon: Not sure what’s the best bourbon to use? 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.
  • fresh lime juice: I highly recommend using fresh squeezed lime juice. The bottled stuff will work in a pinch, but I can totally tell a difference when I use fresh lime juice. The flavor is more bold and much more fresh!
  • ginger beer: If you can’t find ginger beer, ginger ale is a great substitution! You really just need that strong ginger flavor and the crisp bubbles. It’s the perfect addition to the other ingredients in this bourbon mule recipe.
  • lime wedge: Use a fresh lime wedges or lime wheel as a garnish.
  • fresh mint sprig: Fresh mint leaves are the perfect finishing touch as a garnish!
A moscow mule cocktail in a copper mug garnished with fresh mint and a lime wedge.

How to make a Kentucky Mule cocktail

The Kentucky mule is incredibly easy — you don’t even need a cocktail shaker. Follow these step-by-step instructions to make this mixed drink in just minutes:

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

Hand squeezing a lime with a yellow juicer into a copper cup.
Pouring a liquid into a copper mug.

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.

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Pouring a beverage into a copper mug.
A hand garnishing a frothy beverage in a copper mug with a lime wedge.

Then add your bourbon. Lastly, top with ginger beer and garnish with a wedge of lime and a sprig of fresh mint. And there you go! Enjoy!

Tips & tricks

Check out these basic tips to ensure success with this fun recipe:

  • To keep your drink extra cold, make sure that you refrigerate your ginger beer before adding it to the Kentucky mule.
  • For the best flavor, choose a high-quality bourbon. It really will elevate this easy cocktail.
  • Serve your Kentucky mule immediately after you make and use plenty of ice. This is especially important on a hot day if you want to keep the cocktail from getting watered down.

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. This Oaxacan mule is super similar to a Kentucky mule; it uses mezcal or tequila instead of whiskey.

There’s tons of tasty mule recipe to choose from!

Copper mug filled with ice, garnished with lime and mint, likely containing a moscow mule cocktail.

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.

  • Moscow Mule (with vodka)
  • Kentucky Mule (with bourbon whiskey)
  • Irish Mule (with Irish whiskey)
  • Japanese Mule (with Japanese whiskey)
  • Scottish Mule (with scotch whiskey)
  • Gin-Gin Mule (with gin)
  • Mexican Mule or Mayan Mule (with mezcal or tequila)
  • Dark & Stormy (with rum)
  • Australian Mule (with Gosling’s rum and Australian ginger beer like Bundaberg)
  • Champagne Mule (with vodka, ginger liqueur and champagne)

FAQ

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.

What goes well with ginger beer?

The citrus flavor of lime juice goes really well with ginger beer! As for liquor, you can really use whatever you want. From bourbon to tequila, there are tons of tasty options.

A copper mug filled with ice and garnished with fresh mint leaves.

More bourbon recipes

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A moscow mule cocktail in a copper mug garnished with a lime wedge and fresh mint leaves.

Kentucky Mule Cocktail

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 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.
5 from 53 votes
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ingredients

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3-4 ounces ginger beer
  • lime wheel or lime wedge for garnish
  • fresh mint sprigs for garnish

instructions

  • 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 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 6ounces Calories: 167kcal Carbohydrates: 10g Protein: 0.1g Fat: 0.02g Sodium: 7mg Potassium: 34mg Fiber: 0.3g Sugar: 8g Vitamin A: 14IU Vitamin C: 8mg Calcium: 8mg Iron: 0.2mg
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Comments

  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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