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To give you some insight, a Moscow mule is a cocktail made with vodka, a fiery ginger beer, and lime juice, and is served in a copper mug filled with crushed ice or ice cubes. It is a fizzy and refreshing drink that’s ideal to have on a hot day and also great for celebrations. It has the right balance of spice from the ginger and toughness from the vodka and just a hint of sourness from the lime juice.
Now, you might wonder why it is named like that. Why would the Russian capital and the horse-like creature be put together in a single name of a drink? It would sound quite irrelevant since it has no Russian roots whatsoever.
This drink actually came from America and was invented in the 1940s. The story is quite unclear but it goes something like this: there were three people involved that each represented three components of the drink. John Martin who purchased Smirnoff, had trouble in making sales because people back then were preoccupied with whiskey and beer and they had no idea what vodka was. He got in touch with a friend named Jack Morgan in a pub called Cock ‘n Bull owned by the latter who also happened to be incapable of selling his ginger beer.
There was also another person who had a similar problem with his copper mugs. So, from there, they combined the vodka, ginger beer, added some lime juice, served them in the copper mugs, and voila! The Moscow mule was born and it was very well-received, earning its popularity. Now, to the name, there isn’t really much credibility to this explanation but it’s said that the “Moscow” is derived from the vodka which originated in Russia and then the “mule” is said to be from the ginger beer that gives the “kick” to the drink.
This drink is so iconic that one has to be smart in choosing the right brands of ingredients to create the perfect Moscow mule. One of its main components is the vodka and it played the most important in creating this drink since it was a win-win situation for both vodka, specifically Smirnoff and the drink itself, Moscow mule.
We’ll help you walk through the best vodkas that you can use the next time you decide to treat yourself with a Moscow mule. And you’d be surprised to know that there are other alcoholic beverages that also make a great mule. Keep reading to find out what they are!
Different Drink Types That Go With Moscow Mule
We know that one of the main components of a Moscow Mule is vodka. But, did you know that there are other drinks or beverages that also make a good mule? Of course, a slight alteration wouldn’t make them a “Moscow” Mule anymore but they’re still mules and are rather good.
Bourbon is an American whiskey. Because it has a different flavor profile, it provides a new perspective on the drink. This also arose due to the growing prominence of the drink and people thought of swapping the vodka with a liquor that’s famous in their own region. Kentucky Mule is made with bourbon.
Black rum takes a longer aging process in a charred wooden barrel, giving the rum a smoky flavor and a different character to the Moscow Mule. Dark N Stormy is an example of a Moscow Mule made with black rum.
All those gin lovers out there, you can enjoy this awesome twist on a classic. Gin is known to have a bitter and biting taste and to add that with the ginger beer and lime gives a really contrasting flavor that is surprisingly splendid. Gin Gin Mule is a good combination of gin and ginger beer.
When you hear Mexico or Mexican, does “tequila” pop in your head? Mexican Mule is made with tequila. It is great for serving at your next party so your friends and family can enjoy this amazing drink with your alcohol.
You might think that this is an unusual name for a cocktail but it is actually a person’s name. Mamie Taylor was an opera singer in the 1900s who requested this drink and then was made by a Rochester, New York bartender. It is made with scotch which adds a satisfying smoky taste from the malt that goes well with the flavor of the ginger. It’s not a direct variation of a mule but it definitely shares some similarities. The Scottish Mule is made with scotch whiskey.
Texas Mule is quite similar to the Kentucky mule because it is also made with whiskey and the fact that both Kentucky and Tennessee are in the South. It is commonly made with Jack Daniel’s.
Of course, the Irish also boast their whiskey, making this Irish version of the mule. Irish whiskey is said to be light, fruity, and smoother than American whiskeys so it also has a contributory factor in making the mule great.
This one is made with absinthe, which is an anise-flavored spirit made from flowers and herbs. It has the flavor of black licorice with a bit of herbal aroma which complements the taste of ginger beer. Altogether, the Bohemian mule tastes like a delightful minty and refreshing drink.
In the world of food and drink, the French will always be a contender. Have a go at Paris Mule, the French version of the mule made with cognac, a very classic and famous French brandy.
Caribbean Mule is made with gold rum and is slightly related to the Dark ‘n Stormy. It comes with a sweet and flavorful taste and toasted oak aroma that blends well with the ginger beer and lime.
The Brazilian mule is made with cachaca, a spirit made from fermented sugarcane. One brand of the cachaca is Veev. Cachaca is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil. It is usually drunk as a base for cocktails but it can be drunk on its own since it is sweet.
If you want to know what Jamaican rum tastes like, sure, you can drink it straight, or make this wonderful concoction of Jamaican mule. Jamaican rum is made with molasses and people still find difficulty in describing its taste, but it has notes of banana, caramel, coconut, and vanilla but we’ll leave you to your judgment once you taste it.
Top 5 Vodkas for your Moscow Mule
To make things easier for you, we’ve laid out the top 5 best vodkas that you can use when making Moscow Mules. These are properly chosen due to several factors such as quality, price, and availability. Here they are:
Smirnoff is basically where the drink Moscow Mule started and it is considered as the original vodka to be used in this drink. For this reason, it will not be included in the top 5 anymore since it already owns the Moscow Mule. There are Smirnoff flavored vodkas but the one that’s mostly used is the classic N. 21. It is usually 80 proof with 40% alcohol content. Its flavor is more on the strong side that lingers, making you taste the vodka in the Mule without overpowering the other components.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Most people highly recommend and use Tito’s Vodka as their go-to whenever they make a Moscow Mule. It is made in Austin Texas and it is certified gluten-free. It is one of the best-selling vodkas in the world and is known for its philanthropic work. Being a versatile vodka it also goes well with many cocktails because of its smooth texture with a hint of sweetness and tanginess to it and finished off with a bitter aftertaste. Tito’s is 80 proof with 40% alcohol content and it ensures to provide high quality every time for a very reasonable price, making it very convenient for cocktail lovers.
Absolut Elyx Vodka
You may have heard of Absolut vodka, but the Absolut Elyx is a whole new level. Every drop is a luxurious blend of winter wheat from Southern Sweden, crafted in a vintage copper column since 1921. It catches the attention of many because of its beautiful exterior design. Of course, the taste isn’t far off, it gives a nice, clean taste of macadamia nuts and freshly baked bread that gives the Moscow Mule a more balanced flavor. It has 42.3% alcohol content and is 84.6 proof. This super-premium vodka comes at a reasonable price given its quality and status. It’s also a match for the Moscow Mule which is typically served in a copper mug since this vodka is distilled in a manually operated copper column still.
Hangar 1 Vodka
Hangar 1 vodka is made near San Francisco in an old aircraft hangar, hence its name. Unlike other vodkas that are crafted in column stills, Hangar 1 is made in tiny Holstein pot stills, giving its unique flavor. The people behind Hangar 1 wanted to create something that is different in the hopes that they will stand out. They added it with glycerin and vanilla with a blend of grapes and wheat resulting to a slightly sweet but still robust taste and aroma. Its consistency is quite thick with a plump and round flavor with hints of floral scent. It is 80 proof with 40% ABV. If you like your Moscow Mule on the sweeter side, this is the vodka to use, and it also comes with different flavors but if you want to experience the pure vodka taste, use the Straight one.
In the vodka world of wheat, Luksusowa uses good ol' potatoes. The name itself is Polish for “luxury” so it already hints out that this is a good one. Because potatoes are used, the vodka is quite creamy and flavorsome. It undergoes a triple distillation process followed by charcoal filtration. It is slightly sweet and smooth on the mouth and gives a mild crisp bite on the tongue. You can experience a bit of minerality on the palate but when mixed, it doesn’t overpower the other components so the ginger beer and lime juice have their fair share of the spotlight as they should. It is also 80 proof with 40% alcohol content. It is an excellent pair with citrus fruits such as lemon and lime. Despite being luxurious, it comes at a surprisingly affordable price, making it an obvious and easy choice for making Moscow mules.
Prairie Organic Vodka
If you want to experience a burst of flavors when drinking vodka, the perfect choice would be Prairie Organic vodka from Minnesota, USA. Not wheat, nor potatoes, this one is made from corn but it offers so much more. It is special in a way because the yellow corn is organically grown in family farms in a GMO-free and gluten-free condition, absolutely free from harmful chemicals. Aside from the vodka taste, you will also get hints of pear and melon with a smooth and peppery finish. It is 80 proof and has 37.5% ABV in Europe and 40% ABV in the US,
Because it is a fruity and creamy vodka, it really complements the ginger beer and lime juice for the Moscow mule. Another awesome thing about Prairie Organic is that they donate 1% of their sales to the Spirit of Change Fund to support farmers who go the organic way, so they are really dedicated to bringing high-quality and healthy products.
Best Ginger Beers for Moscow Mule
A Moscow mule is not complete without ginger beer. Fair warning, there is a great number of them out there so to spare you from confusion in which one to use, check out the best ginger beers right here and together with the best vodkas and the freshest lime juice, the awesome trio will be complete. If you want to be traditional though and try a homemade ginger beer, you can absolutely do so. It is great for your health and you also get the fun experience of making it.
There you have it, folks. Now you know that picking out the right vodka is important in making a Moscow mule. Each of the vodkas listed above has different aspects and features that make them unique in their ways. But, as always, you can always go adventurous and try out other vodkas, especially those that have different flavors to expand the list of the glorious Moscow mule. As there are countless liqueurs out there, the Moscow mule also continues to branch out and create other versions. You only need your sense of adventure and your imagination.