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The Kentucky mule opts for bourbon in this spin on the classic Moscow mule! It’s bubbly, bright and bold, with a spicy whiskey finish.

Kentucky mule
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One of the arguably most fun ways to drink bourbon? As a mule! Swap vodka for bourbon in a Moscow mule and you’ve got the Kentucky mule! It’s bubbly, bright and bold: with zingy lime and a spicy whiskey finish. Even better: it’s so easy to make! There’s no shaking or stirring required: just pour it all into the glass. It’s easy for parties: or a summer evening on the porch. The mule has had a major comeback lately: but it’s a classic cocktail that’s solidified it’s place in cocktail history.

Love mules? Try more mule variations like this Mexican Mule, Irish Mule, Mezcal Mule, Gin Gin Mule Cider Mule, or Watermelon Mule.

What’s a Kentucky mule?

The Kentucky mule is a bourbon-based spin on the Moscow mule, a classic cocktail from the 1940’s. Apparently it was invented as a ploy to sell more vodka, ginger beer and copper mugs! (Here’s more on that.) Whatever the case, this bubbly drink in its special cup caught on like wildfire. The mule is part of a family of cocktails called bucks, cocktails that are made with ginger ale or ginger beer, citrus juice, and liquor. So a Moscow mule is a vodka buck, and a Kentucky mule is a bourbon buck!

The Moscow mule is such a classic that it made the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, meaning that it has an “official” definition. Swap in bourbon for vodka to get the Kentucky version! The ingredients in a Kentucky mule are:

  • Bourbon whiskey
  • Lime juice
  • Ginger beer
Kentucky mule

How to make a Kentucky mule

There’s really no mixology technique involved in making a Kentucky mule: all you do is dump the ingredients into the glass! This makes it one of the easiest cocktails you can make. The only prep involved is juicing the lime. Because you want to preserve the carbonation of the ginger beer, you don’t even need to stir.

  1. Pour the bourbon, lime juice, and ginger beer into a copper mug or serving glass of your choice.
  2. Add ice and garnish with lime. Done!

Want more with ginger beer? Try Top Ginger Beer Cocktails.

The bourbon to use

The Kentucky mule is a well balanced drink: the ginger beer and lime are equally as strong as the bourbon whiskey. For the mule, choosing a high quality bourbon is not quite as important as it would be in a whiskey-forward drink like the Old Fashioned, Mint Julep or Whiskey Highball. You won’t be able to taste the nuance of the alcohol quite as much.

However, our rule of thumb is always: buy good liquor to make a good drink! Opt for a bourbon that is mid-priced: that’s typically a general indicator of quality. The bourbon we used was Bulleit Bourbon. We also like to use locally distilled spirits when we can find them.

Kentucky mule

Why to serve a mule in a copper mug

Of course, you can serve a Kentucky mule in whatever glass you like! But if you want to go super classic, we recommend a sold copper mug. Why?

  • The mug turns ice cold, which gives a cool sensation on each sip. This drink tastes even colder when you drink it out of the solid copper mug, which takes on the temperature of the drink. It adds another sensory element to the drinking experience!
  • Tradition! When you’re drinking a classic cocktail, it’s fun to drink it the classic way. Back in the 1940’s when the drink was invented, the public saw images of Hollywood celebs enjoying the drink in copper mugs. It caught on and became the classic way to drink it to this day.

Where to find copper mule mugs

There are lots of mugs that look like copper out there: but only solid copper gets cold when you add a mule. Solid copper mule mugs are a fun splurge and they make great gifts too (like wedding gifts for couples who love cocktails). The mugs we have aren’t in stock, but here’s a link to some similar copper Mule mugs on Amazon.

Kentucky mule

More highball cocktails!

A mule is in the highball cocktail family: mixed drinks that combine alcohol with a larger percentage of non-alcoholic mixer. Outside of the Kentucky mule, here are a few more tasty ones we’d recommend:

  • Mexican Mule or Gin Mule The same idea as the Kentucky mule: but with tequila and gin, respectively!
  • Whiskey Highball Tall, bubbly, and all about the spirit! Combine your favorite whiskey with either soda water or ginger ale.
  • Vodka Tonic One of the easiest mixed drinks of all time! This two-ingredient cocktail is bubbly, citrusy, and refreshing.
  • Ranch Water (aka tequila highball) Ranch water is a Texas-style tequila highball drink made with lime, tequila and Topo Chico.
  • Gin and Tonic Here are the keys to making this classic two-ingredient cocktail…the best way.

When to serve a Kentucky mule

The Kentucky mule is bold, bubbly and refreshing. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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Kentucky mule

Classic Kentucky Mule

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The Kentucky mule opts for bourbon in this spin on the classic Moscow mule! It’s bubbly, bright and bold, with a spicy whiskey finish.


  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) bourbon whiskey
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) ginger beer
  • For serving: ice, lime wedge, fresh mint


  1. In a copper mug or glass, pour in the bourbon, lime juice, and ginger beer.
  2. Add ice and garnish with a lime wedge and fresh mint. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Poured
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

More bourbon drinks

Are you a bourbon fan? Here are a few more of the top bourbon cocktails to have in your arsenal:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Timothy says:

    Love the Kentucky mule. I’ve used Bulleit Rye before, and it’s wonderful.