The Best (and Worst) Moscow Mule Ingredients
Ginger beer. Vodka. Lime juice. Ice. Copper mug. Serve and drink!
Making a Moscow Mule seems pretty simple. With just three main ingredients and a rustic presentation, the Moscow Mule is a favorite of bartenders and house party hosts—not to mention drinkers—the world over. But when you start to closely consider each of the key Moscow Mule ingredients, this deceptively straightforward drink turns out to be anything but.
Don’t get us wrong: just throwing together any old lime, vodka, or ginger beer you have on hand will make for a tasty treat, but it’s only when you select the very best ingredients that the true power of the Moscow Mule—the complexities and harmonies of its flavors—is fully released on your unsuspecting taste buds.
Still don’t believe that changing one ingredient can make all the difference between an ok cocktail and a delicious, refreshing beverage? Or, if you’re just overwhelmed by all of the choices available, don’t stress. We’ve done all the footwork for you. Enjoy our ingredient guide to crafting the perfect Moscow Mule.
Moscow Mule Ingredients: What Makes the Tastiest Moscow Mule?
1. Ginger Beer
That sharp, slightly spicy ginger kick is what really makes the Moscow Mule a unique cocktail. It’s bubbly texture and bold taste is the basis for the whole concoction, and arguably, the most important ingredient. But which ginger beer you should add to your Moscow Mule is partially based on personal preference. From sweet to spicy, African ginger to Jamaican root, artificial sweeteners to real cane sugar, ginger beer tastes vary widely. So, this is where some experimentation on your part will be key to making the best Moscow Mule for you. What better weekend assignment to have? Here’s a list of the 5 best ginger beers to try and the 5 brews you should definitely avoid.
The Best Ginger Beers
- Gosling’s Ginger Beer—This sweet, cheap, and popular option comes in both diet and regular versions.
- Q Ginger Beer—With a very bold standalone taste flavored with coriander and cardamom, this zesty choice won’t be drowned out by adding vodka.
- Fever Tree Ginger Beer—Gingers from all over West Africa combine to make Fever Tree’s delicious ginger bite without the artificial aftertaste.
- The Ginger People Ginger Beer—Brewed from Peruvian ginger juice, this pick from the Ginger People really lives up to its company’s name.
- Hollows & Fentimans Ginger Beer—This alcoholic ginger beer is botanically brewed from Chinese ginger root and is sure to add a bit more buzz to your night.
The Worst Ginger Beers
- Stoli Ginger Beer—Possibly the most expensive option on the list, this ginger beer has only the slightest hints of ginger amid a saccharine base.
- Buderim Ginger Brew—While some drinkers might like Buderim’s extra vanilla taste, others might find it distracting.
- AJ Stephans Jamaican Style Ginger Beer—A very, very spicy and very, very sweet ginger beer without much subtlety.
- Cock ‘n’ Bull Ginger Beer—The ginger in this option is quickly overpowered by the overpowering aftertaste of sugar.
- Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer—Although Crabbie’s might be good for drinkers who want less heat, the ginger doesn’t really stand up to the vodka of the Moscow Mule.
The most versatile and smoothest of alcohols, vodka is really just the vehicle that delivers the spicy ginger beer taste. You’ll know you’re using the wrong vodka (or used too much) if you can actually taste it. Much of the time, vodka is chosen based on which bottle has the lowest price tag, although others might prefer organic vodkas, premium vodkas, or locally made brands. To make some of best-tasting cocktails, try adding:
- Ketel One
- Grey Goose
And do your best to avoid:
3. Lime Juice
Ah, the lime. What cocktail is complete without a little extra citrus freshness added to the mix? The lime is really what completes the Moscow Mule package—making it an adult classic rather than just a vodka and ginger beer mix in a red plastic cup that you serve your friends in your parents’ basement. Although you can use either lime juice freshly squeezed from a just-picked lime or pre-squeezed lime juice that comes in a bottle, go fresh for better flavor.
4. The Rest
With Moscow Mules, presentation is everything. Be sure to garnish with a sprig of fresh mint or a wedge of lime. And always, always serve your Moscow Mules in a cooling, classic, copper mug.
Extra Credit: Add These Ingredients for a Moscow Mule with a Twist
Since this trendy, but sophisticated cocktail made a comeback in bars and homes across America, variations on the classic combination have become almost as popular as the drink itself. These modern twists on the Moscow Mule transform this versatile cocktail into an all-weather treat. Here are some of our favorite Moscow Mule recipes:
- Mezcal Mule—This variation is simple—just exchange the vodka for tequila for a Latin twist.
- Kentucky Mule—An extra-American take on the Mule, the Kentucky Mule swaps out the vodka for Kentucky bourbon.
- Blueberry Moscow Mule—Adding fruit to the Moscow Mule (or any cocktail, really) is almost always a great idea—it ups the freshness factor and adds a summery touch to this already-refreshing cocktail. You can add a blueberry syrup made from blueberries, water, and sugar, or just stir in whole blueberries.
- Fruity Mules—Other fruit-inspired mules can be crafted by using flavored vodkas from Pearl or Smirnoff or mixing in juicy fruits like raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, oranges, watermelon, or peaches for warm weather variations or pomegranate, cranberry juice, or apple cider for the holiday season.
- Lemon Moscow Mule—Although some might call this blasphemy, some people simply prefer the taste of lemon to lime! Lemon juice can also be substituted when other ingredients like berries call for a mixer that errs on the mild side.
Whether you stick with the classic Moscow Mule or whip up a unique favorite, be sure to use only the best of the best Moscow Mule ingredients for a truly delicious experience.