Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Vodka Cocktails

Chai Spice Mule

A silver Julep cup rests on a black bar napkin on a wavy marble bar top. The cup is filled with crushed ice and topped with a single intact star anise.
Image: 2941 Restaurant

Inspired by the comforting flavors in chai, this vodka drink was created to pair with the roller coaster ride that is fall in Virginia—“warming, comforting, autumnal spices but also zesty ginger beer and refreshing flavors,” says Nikki Drake, the bar director at 2941 Restaurant in Washington, D.C. “You can drink it during one of the surprise fall heat waves as easily as on a chilly evening.”

The Chai Spice Mule belongs to the family of drinks that stem from the Moscow Mule, a zesty, sweet and refreshing highball made with ginger beer, vodka, and lime. This particular approach increases the depth of the highball by using chai spices, which adds an autumnal richness to it.

For ginger beer, Drake uses Fever-Tree, a popular brand of mixers amongst bartenders. The sodas have a nice balance of sweetness and spice that makes them eminently suitable for using in a Mule. However, she also adds a ginger shrub (a type of drinking vinegar), which enhances the drink’s brightness and gingery kick, balancing the chai spices’ darker notes.

Traditionally, Mules are served in a copper mug. Drake, however, opts for a Julep cup, instead. Either form of metal cup works, really, and if you don’t have either, the drink is going to taste perfectly good in a highball or rocks glass.



  1. Add all ingredients except the ginger beer into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a Julep cup or Moscow Mule mug over crushed ice, then top with ginger beer.

  3. Top with more crushed ice.

  4. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

  5. *Chai spice syrup: Gently crush 15 green cardamom pods using mortar and pestle or the flat edge of chef’s knife. Place cardamom pods on baking sheet along with 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise pod, 5 allspice berries and 3 cloves. Toast in oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Bring 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water to simmer in saucepan until sugar dissolves. Add toasted spices and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out solids, pour syrup in container and store in refrigerator up to several weeks.

  6. **Ginger shrub: Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 cup sugar to small saucepan and bring to simmer until sugar dissolves. Add 1 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Strain out solids and store shrub in refrigerator up to several months.