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,” Nikki Drake, the bar director at 2941 Restaurant in Washington, D.C., says of the cocktail.“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 plucky, 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 among bartenders. The sodas have a pleasant balance of sweetness and spice that makes them eminently suitable for using in a Mule. But she also adds a ginger shrub (a type of drinking vinegar), which enhances the drink’s brightness and kick, balancing the chai spices’ darker notes.
Traditionally, Mules are served in a copper mug, but Drake opts for a Julep cup instead. Either form of metal cup works, really, and if you don’t have one, the drink is going to taste perfectly good in a highball or rocks glass.
- 1 1/2 ounces Murlarkey Divine Clarity vodka
- 1 ounce chai spice syrup*
- 1/4 ounce ginger shrub**
- 1/4 ounce lemon juice
- 4 ounces Fever-Tree ginger beer
- Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
Add the vodka, chai spice syrup, ginger shrub and lemon juice to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a Julep cup or copper mug over crushed ice, then top with ginger beer.
Top with more crushed ice.
Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
*Chai spice syrup: Gently crush 15 green cardamom pods using a mortar and pestle or the flat edge of chef’s knife. Place the cardamom pods on a baking sheet along with 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise pod, 5 allspice berries and 3 cloves. Toast in the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Bring 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water to a simmer in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Add the toasted spices and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then strain out the solids and discard. The syrup will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 month.
**Ginger shrub: Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 cup sugar to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add 1 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then strain out the solids. The shrub will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 months.