Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Kentucky Mule

Kentucky Mule served in a copper mug and topped with a mint sprig garnish, served on a straw mat / Tim Nusog

Though it's popularity has waxed and waned over time, the Moscow Mule remains one of the most popular cocktails in the United States. First created in Los Angeles in the 1940s (despite its namesake), the refreshing, effervescent combination of vodka, lime and ginger beer is a member of a broader family of cocktails called bucks—drinks that include ginger beer and citrus—which date to the late 1800s. The Moscow Mule is one of the best known cocktails of this kind, but the "mule" terminology itself has since extended to a wider array of drinks.

The Kentucky Mule substitutes bourbon for vodka, hence the “Kentucky” moniker. The weightier profile of bourbon cuts through the ginger more noticably than vodka, resulting in a more flavorful drink than the original. For the best results, use a high-quality ginger beer with a spicier flavor profile that can better stand up to the whiskey. Or, if you’d like to experiment, you can try your hand at making your own ginger syrup. In that case, use club soda as your bubbly topper.

The Kentucky Mule is exceedingly easy to make. Simply combine your ingredients with plenty of ice in a copper mug, if you have one. Otherwise, a highball glass will do. Garnish with mint, and you have an whiskey-based twist on the classic that you’ll want to drink all year long.


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  • 2 ounces bourbon

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • Ginger beer, to top

  • Garnish: mint sprig


  1. Add the bourbon and lime juice to a copper mug or a highball glass.

  2. Fill the mug or glass with ice and top with ginger beer.

  3. Garnish with a mint sprig.

What's the Difference Between a Buck and a Mule?

Both a buck and a mule denote drinks that follow the classic highball template, but specifically call for ginger beer or ginger ale, along with a squeeze of citrus. One of the earlier and most popular examples of a buck is the Dark 'n Stormy, but the term covers a range of cocktails that include these ingredients.

The mule is one of the cocktails that falls under the buck umbrella. It originally only described its namesake Moscow Mule, but the runaway popularity of the cocktail has caused "mule" to supplant "buck" as the more common modifier in recent times. It could be argued, however, that a buck can mean a highball that uses ginger beer and any citrus, while a mule specifically calls for lime.