Refreshing Bourbon Cocktail: Classic Kentucky Mule


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Blogger Stephanie Ziajka shows how to make a kentucky mule on Diary of a Debutante

I think I’m the only person I know who feels this way, but I cringe at the thought of vodka. Not to be dramatic, but it tastes like poison, and I can’t stand the stuff. So, I was excited to find a recipe for a Kentucky Mule, which substitutes bourbon for vodka, in one of my cocktail books. Kyle and I tried it out, and y’all– it’s amazing! Fresh mint leaves give it a sweet little Kentucky Derby-inspired kick, and then the lime juice and ginger beer set it far apart from a mint julep. Anyway, it’s become of my favorite spring cocktails, and since the Kentucky Derby is right around the corner, I wanted to share the recipe with y’all in today’s post. Keep reading for my go-to Kentucky Mule recipe!

Kentucky Mule Cocktail

Kentucky Mule drink recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

Ingredients

One of my favorite things about this Kentucky Mule recipe is that it’s as simple as it gets. Here’s everything you need to make one Kentucky Mule–

  • 2 oz bourbon– Woodford Reserve is my go-to, but any bourbon will work just fine. 
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh lime juice– Or the juice from one medium-sized lime.
  • 4-5 leaves fresh mint– We grow our own, and I swear it’s so much more flavorful!
  • 3-4 oz ginger beer– Reed’s, Zevia, and Q Mixers are my favorites. Reed’s and Zevia contain zero sugar and zero calories, too!
  • Ice– Lots of people default to crushed ice, but I prefer nugget or gourmet ice. It doesn’t water down the mule as quickly. My mom got us this compact little ice maker, which makes the best gourmet ice, as a wedding gift, and it comes in clutch for cocktail mixing!

Reed's craft ginger beer featured on Diary of a Debutante

Substitutions

Because the ingredients are so simple, there aren’t many changes you can make without altering the taste. Still, it’s more than possible to turn this into a yummy mocktail! That being said, here are a few possible substitutions–

  • Peach nectar and apple cider vinegar– If you want to make your Kentucky Mule non-alcoholic, you can swap out the bourbon for peach nectar mixed with apple cider vinegar. Just combine 3 parts peach nectar to 1 part apple cider vinegar. You can also just leave the bourbon component out altogether and go heavier on the ginger beer. I personally prefer the former, but either way works! ⁠
  • Store-bought lime juice– If you don’t have fresh limes, store-bought lime juice is a great alternative! It doesn’t taste quite as refreshing (at least not to me), but it’s so convenient to have on hand. 
  • Light ginger beer– Light ginger beer is an easy way to lower the calorie count. A lot of people don’t like the taste, but I can’t tell the difference. Zevia and Reed’s make my personal favorites. They’re both naturally sweetened and have 0 calories. 
  • Mint simple syrup– This isn’t so much a substitution as it is an addition. If you want an extra dose of mint flavor, add in 1/4 oz of mint simple syrup. I make my own, and it’s great in lots of other spring and summer cocktails, like mojitos and juleps.

Kentucky Mule Recipe

Kentucky Mule recipe from blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

To make a Kentucky Mule, combine the mint leaves, bourbon, lime juice, and about 1/2 cup of ice in a cocktail mixer. Shake well.

Then, pour the mixture into a cocktail glass (I love using these copper julep cups!) and add in the ginger beer, along with some extra ice. Always go lighter on the ginger beer, since you can always add more later. Granted, you can also add more bourbon and lime juice later, too.

Finally, garnish with a fresh lime slice or two and a sprig of fresh mint. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares the best Kentucky Mule recipe on Diary of a Debutante Kentucky Derby cocktails served in copper julep cups with green and white striped paper straws by blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante Blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares one of her favorite Kentucky Derby cocktails on Diary of a Debutante

Kentucky Mule

Kentucky Mule

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

A fun twist on the popular Moscow Mule cocktail, this Kentucky Mule recipe calls for bourbon instead of vodka! Fresh mint leaves pack a sweet and refreshing punch, too, making the Kentucky Mule the perfect easy cocktail for spring and summer. Serve yours in copper julep cups instead of mugs for a festive nod to the Kentucky Derby!

Ingredients

  • 2oz bourbon
  • 1.5oz fresh lime juice
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • 3oz ginger beer
  • Ice

Instructions

    1. Combine the mint leaves, bourbon, lime juice, and about 1/2 cup of ice in a cocktail mixer. Shake well.
    2. Pour the mixture into a cocktail glass and add in the ginger beer, along with some extra ice.
    3. Garnish with a fresh lime slice or two and a sprig of fresh mint. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Notes

3 ounces of ginger beer is a good starting point, but you may want to add more or less depending on how strong you like your cocktails.

Substitutions


Peach nectar and apple cider vinegar- If you want to make your Kentucky Mule non-alcoholic, you can swap out the bourbon for peach nectar mixed with apple cider vinegar. Just combine 3 parts peach nectar to 1 part apple cider vinegar. You can also just leave the bourbon component out altogether and go heavier on the ginger beer. I personally prefer the former, but either way works! ⁠

Store-bought lime juice– If you don’t have fresh limes, store-bought lime juice is a great alternative! It doesn’t taste quite as refreshing (at least not to me), but it’s so convenient to have on hand. 

Light ginger beer– Light ginger beer is an easy way to lower the calorie count. A lot of people don’t like the taste, but I think it’s just as delicious. Zevia makes my personal favorite. It's naturally sweetened and has 0 calories. 

Mint simple syrup– This isn’t so much a substitution as it is an addition. If you want an extra dose of mint flavor, add in 1/4 oz of mint simple syrup. I make my own, and it’s great in lots of other spring and summer cocktails, like mojitos and juleps.

Nutrition Information
Yield 1Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 178Total Fat .3gSaturated Fat .1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 20mgCarbohydrates 10.8gFiber 2.7gSugar 7.4gProtein 1.3g

Nutritional information isn't always accurate and can vary based on a number of factors, including but not limited to discrepancies among brands, precision of measurements, and freshness of ingredients.

More Kentucky Derby Cocktails to Try

If you’re still looking for more Kentucky Derby cocktails to try, here are a few of my favorites–

  • Woodford Spire– A Woodford Spire is Woodford Reserve’s official derby drink. It can be easily batched, too, which is handy for parties.
  • Frozen Mint Julep Punch– This frozen mint julep punch sneaks up on you and is always a guest favorite! Not only is it one of my all-time favorite batch cocktails, it can also be made well in advance.
  • Black-Eyed RyeA unique take on the iconic Black-Eyed Susan, the Black-Eyed Rye is a must-try Rye whiskey cocktail for blackberry lovers and Derby fans alike!

 


 
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for you today! Thanks so much for reading, y’all– and cheers!!

Also, as always, please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any problems with this Kentucky Mule recipe or any of my others. I love hearing from you guys, and I’m happy to help! 

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