Kentucky Mule

A spin on the traditional Moscow Mule, the Kentucky Mule uses bourbon instead of vodka. The bourbon cuts through the ginger beer much more strongly than the vodka and gives a honey flavor to the drink. For best results, use a spiced bourbon that will compliment the ginger beer.

A Kentucky mule is a great spin on a classic cocktail.
A Kentucky mule is a great spin on a classic cocktail.

This drink is perfect for the holidays, especially with a high-quality spiced bourbon. Refreshing and easy to make, this drink is delicious to enjoy next to the fireplace.

Looking for other holiday drinks you might like? Try the Long Beach iced tea or a homemade hot chocolate.


The ingredients for a Kentucky mule are quite straightforward and not that much different than a Moscow mule. See below for what you will need.

  • Bourbon: It’s best to use a high quality spiced bourbon for this recipe. A spiced bourbon will add a honey quality to the mule. If. you don’t enjoy spiced alcohol, you can use regular bourbon.
  • Lime: Freshly-squeezed lime adds brightness to the drink. Use at least half of a lime for lime juice but you can add more if you just can’t resist!
  • Ginger beer: A staple ingredient for mules. It’s very similar to ginger ale, but is more ginger-y and also had no alcohol in it, despite the “beer” term in the title.
  • Garnishes: Add a slice of lime or mint leaves as a garnish for this drink. It’s not necessary, but it does add a nice touch.

Making the Mule

Prepare for making your mule by preparing your glass and ingredients.

Grab a copper mug if you happen to have one and fill to the top with ice. In my opinion, the quality of your ice matters. It’s best to use a high-quality ice that you buy from the grocery store than use the ice from your freezer. Using the ice from your freezer is fine in a pinch but it might make your drink taste like your freezer.

Fill a copper mug with ice for your Kentucky Mule.
Fill a copper mug with ice for your Kentucky Mule.

Slice the lime in half and use half for fresh lime juice and slice the other half into garnishes.

Once you have your glass filled with ice, fill it with your ingredients. Start with the bourbon and then add in the freshly-squeezed lime juice and then fill with ginger beer. Use a straw or a spoon to stir the ingredients together.

Why do Mules Use Copper Mugs?

I’ve heard many reasons and theories over the years for why mules are served in copper mugs. Some of those theories involve the ginger reacting with the copper and lime, giving you a unique experience.

The real reason mules are served in copper mugs is because the copper will keep your drink colder longer. Copper is an excellent thermal conductor, and it will keep the contents of your drink warm or cold, depending on the beverage. Most copper mugs are lined with steel, tin or nickel to decrease the likelihood of copper leaching into the drink. While this makes for a safer drink, these lined mugs will keep your mule less cold simply because there is less copper.

Another reason copper mugs are the traditional vessel for mules is because that’s the way it’s always been. A Moscow Mule was first served in a copper mug in 1941 in a Los Angelos bar by a bartender named Jack Morgan. The Moscow Mule cocktail was also allegedly created by Morgan and his girlfriend and after they began serving their newly created concoction in copper mugs, many other bars followed suit.

When to Serve a Kentucky Mule

There is really no bad time for a Kentucky mule, and it goes equally well in the summer as it does in the winter. No matter the month, it’s preparation is still the same- over ice in a copper cup with lime.

If you decide to make this beverage with a spiced bourbon, this drink will be very suitable for holiday time. There are few things better than curling up fireside with a spiced drink. Even though you generally think of warm apple cider and the holidays, this drink is an unexpected cocktail to serve to guests or your partner on Christmas Eve.

Limes are also most ripe in the winter, which will make this drink even more suitable for the stormy winter months. Stock up on fresh limes and ginger beer to make a variety of different kinds of mules and let me know what you think is the best one! There is also the lesser known London mule and the popular Moscow mule.

Kentucky Mule

0.0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Sarah
Course: DrinksCuisine: American, SouthernDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 2 oz bourbon

  • 1 oz lime juice

  • 6 oz ginger beer

  • lime wedge, for garnish


  • Fill a copper glass with ice. Add in the bourbon, juice and then top with ginger beer. Stir to combine. Garnish with lime.
  • Serve.

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