Kentucky Mule Bourbon Cocktail Photo

Stay Cool with a Kentucky Mule

In Cocktails by Matt EvansLeave a Comment

Now that we are enveloped in the throws of summer and barbecue season is well underway, it is time to re-open discussions about what adult drinks of choice will complement the fare coming off the grill and keep you cool on those hot, humid evenings on the back patio.

Lately, I have been finding respite from the sultry conditions in the form of the Kentucky Mule (since we are not reading the website Vodka and Banter, there is no need even to bring up a Moscow Mule). What about the Mint Julep one might ask? Even for a hardened Louisvillian, the julep is an acquired taste that tends to disappear in popularity after the Derby has been run.

Kentucky Mule Cup Close-upThe Kentucky Mule is a simple drink to concoct that can be whipped up in minutes, and most likely the ingredients are already in your bar. The key components include ice, fresh lime wedges, sprigs of mint (optional), ginger beer – not ginger ale* – and, you guessed it…bourbon. I have seen people add simple syrup to their mules but for me, that is an unnecessary added sweetness.

Another valuable component to making a choice Kentucky Mule is the vehicle from which to imbibe; this should be the copper mule mug (although a collins glass will do in a pinch). When filled with ice, the copper will intensify the cold – after all, this drink is helping to combat the heat, right?

There are many ginger beers on the market from which to choose, but I have found that Fever Tree Ginger Beer offers a lingering crispness that is very satisfying and refreshing without being too sweet. However, more important than the ginger beer is the brown water.

For my mules, I lean towards a high rye expression a′ la Bulleit or Four Roses Single Barrel – or maybe even a rye whiskey. The combination of the bold rye spice and the palate-pleasing ginger creates a one-two punch that will be sure to cool even the hottest of backyard gatherings. True, the Kentucky Mule may lack the sophistication of an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan, but when it comes to hanging out poolside, those shouldn’t be your first drinks of choice (cocktail party, yes; poolside, no). An upside to the Mule is that you do not need to be a certified mixologist to find the parts-per-whole that works for you. Let your taste buds dictate your percentages.

The Kentucky Mule in 5 easy steps


  • Squeeze the fresh lime wedge into an empty copper mule mug

    (save the lime for step 5)

  • Pour 1.5 - 2 ounces of bourbon

  • Fill mug with ice

  • Top off with ginger beer

  • Stir and garnish with the spent lime wedge and mint sprig if desired

The next time you are hanging out with family and friends (or even by yourself — no one is judging) give the Kentucky Mule a try. Odds are your will enjoy your second as much as the first. Cheers!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sr. Contributor | Bourbon & Banter

Born and raised in Newport Beach, California, Matt Evans married a native Kentuckian and has called Louisville home since 2007 – after stops in Washington D.C. and Durango, CO. His love affair with bourbon started as an attempt to learn more about his adopted hometown (and get in good with his in-laws!); the pursuit has developed into a full blown passion. Through the Stave and Thief Society, Matt is certified as an Executive Bourbon Steward. He has certifications from the Filson Historical Society’s Bourbon Academy and the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Academy. He also has served as Master Distiller for-a-day at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience under the tutelage of Artisanal Distiller Charlie Downs.Matt’s day job is instructing 7th grade World Geography, and he is the proud father of two daughters. During the summer, Matt teaches bourbon history courses at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state. Read Matt's full profile.

About the Author

Matt Evans

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Born and raised in Newport Beach, California, Matt Evans married a native Kentuckian and has called Louisville home since 2007 – after stops in Washington D.C. and Durango, CO. His love affair with bourbon started as an attempt to learn more about his adopted hometown (and get in good with his in-laws!); the pursuit has developed into a full blown passion. Through the Stave and Thief Society, Matt is certified as an Executive Bourbon Steward. He has certifications from the Filson Historical Society’s Bourbon Academy and the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Academy. He also has served as Master Distiller for-a-day at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience under the tutelage of Artisanal Distiller Charlie Downs.Matt’s day job is instructing 7th grade World Geography, and he is the proud father of two daughters. During the summer, Matt teaches bourbon history courses at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state. Read Matt's full profile.