Singing with oak and spicy ginger, the Kentucky Mule is a perfect Derby Day drink. This classic cocktail is made with simple ingredients gets a twist from bourbon. Makes 1 drink.
Loving this unique take on a Moscow Mule? Be sure to check out my Mexican Mule, Irish Mule and Gin Gin Mule!
The Year of the (Moscow) Mule rolls on, this time with a nod to the (currently delayed) Kentucky Derby: the KENTUCKY Mule.
What does this mean? Instead of using vodka, which is what we’d mix into a regular Moscow Mule, we’re using bourbon instead.
Obviously, this drink is an utter delight.
We’re also crushing our ice super finely to put in the copper mugs to make this reminiscent of a Mint Julep, which is another well-known bourbon drink poured to celebrate the Kentucky Derby’s running.
That said, you can mix and sip a Kentucky Mule any time. It’s incredibly refreshing and balanced. Plus, the combination of ginger with the oakiness of the bourbon is a delight.
More Moscow Mule recipes: Classic Moscow Mule | Raspberry Moscow Mule | Blood Orange Mocktail Mule | Strawberry Moscow Mule | Peach Moscow Mule
Looking for some more bourbon recipes? Check out my Bourbon recipe index.
What you’ll need to make a Kentucky Mule
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How to make a Kentucky Bourbon Moscow Mule
In your blender, crush your ice to a really fine texture—it should almost look like really fluffy snow. This is the kind of ice used for Mint Juleps, and we’re using it here as a nod to the famous Kentucky drink. Of course, this is optional, but I think it adds a really nice touch to the drink.
Scoop your ice into a copper mug or the cocktail glass of your choosing.
Measure out the bourbon and ginger beer with a measuring cup or a jigger. Squeeze in the lime juice, and stir with a cocktail spoon.
Serve with a sprig of mint, and enjoy immediately.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—mules are fabulous party drinks! They require few ingredients and are incredibly easy to prep. They are also simple for your guests to put together on their own if given the option.
If you’re going to host a Derby party or another gathering where you serve these festive mules, I turning a surface in your kitchen or entertaining space into a “Mule Bar.”
How do you make a mule bar? Here’s what you do…
- Set out measuring tools for your guests on the Mule Bar. If you’re feeling fancy, get out large mason jars for the bourbon and the lime juice.
- One to two hours before the party, squeeze the limes and get that lime juice ready. (You can also purchase freshly squeezed lime juice in the refrigerated section of your grocery.) If you juice the limes earlier, the juice will become more potent.
- Quarter your limes in advance, too. Keep ‘em in a food storage container in the fridge for up to a few days before your gathering.
- Place your mint in a mason jar of water. Guests can pluck their garnish from the bunch!
- Print out the ingredients and measurements, and place them in a frame (or in a place on the bar where spilled ingredients won’t bother them.)
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes this Moscow Mule a Kentucky drink?
We are swapping out vodka, the traditional alcohol of a mule, for bourbon, a spirit that is well-known in Kentucky.
In fact, bourbon gets its name from a place that was called Old Bourbon way back in the day. It’s known as Bourbon County now. (And there’s such a thing as the Bourbon Trail.)
What is bourbon? How is it different than whiskey?
All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. (We’ve all heard this one before, right?)
Bourbon is a type of whiskey that has very specific requirements. It’s kind of like France and champagne.
Some of these requirements are:
- The mash making the bourbon must be at least 51% corn
- It must be produced in America
- The mash must be distilled at 160 proof or less and bottled at 125 proof or less.
- Bourbon has to be aged in charred white oak barrels that are new.
Southern Living has a really informative article about the differences between bourbon and whiskey if you want to learn more!
Is there a specific brand of bourbon I should use?
No, there isn’t a specific brand! If you don’t know your bourbon, I’d reach out to someone at your local liquor store who’s knowledgeable and who can help you choose a bottle. (This is what I do whenever I visit the liquor store and don’t feel confident in my ability to choose a good bottle.)
I think it’s important that you don’t want to purchase a bottom shelf bottle of bourbon because you taste the bourbon in this drink and obviously, we want it to taste good.
Can I make this into a pitcher drink?
You sure can! To make a pitcher that serves six, combine 24 oz. ginger beer, 9 oz. bourbon and 3 oz. lime juice in a pitcher. Pour over finely crushed ice in mule glasses and garnish with limes and mint.
Can I make this Kentucky Mule recipe into a pitcher drink?
Absolutely! To make a pitcher to serve six, combine 24 oz ginger beer, 9 oz. Irish whiskey and 3 oz. lime juice in a pitcher with ice. Pour over ice to serve and garnish with limes and mint.
What is the best brand of ginger beer?
Our family really likes Sprouts’ brand ginger beer, as well as Fever Tree. Be forewarned if you purchase the Fever Tree that it is extremely spicy and that it could be overwhelming for some.
Is ginger beer alcoholic?
Look at the label of your ginger beer, but generally speaking, it is not. That said, there are trace amounts of alcohol in ginger beer due to how it’s brewed, but the levels are similar to that of kombucha.
Quick tips for making a Kentucky Mule
- If making a batch of mules, prep the ingredients before you start mixing ‘em.
- Always use fresh lime juice! It makes all the difference.
- Turn it into a pitcher drink! Quadruple the recipe (or multiply it by six) to turn this festive mule into an Kentucky Mule Pitcher.
- Use your blender to crush your ice to a fine texture—it’s a lovely nod to a Mint Julep.
Singing with oak and spicy ginger, the Kentucky Mule is a perfect Derby Day drink. This classic cocktail is made with simple ingredients gets a twist from bourbon.
- 4 oz. ginger beer
- 1 ½ oz. bourbon
- ½ oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Crushed ice, for serving
- Fresh mint, for garnish
- In a blender, crush your ice to a fine texture. (This is optional, but it adds a lovely texture and iciness to the drink!)
- In a copper mug (or your favorite cocktail glass), measure out the ginger beer, bourbon and lime juice.
- Add ice, and stir with a cocktail spoon.
- Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge and enjoy immediately!
You can turn this individual mule into a PITCHER! To make a pitcher that serves six, combine 24 oz. ginger beer, 9 oz. bourbon and 3 oz. lime juice in a pitcher. Pour over finely crushed ice in individual glasses and garnish with limes and mint.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.
Tried it and LOVED it! So refreshing and perfect for the warm weather days. Thanks for another awesome recipe!
Oh, I’m so excited to hear that you loved this, Min! It really is refreshing and perfect for the warm days ahead. Thanks for your review!
Love a Kentucky Mule! My favorite bourbon to use is Angel’s Envy. Those port wine barrels add a little something extra!
Oooooooooh! I love your recommendation for Angel’s Envy, too, and look forward to giving that a try!
I’ve never had a mule I didn’t like, and this one is no exception! Thanks for introducing me to the Kentucky version!
I’m so happy that this was a new find for you and that you enjoyed it, Michelle. Cheers!
I actually prefer a Kentucky Mule over a Moscow Mule!! So good!
Isn’t it just so good?!? So glad you’re into it, too, Michaela! Cheers!