A Kentucky Mule is a Moscow Mule with a twist – it’s made with bourbon whiskey instead of vodka. This tangy and fizzy cocktail is easy to stir together in a copper mug.

Two hammered copper mugs filled with a Kentucky mule cocktail, garnished with lime wedges and mint sprigs.

I was randomly in Kentucky for just a few hours earlier this summer. My family took a long weekend trip to Cincinnati so we could take my daughter to the Cincinnati Zoo (she’s a big fan of Fiona the hippo and Rico the porcupine).

Turns out that Covington, Kentucky is just a 10 minute drive from downtown Cincinnati, so we headed there one evening for dinner and cannoli, and to check out a vintage spirits shop (mostly specializing in bourbon and whiskey).

This little trip inspired me to come home and start using bourbon in more cocktails. While I have a personal rule that I won’t try a mint julep until I attend the Kentucky Derby, I have no such rule about bourbon mules!

While the season for strawberry mules with fresh local berries is over, and I’m not quite ready to dive back into caramel apple mules, this Kentucky mule recipe is perfect pretty much all year ’round.

A hammered copper mug filled with a whiskey mule cocktail, garnished with a mint sprig, with a bottle of ginger beer being poured into the mug.

What’s in this whiskey mule recipe?

According to the International Bartender’s Association, a classic Moscow mule recipe is 45 ml Smirnoff vodka, 120 ml ginger beer, and 10 ml fresh lime juice.

But, since we’re making a Kentucky mule recipe, we’ll be using bourbon or whiskey instead of vodka (save the vodka for basil cocktails!). And I’ve written the recipe in easy-to-measure ounces instead of ml, since that’s how most of us like to measure.

I’ve also added a few dashes of aromatic bitters to this whiskey mule, because I love how they pair with bourbon. And I added a mint garnish to give it a Kentucky flair!

If you have extra mint left over after making this bourbon mule recipe, it can be used to make the couscous for my almond crusted chicken recipe.

Overhead image of bourbon mule cocktails in copper mugs with lots of ice, garnished with mint leaves and lime wheels.

What is the best bourbon for a Kentucky mule?

In my opinion, the best mule for a Kentucky mule (and almost all bourbon cocktails, really) is Bulleit bourbon (the classic orange label variety). It has a very clean and smooth flavor, and is versatile for just about anything you want to make with it.

Some other great choices for a whiskey mule are Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses. All of these are distilled in Kentucky, and are also delicious in apple cider old fashioneds and apple cider bourbon punch.

Two hammered copper mugs filled with Moscow mules with whiskey, garnished with limes and mint.

How to make a Kentucky mule:

Making this bourbon mule recipe truly couldn’t be easier. You’ll start by adding lime juice, bitters and bourbon to your mugs. Give that a stir so everything is well combined.

Add the ginger beer, and then fill the remainder of the mugs with ice, and stir again. Serve the whiskey mules garnished with lime wedges and mint sprigs.

Two hammered copper mugs filled with a Kentucky mule cocktail, garnished with lime wedges and mint sprigs.

Why is this bourbon mule recipe served in copper mugs?

Mules are served in copper mugs for a few reasons!

There’s conflicting origin stories for this cocktail (isn’t that true of every cocktail?) but one version suggests that the girlfriend of the bartender who created the drink owned a copper-making company. So interesting, right?

More importantly, probably, is that copper is an excellent conductor of temperature, meaning that iced drinks like bourbon mules stay SUPER COLD in copper mugs!

In fact, there’s been times my Kentucky mules have been so cold it’s felt like my esophagus was frozen. Sip carefully, friends!

Some mule enthusiasts even say that the copper itself makes the drink taste better by enhancing the flavors of the ginger beer and lime. I’m not sure about this (most cocktails, including my bourbon rosemary cocktail, seem to taste just fine in a regular glass), but I guess it can’t hurt!

If you’re going to be drinking whiskey mules regularly, I do recommend investing in some copper mugs if you can. But if not, a double old fashioned glass works just fine for these Kentucky mules!

A hammered copper mug filled with ice cubes and clear liquid, garnished with limes and mint.

Serve some snacks with these Moscow mules with whiskey!

Who doesn’t like a little something to nibble on when they’re having a cocktail (or an agave lemonade for the non drinkers, perhaps)?

More refreshing summer cocktails:

Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than a fruity, ice cold drink!

Two hammered copper mugs filled with Moscow mules with whiskey, garnished with limes and mint.

Kentucky Mule (Bourbon Whiskey Mule)

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

A Kentucky Mule is a Moscow Mule with a twist - it's made with bourbon whiskey instead of vodka. This tangy and fizzy cocktail is easy to stir together in a copper mug.

Ingredients

  • Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1/2 ounce)
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 1-1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • Lime wedge and mint sprig, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place lime juice, bitters and bourbon in copper mug; stir until well combined. Add ginger beer. Fill remainder of mug with ice; stir until well combined. Serve garnished with lime and mint.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 9mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g

This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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