Easy Kentucky Mule

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The Kentucky Mule is a Southern twist on the classic Moscow Mule. Combine bourbon and ginger beer with fresh lime juice for an easy, refreshing 3-ingredient cocktail. Such an easy way to impress guests with your bartending skills!

Titled Image: Best Ever Kentucky Mule


Kentucky Mule

You’ve probably heard of the Moscow mule — or its Irish cousin — but what is a Kentucky mule? 

It’s the same delicious ginger lime cocktail made with bourbon instead of vodka or whiskey!

A little sweet, a little spicy, with just the right amount of bubbles, this bourbon and ginger beer cocktail is the right choice for any occasion. 

Enjoy a mug on a warm day or mix up a whole pitcher for friends. All you need are 3 simple ingredients!

While you’ve got that bottle open, why not make some bourbon barbecue chicken kabobs or baby back ribs? Both are coated in a sticky, sweet sauce that is finger-lickin’ good.

ingredients for kentucky mule

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Kentucky Bourbon – I prefer Maker’s Mark but have used Jim Beam to make this Kentucky mule recipe with good results.

    Feel free to use your favorite brand or whatever fits your budget!
  • Ginger Beer – Similar to ginger ale, but with a bolder flavor and fewer bubbles. Despite the name, it’s not actually a beer and is typically non-alcoholic.

    If you prefer a lighter, less spicy bite to your Kentucky mule cocktail, it’s fine to use ginger ale instead.
  • Fresh Limes – Depending on the size, you’ll need one lime for juicing and another for garnish. But you may get away with one for both if it’s big enough!

    Bottled lime juice will work in a pinch, but it’s best to use the kind found with the drink mixers. Avoid the concentrated stuff from the produce aisle.
  • Ice – Sure, most people have this on hand, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it!

    Use cubed or crushed ice depending on your preference — it goes right in the mug for drinking.
pouring bourbon into a copper mug

Tips to Make a Perfect Kentucky Mule Drink

  • Use the right bar tools.

A jigger is a bartender’s friend, allowing precise measurements at a glance for a perfectly balanced cocktail. In a pinch, use liquid shot glass measuring cups for accuracy.

For stirring, grab a bar spoon. It’s long and slender, slipping easily through the ice so everything is well mixed.

  • Adjust the sweetness and ginger flavor to your liking.

Scale the amount of ginger beer up or down depending on how much bourbon you want to taste. 

You can also add a little ginger syrup or muddle a few slices of fresh ginger in the bottom of the glass before adding the ice.

It’ll boost the ginger flavor without messing with the ratio of bourbon or overwhelming the drink with bubbles.

Too much bite? Stir in a sugar cube or add a splash of simple syrup!

  • Experiment with extra layers of flavor.

Add a dash of aromatic bitters or use an infused bourbon — honey and cinnamon are popular choices.

Ginger beer comes in a variety of flavors as well, adding extra citrus or chili peppers for heat.

Don’t forget garnishes! Bourbon-soaked fruit makes each drink look extra fancy, while a smoked salt rim adds smokiness to each sip.

Prep Ahead

  • Trim mint sprigs for garnish
  • Juice and slice limes

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Copper Mug – This is the classic choice for a Kentucky mule drink — or any mule, for that matter! Pop it in the freezer first for an extra chilled cocktail.
  • Jigger – Essential for any well-stocked bar, this quickly and accurately measures liquids for making cocktails. In a pinch, liquid measuring cups will work as well.
  • Bar Spoon – A long, thin spoon that quickly mixes ingredients no matter how tall the glass is.
  • Citrus Juicer – This gets every last drop out, which makes juicing limes so much easier.
adding ginger beer to copper mug for kentucky mule recipe

Serving Suggestions 

Add a sprig of mint to each Kentucky mule drink, plus a slice of lime to the rim of the mug. Pieces of candied ginger can make each cocktail extra special!

Pair with mini sandwiches and shortbread pecan pie bars for a Kentucky Derby party, or sip mugs poolside while you catch some summer rays.

Better yet, the lime and mint combo makes this a year-round cocktail, so mix up a batch for the winter holidays too!

stirring kentucky mule with bar spoon

How to Make Batch Bourbon Mule Cocktails

This Kentucky mule recipe is easy to scale up for parties or weekend sipping. Don’t worry, I’ve done the calculations for you!

Add everything to a large pitcher (at least 60-ounce capacity) and give it a stir, then pour the bourbon mule mixture into copper mugs full of ice.

  • 1 ½ cups Kentucky bourbon
  • 4 cups ginger beer
  • ½ cup lime juice

This batch recipe will give you 8 servings. If you plan to make it ahead of time, wait to add the ginger beer so it doesn’t go flat.

Kentucky Mule Recipe FAQ

Can I use another citrus juice?

Sure! Lemon juice is a pretty standard swap for lime juice, but grapefruit would lend a refreshing twist to your Kentucky mule cocktail!

If you want to try orange juice, be sure to strain it well so there’s no pulp.

Do I have to use a copper mug?

No, but copper mugs are the most popular choice for a reason! The hammered metal helps to insulate the cocktail and keep it cold for longer. Plus, the ice melts slower so you don’t have to worry about a watered-down drink.

If you don’t have any handy, serve your bourbon mule in a highball, rocks glass, or metal mug of your choice.

What’s the best bourbon for a Kentucky mule?

Choose any good-quality brand of Kentucky bourbon such as Bulleit, Jim Beam, Four Roses, or (my personal favorite) Maker’s Mark.

With just a few ingredients in this cocktail, the quality of the liquor really makes a difference!!

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.

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kentucky mule in a copper mug

closeup of kentucky mule in a copper mug

Easy Kentucky Mule

Donna Elick
Make a Kentucky Mule with 3 simple ingredients: Kentucky bourbon, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint!
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Course Drink
Cuisine American
Method Mixed
Servings 1 6 ounce cocktail


  • ice, cubed or crushed
  • 1 1/2 ounces Kentucky bourbon, I prefer Maker’s Mark
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, (1/2 to 1 lime)
  • lime wedge/slice, mint sprig, for garnish


  • Fill a copper mug or glass with ice.
  • Pour the bourbon and ginger beer into the mug.
  • Add the lime juice, then use a bar spoon to stir.
  • Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge or slice, if desired.

Donna’s Notes

I prefer Maker’s Mark in this but also use Jim Beam to make this cocktail. Use what you prefer, or what fits your budget.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 140cal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 9mg | Sugar: 10g | Fiber: 0.1g | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Best Ever Kentucky Mule - PIN

Originally published March 2024

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