Whiskey is a beautiful thing. It's the foundation for a number of the most popular cocktails of all time: the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Sazerac, Hot Toddy, Whiskey Sour, Rob Roy, Rusty Nail and Irish Coffee (to name a few).
One of the most delicious whiskey drinks is the Irish Mule - a brilliant twist on the legendary Moscow Mule, this clever cocktail swaps vodka for whiskey, and is balanced by ginger beer, lime juice and mint. The Irish Mule is simple to make, boasts a distinct flavor, and is an instant classic.
So what is the Irish Mule, where does it come from, and why is it so amazing? This article is the definitive guide to everything you will ever need to know about....
- The Origins of the Irish Mule
- The Unique Flavor of the Irish Mule
- How to Prepare and Serve an Irish Mule
- A Comprehensive List of Easy Irish Mule Recipes
The Origin of the Mule
People have been mixing Irish Mules since the late 1940's. To understand the humble beginnings of this remarkable whiskey cocktail, you must first consider the history of its predecessor, the original Moscow Mule.
The Moscow Mule was introduced in 1941 as a marketing ploy to get the Hollywood cocktail scene acquainted with vodka (and ginger beer as a mixer), and came cleverly packaged in an eye-catching copper mug.
The drink was a hit, and spin-offs using different liquor bases were quick to emerge. Of all the variations of the Moscow Mule, the Irish Mule became the most prevalent. Americans already knew and loved whiskey, and were excited to discover how well it was complemented by zesty lime juice and spicy ginger beer.
The Irish Mule goes by a number of different names. Historically, it's referred to as an Irish Buck (a Buck is simply what happens when you add ginger ale or ginger beer to a spirit). Sometimes called an Irish Moscow Mule, Midleton Mule, Jameson Mule, or Dublin Mule, this whiskey cocktail, no matter the name, is highly celebrated and always delicious.
No one person is credited with concocting this Mule variation. Bartenders love to get creative, and people love whiskey drinks - the Irish Mule was simply inevitable.
Especially popular on the most celebrated holiday dedicated solely to drinking (St. Patrick's Day), the Irish Mule has become a fan favorite. It's simple to make, can be ordered at any bar or pub, or easily crafted at home in less than 90 seconds. This makes it ideal for entertaining, and is sure to impress your guests.
The Unique Flavor the the Irish Mule
This cocktail clearly looks amazing, but what does an Irish Mule taste like?
A well-crafted cocktail is all about balance and presentation. The Irish Mule is a convergence of two powerful flavors: the acidity and citric zest of lime juice, and the potent spice and heat of ginger. The harshness of both ingredients are subdued when mixed, and transform into a uniquely refreshing and luscious flavor.
Ginger is a critical part of what makes the Irish Mule so appealing. But is there a difference between using ginger ale instead of ginger beer?
There absolutely is. Ginger beer is superior to ginger ale for all Mule variations because of its potency and texture. Ginger beer has a stoutness, and its thick carbonation results in a fantastic fizziness. It also has a more pungent smell that is enhanced with the floral bouquet of fresh lime juice.
The whiskey you choose for your Irish Mule will also certainly affect the overall flavor of the cocktail. For example, an Irish whiskey will typically be much smoother than an American whiskey. Irish whiskey is lighter and less sweet than the full-bodied American whiskey (due to distillation techniques, and Irish whiskey being made from barley, whereas American whiskey can be made from corn, rye, or wheat).
When comparing the Moscow Mule vs. the Irish Mule, the flavor profile tends to be rather similar. Moscow Mules use vodka which, depending on the quality, can have a very minimalist flavor. Whiskey tends to be somewhat bolder, but also is incredibly versatile in the array of mixers it can pair well with. Whichever spirit you prefer, it's the ginger and lime combination that make the Mule so memorable.
When mixing any cocktail, especially the Irish Mule, fresh and high quality ingredients make a big difference. If you skimp out and use bottled lime juice from the supermarket and ginger ale because they are cheaper and easier to find, expect a far less appealing cocktail. And going the extra mile by garnishing and infusing with fresh mint can take your Irish Mule to the next level!
How to Prepare and Serve an Irish Mule
Some cocktails require a high level of expertise, equipment and precision. Luckily, the Irish Mule does not, and its simplicity is certainly part of its appeal. If you can cut a lime and put ice in a cup, you are good to go!
Moscow Mules are typically served in a gleaming copper mug, and if you have some, then by all means extend the tradition to the Irish Mule. However, this is completely optional, and a tall glass or tumbler will also do the trick. It depends on what's available, and how fancy you want to feel as you sip your Mule.
When preparing your Irish Mule, decide how much you like the taste of ginger. Ginger is an amazing root, renowned for its spicy flavor, medicinal properties and soothing effect on the stomach. Ginger beer can be either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and is thicker and more potent than it's more well known cousin ginger ale. Ginger Ale is lighter, sweeter, and less fizzy. In the end, the choice is yours, although most mixologists and traditionalists would agree that ginger beer is the best choice.
When it comes to limes, it is essential to use only freshly squeezed juice. Although every supermarket carries lemon and lime juice in small, fruit-shaped plastic bottles, it is wise to avoid this option (unless you really have no choice). They are full of preservatives and sugar, and pale in comparison to the zest of a fresh lime. One lime should be enough juice for two drinks, so make sure you buy plenty!
The ice can be cubed or crushed, and is also something you need to be sure you have enough of beforehand. Filtered water is recommended, but not required. The Irish Mule is best served over ice, so be prepared by making an ample amount a few hours prior to mixing.
The lime should also be sliced and used as a garnish, and is beautifully complemented by a sprig of fresh mint. This adds color and aromas to your Irish Mule, which enhances the overall experience of the drink. Garnishes are easy to prepare, and help make your drink look and feel professional. So, as important as the base ingredients may be, don't neglect the garnishes!
The Irish Mule is a great cocktail to make because it's easy, and takes about a minute. Halving the lime and squeezing it into the glass is the most labor intensive part of the process, followed by opening the bottle of ginger beer. This is also a great drink to have set up at a drink station at a party, so your guests can follow the easy recipe and make their own Irish Mules at their leisure. They can have fun mixing it as strong or as fancy as they'd like, freeing up the host to attend to more pressing matters.
Mules are great if you're counting calories or carbs. An Irish mule is comparable to a glass of wine in terms of calories (about 120), and the citric Vitamin C and ginger root are also incredibly healthy.
The Irish Mule is fast and easy to make, requires just three common ingredients, and is an ideal cocktail for hosting. Cheers!
A Complete List of Easy Irish Mule Recipes
Green Irish Mule
- 10 mint leaves, muddled
- 2 shots Irish Whiskey
- 3/4 cup non-alcoholic ginger beer
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1 splash lime sparkling water (optional)
- Muddle fresh mint leaves and lime in a copper mug (using an official muddler, or the back of a spoon).
- Add whiskey and splash of sparkling water and give a quick stir.
- Fill ice to the rim, then top off the mug with ginger beer.
- Garnish with fresh mint and lime wheel floating in the drink and on the side of the mug.
Dublin Mule Recipe
- 2 ounces Irish whiskey
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- 5 ounces ginger beer
- Ice cubes
- Fill a copper mug or cocktail glass about three-quarter's full with ice.
- Pour the Irish whiskey over the ice, squeeze some fresh lime juice and add a dash of bitters. Give it a good mix with a spoon or chopstick.
- Fill to the top with ginger beer, garnish with a wedge of lime, and serve!
Midleton Mule Recipe
- 2 ounces of your favorite Irish whiskey
- Half a can of ginger beer
- Two pumps of ginger syrup
- Half a lime
- Add your whiskey, ginger syrup, and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.
- Fill your mule mug with ice, and pour your whiskey concoction from the shaker through the strainer into the mug.
- Fill the mug with ginger beer, and give a few quick swirls with a cocktail stirrer. Add a lime wheel garnish, and be sure to make eye contact while cheers-ing your friends. Bottoms up!