Moscow Mule: Easy 3-Ingredient Cocktail [The Ultimate Recipe]

What is a Moscow Mule?

The Moscow Mule is a popular classic cocktail known for its sharp, refreshing taste, combining vodka, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice. Traditionally served in a copper mug, this drink is garnished with a lime slice, sometimes mint, and is cherished for its spicy, sweet, and citrusy flavor profile. The copper mug enhances its visual appeal and keeps the drink cold.

Why is the cocktail called a Moscow Mule?

The Moscow Mule is named for its two primary components: the word “Moscow” is a nod to its main ingredient, vodka, which is commonly associated with Russia, and “Mule” refers to the sharp kick of flavor provided by the ginger beer. This name was conceived in the 1940s in the United States as part of a marketing strategy to popularize vodka, which was relatively unfamiliar to the American public at the time. The cocktail’s unique combination of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, often served in a distinctive copper mug, quickly caught on, making the Moscow Mule a classic in the world of cocktails.


The classic Moscow Mule cocktail is made from just three simple yet invigorating ingredients. It typically consists of 2 ounces (60 ml) of vodka, which acts as the smooth, clear base of the drink. Complementing the vodka, 4 ounces (120 ml) of ginger beer adds a spicy, slightly sweet fizz. The zest of this cocktail comes from ½ ounce (15 ml) of fresh lime juice, providing a citrusy tang that balances the flavors perfectly.

  • Vodka: 2 oz (60 ml)
  • Ginger Beer: 4 oz (120 ml)
  • Fresh Lime Juice: ½ oz (15 ml)
  • Ice
  • Lime slice for garnish
  • Fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Ingredient Substitutes

When it comes to tweaking the Moscow Mule, you have several options. The vodka can be substituted by any other clear liquor, such as gin or white rum. For a non-alcoholic version, replace vodka with non-alcoholic spirits or additional ginger beer. If ginger beer isn’t available, it’s not your thing, or you’re looking for a different flavor profile, try ginger ale for a milder taste or club soda for a less sweet, more carbonated twist. Lastly, lemon juice can be a zesty substitute for lime. Naturally, all of these substitutes will alter the classic taste.

  • Gin or White Rum as Vodka substitutes
  • Non-alcoholic Vodka or additional Ginger Beer for alcohol-free version
  • Ginger Ale or Club Soda as Ginger Beer alternatives
  • Lemon Juice as an alternative to Lime Juice

Ingredient Proportions

The ideal Moscow Mule ratio combines 4 ounces (120 ml) of ginger beer with 2 ounces (60 ml) of vodka and ½ ounce (15 ml) of fresh lime juice. This 4:2:0.5 proportion creates a well-balanced cocktail, where the warmth of the vodka is perfectly offset by the spiciness of the ginger beer and the tartness of the lime juice. While these measurements provide the classic taste, feel free to adjust them according to your preference, making the drink sweeter, stronger, or more citrusy as desired.

  • 4:2:0.5 ratio
    • 4 parts Ginger Beer
    • 2 parts Vodka
    • 0.5 part Fresh Lime Juice
  • Adjustable to personal taste preferences

Best Ingredients

To craft the perfect Moscow Mule, focus on quality ingredients. Opt for a smooth, clean-tasting vodka that complements rather than overpowers the other elements. Freshly squeezed lime juice is crucial for that zesty freshness, while a good ginger beer should have a noticeable ginger kick and a balance of sweetness and spiciness. These components should harmonize to create a refreshing and invigorating drink.

  • Smooth, clean-tasting vodka
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Ginger beer with a good balance of ginger spice and sweetness

Flavor Profile

The Moscow Mule is known for its distinctive flavor profile. It offers a delightful balance of sweet and spicy notes from the ginger beer, underpinned by the clean, crisp taste of vodka. The fresh lime juice adds a tangy, citrusy edge that elevates the drink, making it highly drinkable and refreshing. This cocktail is perfect for sipping on a warm day or as a lively kickstarter to an evening.

  • Sweet and spicy from ginger beer
  • Clean and crisp vodka taste
  • Tangy and citrusy from fresh lime juice
  • Refreshing and ideal for various occasions

Tools & Equipment

Preparing a Moscow Mule requires a few essential tools to ensure the drink is as authentic and enjoyable as possible. A copper mug is traditional and helps maintain the cocktail’s temperature. You’ll also need a jigger to measure the ingredients accurately. A bar spoon or other stirrer is crucial for mixing the ingredients without disrupting the carbonation of the ginger beer. Additionally, a knife and cutting board are useful for cutting slices of fresh lime for garnish. Finally, a citrus juicer is handy for extracting fresh lime juice efficiently.

  • Copper mug for serving
  • Jigger for accurate measurement
  • Bar spoon or gentle stirrer
  • Citrus juicer for fresh lime juice
  • Knife and cutting board for garnish prep

Instructions for Preparation

Here is how to make a Moscow Mule cocktail, step-by-step:

  • Step 1: Fill a copper mug with ice to chill it.
  • Step 2: Measure 2 ounces (60 ml) of vodka using the jigger and pour it over the ice.
  • Step 3: Add 4 ounces (120 ml) of ginger beer to the mug.
  • Step 4: Squeeze in ½ ounce (15 ml) of fresh lime juice.
  • Step 5: Gently stir the mixture with a bar spoon to combine the ingredients without flattening the ginger beer.
  • Step 6: Garnish with a lime slice and, if desired, a sprig of fresh mint for added aroma.

This method ensures that your Moscow Mule has the perfect balance of flavors and maintains its effervescence.

Stir or Shake

When preparing a Moscow Mule, stirring is the recommended method. Shaking can overly dilute the cocktail and disrupt the carbonation of the ginger beer, leading to a less crisp and effervescent drink. Gently stirring the ingredients ensures that the vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice are well integrated while maintaining the fizzy quality of the ginger beer.

  • Stir, don’t shake
  • Maintains carbonation and prevents over-dilution

Ice, Chilling & Dilution

The use of ice in a Moscow Mule is twofold: it chills the drink and subtly dilutes the cocktail as it melts, mellowing the flavors. Pre-chilling the copper mug enhances this effect, keeping the drink colder for longer. Use plenty of cube or crushed ice to fill the mug. The right amount of ice ensures the drink remains cold without becoming too diluted too quickly.

  • Pre-chill copper mug
  • Fill mug with cube or crushed ice
  • Balances chilling and dilution

Scaling for a Group

To serve a Moscow Mule to a group, multiply the ingredients by the number of servings required. Prepare in a large pitcher or jug for easy serving. Remember to adjust the proportions accordingly and add ice to individual mugs rather than the pitcher to prevent premature dilution.

  • Multiply ingredients per number of servings
  • Mix in a pitcher or jug
  • Add ice to mugs, not the pitcher


The most common mistakes when making a Moscow Mule include using low-quality ginger beer, which can make the drink too sweet or lack the necessary ginger kick. Over-stirring can flatten the ginger beer, and too much lime juice can overpower the other flavors. Ensuring a balance of high-quality ingredients and gentle mixing is key to a perfect Moscow Mule.

  • Use high-quality ginger beer
  • Avoid over-stirring
  • Balance lime juice amount


The presentation of a Moscow Mule is almost as important as its taste, contributing to the overall experience of enjoying this classic cocktail.


The traditional choice for serving a Moscow Mule is a copper mug. This iconic vessel not only adds a rustic charm but also keeps the drink colder for longer, enhancing the refreshing quality of the cocktail.

If a copper mug isn’t available, a rocks glass or even a highball glass can be a suitable alternative. These glasses also provide a good visual of the drink and maintain its temperature reasonably well.

  • Classic: Copper mug for authenticity and temperature control
  • Alternative: Rocks glass or highball glass


A classic garnish for a Moscow Mule is a lime slice or wedge, which complements the citrus notes in the drink. A sprig of fresh mint can also be added for an aromatic touch.

For a creative twist, consider adding a thin slice of ginger or a sprig of rosemary for an aromatic kick. Edible flowers or a cucumber slice can also add a visually appealing and subtly flavored garnish.

  • Classic: Lime slice or wedge, optional mint sprig
  • Creative: Ginger slice, rosemary, edible flowers, cucumber slice

Variations & Riffs

The Moscow Mule, with its distinct blend of vodka, ginger beer, and lime, has inspired a range of variations that play on its refreshing and spicy profile. Here are several popular riffs on this classic cocktail:

  1. Kentucky Mule: Swaps out vodka for bourbon, offering a richer, oakier flavor profile.
  2. Mexican Mule: Uses tequila instead of vodka, adding a smooth, agave-based twist.
  3. Gin-Gin Mule: Gin replaces vodka, complementing the ginger beer with its botanical notes.
  4. Dark ‘n Stormy: A close relative made with dark rum and ginger beer, accentuated with lime.
  5. London Mule: Features gin and adds a dash of Angostura bitters for complexity.
  6. Jamaican Mule: Uses spiced rum for a warmer, more tropical taste.
  7. Mezcal Mule: Mezcal brings a smoky depth to the traditional recipe.
  8. Apple Cider Mule: Mixes in apple cider for a sweet, autumnal flavor.
  9. Irish Mule: Substitutes vodka with Irish whiskey, adding a smooth, malty character.
  10. French Mule: Incorporates cognac, lending a rich, fruity elegance to the drink.
  11. Southern Mule: Adds a Southern twist with peach schnapps or bourbon and a splash of peach nectar.
  12. Elderflower Mule: A splash of elderflower liqueur adds a floral, sweet note.

Each of these variations maintains the core appeal of the Moscow Mule while introducing new flavors and spirits, offering a delightful range for every palate.

Experiment (Create Your Own Riff)

Creating your own riff on the Moscow Mule allows for a delightful exploration of flavors and ingredients.

Begin with the base spirit; vodka can be substituted with options like gin for botanical undertones, rum for a tropical note, or bourbon for a deeper profile. Experiment with different ginger beers or add a twist with ginger-infused syrups. Citrus variations, such as lemon or grapefruit, can offer a fresh perspective. Introducing other elements like elderflower liqueur or fresh herbs like basil can add complexity. Sweeteners like honey or agave nectar provide alternative sweetness profiles, while spices like cinnamon can add warmth.

  • Substitute vodka with gin, rum, bourbon, or non-alcoholic spirits.
  • Experiment with various ginger beers or ginger-infused syrups.
  • Try different citrus fruits like lemon or grapefruit.
  • Add complexity with liqueurs, fresh herbs, or spices.
  • Explore alternative sweeteners like honey or agave nectar.

This approach to mixology encourages creativity and personalization, making your Moscow Mule uniquely yours.

Serving Occasions

The Moscow Mule, with its refreshing and vibrant flavor profile, is perfect for a variety of occasions. It’s a popular choice for summer barbecues and outdoor gatherings due to its cooling and revitalizing nature. This cocktail also shines at cocktail parties and happy hours, offering a light yet flavorful option that appeals to a wide range of palates. The Moscow Mule’s ease of preparation makes it a go-to choice for casual get-togethers, while its classic status and distinctive copper mug presentation render it suitable for more formal events as well.

  • Ideal for summer barbecues and outdoor events
  • Great for cocktail parties and happy hours
  • Suitable for both casual and formal gatherings
  • Appeals to a wide range of tastes

Food Pairings

When it comes to food pairings, the Moscow Mule’s crisp and spicy flavor profile makes it a very versatile drink. It pairs exceptionally well with light appetizers like ceviche, shrimp cocktail, or sushi, complementing the delicate flavors of seafood. The ginger and lime notes also work well with spicy dishes, balancing the heat with its refreshing qualities. For those enjoying a casual setting, it’s a fantastic accompaniment to barbecued meats or grilled vegetables, adding a zesty contrast to the smoky flavors.

  • Complements seafood like ceviche, shrimp cocktail, and sushi
  • Balances spicy dishes with its refreshing taste
  • Pairs well with barbecued meats and grilled vegetables
  • Versatile for a variety of culinary styles
Moscow Mule Cocktail

Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule, a famous classic cocktail, offers a zesty, spicy kick with its blend of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, served in a signature copper mug for a visually striking appearance.
Total Time 3 minutes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 1 Copper mug (also known as Moscow Mule cup)
  • 1 Measuring jigger
  • 1 Bar spoon
  • 1 Citrus juicer
  • 1 Knife and cutting board


  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 4 oz Ginger beer
  • ½ oz Lime juice
  • 1 cup Ice (for serving)
  • 1 slice Lime (for garnish)
  • 1 sprig Fresh mint (optional; for garnish)


  • Fill a copper mug with ice cubes.
  • Pour vodka over the ice.
  • Top up with ginger beer.
  • Squeeze in fresh lime juice for a citrusy tang.
  • Gently stir the ingredients together.
  • Garnish with a slice of lime and, if preferred, a sprig of mint for an aromatic finish.
  • Serve immediately, enjoying the crisp, refreshing qualities of this classic cocktail.


Calories: 176kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.03gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 21mgPotassium: 31mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 53IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 0.3mg
Calories: 176kcal
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: ginger beer, vodka
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