We can’t claim to be connoisseurs of fine spirits, but we sure do love a good Moscow Mule! The spicy, zesty flavor of the ginger beer combines with the slightly sweet notes of lime juice and the gin-like bite of vodka. The result is a refreshing cocktail that helps you beat the heat while also clearing your palette.
While preparing a Moscow mule may be easy, your choice of vodka (and even ginger beer) can affect the flavor and quality of this cocktail. These top 10 vodkas for a Moscow mule are affordable, delicious, and perfect for achieving that refreshing, crisp taste when mixed with ginger beer and lime juice.
Background: The Origins of the Moscow Mule
First, a bit of background. It's easy to assume that the cocktail's roots are Russian because of its Moscow Mule name. However, it was created out of a need on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and shortly rose in popularity.
In 1939, a man called John G. Martin bought the rights to Smirnoff vodka. However, Americans refused to consume it, preferring gin and whiskey instead. By 1941, he was almost ready to quit up. Then, on one of his regular excursions to Los Angeles, he visited the Cock 'n' Bull, owned by his pal Jack Morgan.
Now Jack had his own issue: an overflowing cellar of unsold ginger beer that he couldn't sell because customers preferred ginger ale. After some experimentation, one of the Cock 'n' Bull bartenders, Wes Price, came up with a refreshing drink mixing these two components with lime juice over ice. The Moscow Mule was born, referring to both the spirit's birthplace (the Cock n’ Bull) and its apparent “kick”.
The iconic copper cup is attributed to a Sophie Berezinski, a Russian woman who had recently acquired a copper factory, who entered the pub at around the time the Moscow Mule was created. She was determined to liquidate her copper mug inventory and soon persuaded the two–what better way to enjoy a Russian cocktail than in a Russian signature mug? As copper is a superb thermal conductor, it made the drink much better. It was colder, and the mug kept it chilled longer: another instant selling factor.
The Moscow Mule quickly became America's favorite vodka classic, paving the door for countless more. Today, some 80 years later, the famous drink remains one of the most sought-after drinks in America and beyond.
Best Vodka for Moscow Mule
The Mule takes only three ingredients: vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. Yet, since not all vodkas are created equal and not all ginger beers are fresh or available in every store, getting a tasting Moscow Mule can be pretty difficult.
Now there’s a whole world of options when it comes to your favorite brands of vodka. So which one should you use? Well, if you want a premium product that’s easy on the wallet, you can trust any of these vodka brands.
Honestly, the reason that Smirnoff Vodka should be your go-to choice for the Moscow Mule drink is that it's what started it all and is what everyone is familiar with. At just $19.95 per bottle, there's no reason not to grab a few bottles of Smirnoff Vodka to create the best Moscow Mule. While the price might be low, the quality is not. When you need a clear, robust yet smooth-tasting vodka to blend with fresh ginger juice, look no further than Smirnoff. Just add the ginger!
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
If you really want to appreciate the smoother side of vodka, look no further than Tito’s. It is one of the most awarded vodkas in America and is surprisingly smooth for its affordable price. This Texas-made spirit shows off a "house" character, which sets it apart from other vodkas in its category. It’s also the perfect vodka to mix; it’s a powerful yet smooth vodka that can be used in many creative ways. It is also easy to drink and very sweet, unlike other vodkas. The fresh, citrus taste is clean, a touch sweet, and mixes well with ginger beer, cranberry or grapefruit juice and a lime wedge in the traditional Moscow Mule cocktail.
Meet the original vodka: Stolichnaya vodka, created in Russia with 100% natural ingredients and triple-distilled for taste. This is the essential ingredient for signature shots, mixed drinks, and creative libations. Stoli isn't afraid of flashy things, but it knows its quality comes from the inside. It's vodka for vodka lovers who want an assertive spirit with a smooth finish. The taste lingers and makes warm memories. There's no mistaking this one on your table or in your drink. That iconic red label speaks volumes, and there's no arguing against the unmistakable quality of ingredients poured into every bottle.
Russian Standard Gold
Russian Standard Gold is cask-aged, offering a crisp taste that pairs beautifully with spicy-sweet ginger beer. This vodka recipe is infused with Siberian ginseng, inspired by an age-old recipe. Russian Standard Gold has the complexity and fresh character of wheat vodka but with a robust and lingering finish that is bold and rich. The result is a crisp vodka designed to be mixed chilled or neat.
The proof and price make it a premium mixing vodka, perfect for classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule or Bloody Mary. Open your door to the world of cocktails.
Ciroc is a delicious way to get a taste of France without the airfare. This vodka is made from grapes, not potatoes, and it has a distinctively smooth finish that lends itself particularly well to the classic Moscow Mule cocktail. Ciroc is the French (as in, from France) vodka (as in, not from Scotland), and like most French things, it's very sophisticated and elegant. Ciroc Vodka gets its flavor from a unique process called cold fermentation, which develops a flavor relatively similar to that of champagne. Ciroc brings a bold fruity character to any cocktail. It's definitely one of the most exciting vodkas out there.
Ketel One Vodka
No frills. No aftertaste. Just fine ingredients. We’re talking about Ketel One. What’s not to love? Tasting notes: clean and crisp with a hint of fruit and vodka’s favorite ingredient, wheat. It’s not just the flavor as it is the aroma that makes Ketel One unique and memorable. Smooth and complex, Ketel One vodka is perfectly balanced with no distinctive aftertaste. Equally important, because of its neutral flavor profile, Ketel One can be mixed in any cocktail or served straight up. There are times when you want the most straightforward, most unadulterated taste experience around. With Ketel, you always get sophisticated alcohol ready for all occasions.
A favorite flavor among party people, Grey Goose, is a premium vodka that delivers a crisp, clean and smooth taste. It’s good vodka and perhaps even the best vodka to sip. It’s got a smoothness that we find approaching euphoria. And it's rather versatile too. Smooth and elegant, with a sweetness from the wheat that creates subtle spice and a soft, creamy finish. It is the epitome of elegant taste– with a fresh, pure, clean, and crisp flavor. A hint of fruit and floral aromas with an edge of warmth. Despite its delicate taste, this vodka has a backbone. It stands up to citrus juices, tonics, and spices which are essential ingredients in cocktails like the Moscow mule. It’s vodka for people who appreciate quality, and it comes in an elegant bottle at an equally reasonable price.
Absolut Vodka envelops the spirit of Sweden in a bottle. This Swedish vodka was crafted for perfection. Made from 100 % natural ingredients and possessing an enduringly smooth taste, it’s not surprising that Absolut has been permanently etched into many a vodka connoisseur’s minds. The hand-crafted process that goes into each bottle of Absolut is so meticulous, and it takes more than 1,000 steps to make! From harvesting the winter wheat, via distilling in copper stills, to their final bottling step in Lund, Sweden—each step is heavily monitored and rigorously tested. The result? A true masterpiece.
If you are looking for the perfect vodka for a legendary drink, you’ve found it. Silver-bottled perfection, Skyy vodka is made by taking the purest water from the San Francisco bay and adding it to grain. This move makes for a distinct point of difference for SKYY vodka. The vodka is then quadruple distilled to a smoothness most will find impressive and 3x filtered through limestone to give it an amazing taste and finish that can’t be faked. Its fresh taste and quality will add flavor you’ll feel down to your mule bones. We think it’s just right for a Moscow Mule.
Haku Japanese Vodka
If you love the flavor of umami, you’ll be pleased to discover Suntory’s Haku. It’s not just another vodka. Suntory’s newest spirit is made from rice, just like a fine sake, but takes things even further. Just one step in the distillation process is added: The addition of the koji culture to make this Japanese vodka shine. Those masterful folks at Suntory found that the fermentation of koji gives Haku a notable umami flavor; it’s hearty, not light and clean like so many vodkas on the market. It’s complex, savory, and sweet all at once and would be an excellent match for your favorite ginger beer in a spicy Moscow Mule.
HOW TO MAKE MOSCOW MULE
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 3 ounces ginger beer, chilled
- Garnish: lime wheel
- Get your Moscow Mule mug and fill it with ice.
- Add the vodka of your choice and lime juice.
- Use ginger beer to finish it off.
- Serve with a lime wheel for garnish.
We hope that we have helped you to pick out the best vodka to use for your next Moscow Mule. Regardless of the brand, you choose to purchase, enjoy this cocktail in moderation, as it contains a fair amount of alcohol. Otherwise, sip and savor!
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