Two copper mugs side by side on a metal serving tray filled with chilled bourbon cocktails garnished with mint and lime.

If you’re looking for a perfectly refreshing cocktail to enjoy during hot weather, look no further than this Kentucky Mule!

As you can probably tell from its name, a Kentucky Mule is just like a Moscow Mule—except you use bourbon instead of vodka! You still have the crisp bite of lime and the tang of ginger beer all in a frosty, cold bourbon cocktail that’s perfect for sipping on the porch during the dog days of summer. Let’s get mixing!

Kentucky mules with limes garnishing the rim and decorating the serving tray.

What’s the difference between a Moscow Mule and a Kentucky Mule?

A classic Moscow mule is made with vodka, but a Kentucky mule is made with bourbon. Otherwise, both cocktails are pretty much the same—in each, the alcohol is mixed with ginger beer and lime juice. And both are typically served in copper mugs!

Other Moscow mule variations include:

  • Dark and Stormy, where you use rum instead of vodka.
  • Mexican Mule, which uses tequila for the liquor
  • Gin-Gin Mule uses—you guessed it!—gin

What bourbon do I use in a Kentucky Mule?

We like to reserve our best bourbons for drinking straight and instead use a middle-of-the-road bourbon for cocktails like this Kentucky Mule. The other bright flavors in this cocktail will cover up any harsh taste in the bourbon, so you can save some cash and go middle shelf here. Woodford Reserve, Bulleit Bourbon, and Maker’s Mark all work well in this recipe.

Two Kentucky mules with fresh mint on a dark metal serving tray.

Are bourbon and whiskey the same thing?

Not quite. Bourbon is a type of whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. Bourbon whiskey is made solely in the United States in charred-oak barrels. Bourbon tends to be a little smoother than other whiskeys as well. 

What is a Kentucky Mule made of?

For this refreshing cocktail, you’ll need:

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • A lime
  • Ginger beer
  • Simple syrup (optional)

And we definitely recommend the traditional copper mule mugs, but they aren’t absolutely necessary!

Two Kentucky mules in copper mugs on a dark metal serving tray.

What’s this about simple syrup?

To make it, combine one cup sugar and one cup water, heating and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. You’ll only need about one tablespoon per mule cocktail, and you can use the rest in margaritassun tealimoncello, or DIY soda.

Why is a Kentucky Mule served in a copper mug? 

The copper mugs are optional, but they do improve the drinking experience! Thanks to copper’s temperature-conducting properties, the copper mugs adjust to the temperature of the drink, and keep it nice and chilled for you. 

Overhead of two kentucky mules in copper mugs with bright green lime and mint garnishes.

Want more cocktail recipes like this one?

Two copper mugs side by side on a metal serving tray filled with chilled bourbon cocktails garnished with mint and lime.

Kentucky Mule

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

Unleash your inner cowboy with a refreshing Kentucky Mule. This twist on the Moscow Mule is made with bourbon, ginger beer and a splash of lime juice.


  • 2 ounces bourbon (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (1 tablespoon, from about 1/2 lime)
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup (1 tablespoon, optional)
  • 4 ounces ginger beer, to top (1/2 cup)
  • Mint sprig, lime wedge, and ice, for serving


  1. Fill a mule mug with ice. Pour in the bourbon, lime juice, and simple syrup if using. Stir to combine. Top off with ginger beer.
  2. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedge.


  • Simple syrup is optional here, but we’ve noticed different brands of ginger beer have different levels of sweetness. If you find your mule a little too tangy and boozy, a tablespoon of simple syrup can help cut the harshness.
  • To make simple syrup: Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 119Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 12mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 2gSugar: 25gProtein: 1g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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