Traditionally, cocktails that combine a spirit, citrus and either ginger ale or ginger beer are referred to as “bucks.” And when vodka was introduced to the American market the drink was cleverly pitched as the alliterated “Moscow Mule.”
Over the last two years of my bartending career, I’ve made more Moscow Mules than in the whole eight years prior. The drink’s popularity has apparently also replaced the original definition of buck as well.
Each spirit has it’s own buck or mule reference. Vodka: Moscow Mule; gin: London Mule; bourbon: Kentucky Buck; and rum gets complicated depending on the island. For example, Smith & Cross is Jamaican rum so it is called a Kingston Buck.
My two personal favorites are London and Kentucky. Both can be built right in a highball glass over ice.
I don’t recommend getting too expensive with your gin as the ginger tends to shine through. I’m a big fan of Beefeater as a mixing gin, however, if you want to spend a little more; my favorite gin is Uncle Val’s.
The London Mule
1 1/2oz gin
Combine first two ingredients and fill the rest of the glass with ginger beer. Then garnish with a thick lime wedge.
For bourbon, I like Buffalo Trace and Knob Creek. (If you prefer rye, I’d recommend Knob Creek or Michter’s). Pretty similar specs with the addition of some bitters.
The Kentucky Buck
1 1/2oz bourbon or rye
Combine first two ingredients and fill the rest of the glass with ginger beer. Then garnish with a lemon slice.
Whichever spirit you choose, you can’t go wrong with a buck or mule’s bright citrus notes for a summer imbibe. Cheers!
The author Joe Coleman is the Lead Mixologist at the Southold boutique catering company Grace & Grit. His focus is on creating craft cocktails with fresh, homemade ingredients for both large-scale events and entertaining at home. Follow his cocktail adventures on Instagram @doublespeak_cocktails or contact him for your own event firstname.lastname@example.org.