Mint and ginger spice up this modern classic
Mules, we’ve heard, like to boast that their ancestors were horses. And true to form, this drink descends from some thoroughbred cocktails (more on that later).
But right now, you need to slake your thirst, no? So let’s mix up this refresher.
It’s a summery combo of gin and ginger beer (hence gin-gin), topped off with a fragrant mint garnish. And it can charm the hind legs off a donkey.
So lift a glass of this to your lips and kiss our . . . mule.
Recipe: The Gin-Gin Mule Cocktail
The Gin-Gin Mule was created by bartender extraordinaire Audrey Saunders (aka the Libation Goddess). More in the Notes.
The key components for this drink are gin (London dry variety) and ginger beer (homemade non-effervescent, preferably).
So why is this drink called a “mule”? Because it derives from the Moscow Mule Cocktail, which is a mix of vodka, lime, and ginger beer.
But it also borrows flavor from the Mojito Cocktail, a combo of white rum, mint, and lime.
This drink is fairly simple to prepare. But for full effect, you do need fresh mint and homemade ginger beer. The ginger beer sounds daunting, but the version you need for this drink isn’t fermented (that’s why it’s non-effervescent), so it’s actually pretty quick and easy to make (we provide Audrey Saunders’s recipe below). If you’re in a hurry, you can just substitute commercial ginger beer (see Notes).
Making the ginger beer takes about 10 minutes of active time. Then it needs to sit for about an hour before you use it.
Once you’re ready to go, this drink takes about 5 minutes to prepare. The recipe serves 1.
For Audrey Saunders's homemade ginger beer:
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ~12 fresh mint leaves
- ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1¾ ounces dry gin, preferably Tanqueray (see Notes)
- 1 ounce homemade ginger beer (see Notes if you want to substitute commercial ginger beer)
- a splash of soda water (very optional)
- 1 mint sprig for garnish (not really optional; see Notes)
- First, make the ginger beer: Roughly chop about 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger (a piece of ginger about 1½ inches; no need to peel). Then whiz the pieces in a mini food processor until finely shredded/grated. Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a small saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chopped ginger, stir to combine, then cover the pan and let it sit for 1 hour so the flavor of the ginger permeates the water. When the hour is up, strain the water through a fine mesh strainer or a cheesecloth (we use a spoon to press down on the solids in order to extract more flavor). Add the lime juice and brown sugar to the liquid. Stir to combine. When the mixture is cool, funnel it into a squeeze bottle or a glass container and cap tightly. The ginger beer is now ready to use. It’ll keep in the refrigerator for about a week. (Good thing, because this recipe makes enough for several drinks.)
- When ready to mix the cocktail: Add the mint leaves, lime juice, and simple syrup to a shaker. Using a cocktail muddler or a wooden spoon, muddle the mint leaves briefly (5 seconds or so; you just want to bruise them enough to release some of their flavor). Add the gin and homemade ginger beer to the shaker, then add enough ice to fill the shaker halfway. Shake vigorously until the contents are chilled (20 seconds or so).
- Strain into an ice-filled highball or rocks glass. Top off with soda water, if desired (we don’t desire; see Notes). Add the mint sprig garnish and serve.
- If you’re using large glasses (ones that hold more than 9 or 10 ounces) to serve this drink, you might not have enough cocktail mix to fill them. You can add some soda water to top them off if you like. You’ll dilute the flavor of the drink if you do this – but you might prefer the drink made that way. So taste it both before and after adding the soda water to see which you favor (we much prefer to skip the soda water).
- We consider the mint sprig garnish an essential part of this cocktail. That’s because, as you drink, you’ll inhale its aroma. This increases the overall “mintiness” of the drink.
- BTW, mint is easy to grow and tends to spread like a weed. We always have a big patch of it in our garden.
- The homemade ginger beer required for this drink isn’t “real” ginger beer because it doesn’t contain yeast and hasn’t been fermented. The lack of fermentation means it doesn’t develop bubbles. But it has all the flavor of ginger beer. And because it isn’t effervescent, you can add it to a cocktail shaker with the other ingredients and shake it up. (We suppose you could add an effervescent liquid to a cocktail shaker if you want to live dangerously, but we don’t recommend it.)
- Want to use commercial ginger beer in this drink? Just follow the instructions in Step 2 of the recipe, but leave out the ginger beer (the commercial variety is effervescent, so you don’t want to shake it). Strain the contents of the shaker into an ice-filled glass, then top with the ginger beer.
- This drink requires dry gin (the London dry style is what you usually see at liquor stores). Saunders makes the drink with Tanqueray gin, so that’s what we use. But any decent dry gin will produce a worthy drink.
- Audrey Saunders has been mixing drinks since the 1990s. Early in her career, she worked with legendary bartender Dale DeGroff. She invented the Gin-Gin Mule in 2000 while working at the Beacon Restaurant on 58th Street in New York City. In 2005, she opened the innovative Pegu Club in New York’s Soho district. Sadly, the Pegu Club closed earlier this year, a victim of the Covid-19 business downturn.
“Wow,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Never knew I’d enjoy the kick of a mule.”
“This drink was mint to be,” I said. “Perfect cocktail to gin up on a hot day.”
“That’s a spirited answer,” said Mrs K R. “Speaking of which, this drink definitely lifts mine.”
“Ah, but your glass is empty now,” I said, “Looks like you’ve gin there, done that. Shall I bring you a refill?”
“Of course,” said Mrs K R. “Why be stubborn?”
Guess I’ll gin and bear it.
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