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The Best Vodka Brands for Making a Moscow Mule
I’m a Moscow Mule mug guy through and through. Some people prefer a champagne-based cocktail, a classically dry Martini, or something tinged with tequila and madness. Others prefer something simple and sweet, like a gin and pineapple juice or soda and grenadine.
Give me the crispness of premium vodka, ginger beer, and throw in some ice, fresh lime, and simple syrup. A Mule done right can work in any situation, from bow tie and suit at a swanky get together right through to sandals and cargo pants on a beach in the middle of nowhere.
After being created during WWII, the Moscow Mule has grown to become one of the world’s most popular cocktails. It’s simple to make, easy to drink, and suits a wide variety of consumer tastes.
The following article shows you how to make a traditional Moscow Mule, 10 great vodkas to utilize when making a Moscow Mule, and throws in a few individual variations that can take your cocktail craft to the next level.
How to Make a Moscow Mule Cocktail
The following Moscow Mule recipe creates a simple, easy to drink cocktail using ingredients you can utilize from your home bar or refrigerator.
For a sweeter and/or tangier flavor, utilize a grain to glass premium vodka or flavored vodka combined with syrup and bitters and a spicy ginger beer with great carbonation to suit your personal taste.
- 1 oz vodka
- 2/3 oz fresh lime juice
- Dash of bitters
- Ginger beer (we recommend Fever Tree Ginger Beer)
- Crushed Ice
Optional: Simple syrup, ginger syrup
Garnish: Lime wedge, fresh mint
Add fresh lime juice, bitters, simple syrup/ginger syrup (if needed), and vodka to a classical cocktail shaker or mixing glass and stir thoroughly.
Strain mix into a copper mug or highball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with ginger beer, add mint, and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve straight away.
While vodka is the established spirit for use in this classic cocktail, you can easily make a Moscow Mule variation using gin, tequila, or Mezcal as your base spirit. If sticking with vodka, you can remove the syrup and bitters from the equation to keep things simple with only ginger beer, lime juice, and one of the vodka expressions below making up the traditional Moscow Mule.
1. Smirnoff Vodka
The Smirnoff brand created the Moscow Mule cocktail during World War II, so it has rightfully earned its place at the top of our list. Globalization has opened the world of vodka to all manner of new entrants, however, Smirnoff remains a tried-and-true brand popular throughout bars, clubs, and home bars everywhere.
Smirnoff vodka began production in 1864 and has grown into the most popular selling Vodka brand worldwide. Its familiar red label is likely to be in the shot chute at your local haunt.
The premium alcohol content in Smirnoff is created by triple distillation from a blend of different grains, then filtered ten times through seven columns of charcoal. This process results in an exceptionally pure-tasting smooth spirit that’s easy on the palate and light on afterburn, fitting alongside spicy ginger beer or even dry ginger ale with ease.
2. Chase Potato Vodka
Chase is a boutique English potato vodka made from field to glass on a family farm. The company says it takes 250 Herefordshire potatoes to craft every bottle of Chase Potato Vodka.
Check out this cool 360-degree video of the Chase Distillery.
The commitment to singular crafting has resulted in vodka that has an aroma of sliced potato, a luscious mouthfeel with a nicely thick and oily texture, and earthy finish with little afterburn. Chase offers a tremendous base spirit for use in your Moscow Mule, or you can drink fresh chilled straight out of the freezer in a vodka soda with fresh lemon juice and pineapple.
3. Tito's Handmade Vodka
Tito’s is crafted in Austin, Texas, from a locally sourced corn base in small batches using old-fashioned pot stills like whisky or cognac. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is a cheap vodka that belies its price with brilliant production values, commitment to quality craft distillation, and a high-quality unique taste.
Tito’s embraces the burn of alcohol at the finish, however, it’s a clean heat complemented by flecks of black pepper rather than the nasty aftertaste of inferior quality booze. It’s certified gluten-free which suits even the vodka drinker with the strictest diet.
The emphasis on having a flavor profile makes Tito’s Handmade Vodka great for a traditional Moscow Mule, neat, or thrown into a vodka and cranberry juice, vodka tonic, or other mixed drink.
4. Suntory Haku Vodka
While well known for the love of fine whisky, cold beer, and hot sake, Japan has had a love affair with quality vodka cocktails going back nearly half a century. Moscow Mule variations are plentiful (and very strong) in Izakaya restaurant bars, Japanese pubs, and nightclubs. They rival the simple vodka and orange juice for popularity, whether knocked together cheaply for under $5 or made in the premium fashion at 10 x the price.
Quintessentially Japanese and made by worldwide giant Suntory, Haku means ‘white’ and pays tribute to its origin – 100% pure Japanese white rice. It’s crafted using the ideal of Jyunpaku – where perfect filtration is achieved through bamboo charcoal for a beautifully soft taste that’s notable for notes of rice on the nose, tongue, and finish.
If you’re looking to craft a premium vodka Moscow Mule with an interesting background tale or enjoy the Japanese commitment to quality alcohol craftsmanship, then Haku is a brilliant bottle to add to your collection.
5. Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
Poland has been producing their favorite vodka (a rye distillate) flavored with a particular grass eaten by Bison in the Bialowieza, for hundreds of years. The Bialowieza is Europe’s largest woods – straddling the border between Poland and Belarus.
Zu, as it’s known, is light yellow in color with an aroma of lemon citrus and herbs. A nutty flavor carries the otherwise pleasant vegetal palate and it possesses a nice creamy thickness.
Each bottle of the expression – which had been banned for nearly 30 years in the US – comes with a blade of Bison grass inside. The grassy rye fermentation makes Zu a natural for use in a classic Moscow Mule, or other cocktails built on spicier ingredients such as a Bloody Mary.
6. Absolut Vodka - Juice Strawberry Edition
A left-field choice for a Moscow Mule recipe, Absolut Vodka with strawberry juice made with fresh ginger, dry ginger ale, and a splash of lime is a tasty drink. It makes a personalized, more complex version of the cocktail that appeals to mixologists with a spark of ingenuity.
There are numerous ways to use flavored vodka in a Moscow Mule, but personally, I think a wildly different effect is the memorable way to go if moving away from the classic variety. Absolut Juice is also a low calorie, quality crafted spirit that works in other cocktails and drinks, or when sipped by itself in a large copper mug of crushed ice.
7. Purity Vodka
Purity Vodka is handcrafted in small batches from organic winter wheat and barley then distilled 34 times through a custom 600-liter copper pot still. Purity vodka uses the method of gently warming the ingredients until the vapor is collected and then refining the spirit meticulously until only the heart of the distillate is left to make it clear, clean, and with little aftertaste.
It’s a favorite vodka for use in a classic cocktail where there’s a complex layering of flavors. The alcohol content is almost a bystander, allowing the subtlety of spices, fresh lime, and a candied ginger garnish to take the lead in filling out the frosty Moscow Mule mug.
8. Snow Leopard Vodka
Snow Leopard is a great tasting vodka, but just as importantly, 15% of profits from every bottle sold is invested into the Snow Leopard Trust to protect one of the world’s most endangered species. Check out this short video from Snow Leopard vodka founder Stephen Sparrow on why he started the brand.
Snow Leopard Vodka is distilled six times from a variety of grains. There’s a great hint of anise on the nose and the palate features a creamy mouthfeel with lashings of pepper spice, giving it enough bite to make things interesting.
9. Grey Goose Vodka
Grey Goose is a popular grain vodka made using the finest French ingredients, including top-grade wheat from Picardie and limestone-filtered spring water from Gensac-La-Pallue. Grey Goose is beautifully clear in appearance, tasting fresh on the palate with just a hint of almond and grass notes through the palate and finish.
A premium vodka for any occasion, Grey Goose vodka features smoothness and exceptional taste and is suitable for a round of ice chilled shots or for use in premium vodka cocktail drinks and mixers.
10. Wyborowa Vodka
One of the cheaper Polish vodkas available (I’m inclined to drink them at every opportunity before anything else) Wyborowa means “selected.” Interestingly, it’s a rye grain vodka that’s smooth yet likes to keep the rye influence intact, which aligns nicely with the spicy flavor of a Moscow Mule or Bloody Mary. It’s also versatile for use in simple drinks like a vodka soda or vodka and orange juice.
If you’re a whiskey drinker that likes to dabble in cocktails, or a mixologist looking for a genuinely good cheap priced option to go further at party time, Wyboroka Vodka is an option well worth considering.