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The Mule is a super popular cocktail with countless variants. From vodka and gin to whiskey and rum, everyone has their take. Most people love the mule because it’s sweet, crisp, and fizzy, making it eminently drinkable. What if we can keep it fun and easy to drink while dialing the flavours up a notch? Well, that’s just what I plan on doing with the Mezcal Mule.
If you like mixed drinks that pack a tasty punch but still go down easy, check out my spritz and white wine sangria recipes as well! I also have more Mezcal riffs on classic cocktails, like the Negroni.
From Moscow to Mezcal Mule
We start with the Moscow Mule. The name is a bit of a misnomer, as it was made and branded in the USA. The marriage of vodka and ginger beer helped both drinks flourish, as they were not very popular in 1930s and 40s America. The iconic copper mug goes back to Sophie Berezinsky, the daughter of a Russian copper maker, who immigrated from the USSR. I’m not sure if this is a marketing ploy, but it’s a neat story.
Mezcal is an interesting spirit. It comes from the Mexican province of Oaxaca (read: wa-HA-ka). Starting with agave, like tequila, it undergoes a different distilling and aging process. It is smoked over wood and charcoal and traditionally distilled in clay pots. Smooth like an aged tequila with oak notes, each sip is a journey of sweet, tart, earthen, and zesty flavours.
The Mezcal that I’m using is called Sombra. It means shadow in Spanish. I think this is a fair description, if understated. The smoke reminds me of an Islay scotch, though it’s not the same sensation.
First, you can’t smell it all. The nose is silky, sweet, earthy, and slightly tropical or “funky” like a Jamaican rum. The smoke only activates in the back of your mouth, and fades not long after you gulp. It’s ethereal, a mix of tangy and charred feelings that really tingle the mouth before subsiding and allowing the agave to come back full circle.
I could go on forever about how much I love Mezcal, but I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say, once I tried it, I was hooked. And I was skeptical at first because in my university years drinking too much tequila in one sitting had left me afraid. I’m so glad I approached it again with a (mostly) sober mind this time.
Take 1: The Traditional Mule
This drink is a simple riff on the classic mule, which uses vodka, lime, and ginger beer. Here we’ll replace the vodka with Mezcal. The result is a drink that has a little more punch to it, which is great considering the sweetness and natural bite we get from the ginger beer.
Some mules muddle lime at the start, but for a crisper taste we are going to use fresh lime juice. Just add Mezcal, lime juice, and ice, then stir. Top with ginger beer, more lime and cayenne for a spicy finish. No copper mug for me, as I wanted to show you the drink up close, but feel free to use one for yourself if you like.
The drink is spicy, powerful, and crisp up front. It mellows to a sweet, citrusy, and earthen profile. The pepper on top accentuates the mezcal nicely. It has many of the qualities of a refined spirit, while also going down smoothly like a classic mule should.
Those in both camps – wanting a strong drink, but also something sweet and refreshing – will be pleased. This drink offers both, starting off with a tingly spice, ginger bite, and plenty of sweetness. It moves to tangy and smoky from the Mezcal, and ends smoothly. I won’t fault you if you stop here and don’t explore the Mezcal Mule deeper…
…However, I will be, so let’s move on to the next take.
Take 2: The Passionfruit Mule
First, a disclaimer. This is not my original recipe, and I only named it this way to easily distinguish it from the other mule. That said, it is smooth, syrupy, complex, and all around adventure in your mouth.
I’ve seen this re-posted on a lot of food, drink, and lifestyle blogs, so I don’t feel bad sharing it here as well. Credit for this drink goes back to a book named Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico, written by Ron Cooper and Chantal Martineau. As a side note, I highly recommend looking into this book if Mezcal interests you. You’ll discover that Mexico has as much to offer the world of spirits and cocktails as does Scotch whisky, American speakeasies, or Italian amaros.
I was both intrigued and a little overwhelmed when I first read the recipe. The ingredient list seemed very interesting, but also like it might be a little painful to get. Exploring this recipe forced me to experiment with passionfruit. As you can see, I made a passionfruit purée by simply blending the insides and adding a little sugar-water.
The drink is honestly next level, and I don’t say that lightly. Every flavour is rich, playing around like a concert in your mouth. Yet the whole is very smooth and refined. The Mezcal and lime add a lot of tangy and tart flavour. The cucumber and agave add a vegetal, fresh sweetness that accentuate the Mezcal’s natural earthiness. The passionfruit makes it silky smooth, and the garnishes give it bite. A wisp of smoke hangs just underneath it all.
All in all, a perfect cocktail in my books, since it treads so much territory and does so gracefully. Why not give it a try? Pick one that you like from the two below and tell me what you think.
- Juicer for fresh lime juice
- Cutting board and knife
- Bar spoon or other long spoon
- Blender (for passionfruit purée)
- Muddler or wooden spoon (for the passionfruit mule)
- Cocktail shaker (for the passionfruit mule)
- Hawthorne strainer (for the passionfruit mule)
- Serving glasses with ice
1. Traditional Mule
- 2 oz (60 ml) Mezcal
- 1/2 oz (15 ml) lime juice freshly squeezed
- 4 oz (120 ml) ginger beer
- lime wheel to garnish
- sprinkle cayenne pepper to garnish
2. Passionfruit Mule
- 1 & 1/2 oz (45 ml) Mezcal
- 1 oz (30 ml) ginger beer
- 3/4 oz (22.5 ml) passionfruit purée
- 3/4 oz (22.5 ml) lime juice
- 1/2 oz (15 ml) agave syrup
- 4 cucumber slices 3 to muddle, 1 to garnish
- 1 piece candied ginger to garnish; a regular ginger slice works too if you don't have candied ginger
- sprinkle cayenne pepper to garnish
For the Passionfruit Purée
- 1 passionfruit or more if you want to save some for later
- 1/2 oz (15 ml) simple syrup per passionfruit used or you can just use water for a lighter flavour
- Prepare a serving glass with a good amount of ice. Squeeze out some fresh lime juice if you can.
- Measure and pour Mezcal and lime juice into the glass with ice. Stir well to chill the liquid.
- Top with ginger beer and stir again lightly to mix around the flavours a bit.
- Garnish with lime wheel and generous portion of cayenne pepper. Enjoy!
- Muddle 3 cucumber slices in the bottom of a shaker tin by pressing on them to release juices.
- Add Mezcal, lime, agave, and passionfruit purée to the shaker, along with some ice cubes. Seal and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
- Prepare a serving glass with ice. Unseal the shaker, place the strainer over top of the shaker cup, and pour liquid into the serving glass. Leave the muddled cucumber to eat or discard.
- Top the drink off with some ginger beer. Stir gently to mix around flavours.
- Garnish with remaining cucumber slice, candied ginger, and a light sprinkle of cayenne powder. Enjoy!
- Scoop out the insides of the passionfruit and dump them into the blender. Add a bit of water or simple syrup to help make the purée more liquid and easier to work with.
- This next part is up to you. If you want to keep the seeds in tact, mix for only a couple seconds. This will leave the purée more pulpy. Otherwise, you can blend for longer, which will crush the seeds and make for a more grainy texture and darker colour.
Thanks for stopping by! If you like this kind of article, why not check out some of my other cocktail recipes as well?