With an array of custom mixers available for home and professional bars, even the simplest cocktails entail choices. The Moscow Mule, created by Smirnoff in 1941, has just three ingredients: vodka, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice.
Although vodka is generally perceived as tasteless, we discovered months back that different spirits brands absolutely affect the taste of a Moscow Mule. What, then, would happen if we stuck with one vodka and tried making our drink with different mixers?
Plenty, as it turns out! The ginger beer category ranges from sweet, soda-like concoctions to bracingly spicy potions. Historic Caribbean labels like Barritt’s sit alongside newer launches like Brooklyn Crafted. Some options are widely available, while others are only available to those with specialty cocktail supply stores.
We gathered a panel of professionals to taste more than 10 varieties and debate our favorites. In the name of tradition we used Smirnoff vodka in every Mule.
5. Q Drinks Spectacular Ginger Beer
Average price: $5.99 for four 12-ounce cans.
4. Barritt’s Ginger Beer
A spritzy, soda-like option, this Bermudan bottle is ideal for those who like their Moscow Mules on the lighter side.
Average price: $6.99 for four 12-ounce bottles.
3. Top Note Ginger Beer
Noticeably darker in color than other ginger beers, most of our tasters appreciated the earthy, herbal notes in this option. Others longed for a touch more sweetness, making this a good option for those who prefer a more savory Mule.
Average price: $6.99 for four 8-ounce bottles.
2. DG Genuine Jamaican Ginger Beer
This brightly carbonated ginger beer has an herbal nose and spicy fire on the palate. Its sweetness is balanced, making it a crowd-pleasing choice.
Average price: $0.87 for one 12-ounce bottle.
1. Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer
Our top-ranked Mule is more savory than sweet, with a herbaceous nose that reminded some of “a really great Thai salad.” Unlike some of the spiciest bottles, however, our panelists appreciated the balanced sweetness in this Mule. “Wait. Can I have the rest of this?” one panelist asked after tasting.
Average price: $6.99 for four 6.8-ounce bottles.