Kentucky Cocktail Recipe

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Kentucky Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Kentucky cocktail, also known as the Kentucky Mule, is a variation of the classic Moscow Mule, which originated in the 1940s. The Kentucky Mule replaces the traditional vodka with bourbon, giving it a distinct Southern twist. This cocktail is perfect for those who enjoy the flavors of the American South and is often enjoyed during the Kentucky Derby.

  • The Kentucky Mule is said to have been created as a way to promote bourbon consumption.
  • It is often served in a copper mug, similar to the Moscow Mule, to keep the drink cold and enhance the flavors.
  • The Kentucky Mule has gained popularity in recent years, becoming a staple at many bars and restaurants.

How Kentucky Tastes?

The Kentucky cocktail has a bold, refreshing taste with a perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and sour flavors. The bourbon provides a rich, smoky base, while the ginger beer adds a spicy kick. The lime juice brings a tangy, citrus note to the drink, making it a well-rounded and satisfying cocktail.

Interesting facts about Kentucky

  • The Kentucky Mule is often associated with the Kentucky Derby, a famous horse race held annually in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • The use of bourbon in this cocktail highlights the spirit's rich history and connection to the state of Kentucky.
  • The copper mug commonly used to serve the Kentucky Mule is believed to enhance the flavors of the drink and keep it colder for longer.


A few good options for Kentucky are:

  • Brockmans
  • Silent Pool Gin
  • Hendrick's Gin

Learn everything on which Gin to choose


The backbone of the drink, bourbon brings a vanilla and caramel depth that's crucial. Using less could make the drink too light, more could overpower the balance. Without it, well, it wouldn't be a Kentucky cocktail now, would it?

Mary Mitkina

Ginger Beer

This adds a spicy kick and effervescence. If you skimp on it, you'll miss the zing and if you go overboard, the drink turns too spicy. No ginger beer? You'd lose the unique spiciness that defines the cocktail.

Emma Rose

Lime Juice

The zesty lime cuts through sweetness and balances our concoction. Use more, and your lips pucker up; use less, and the drink could cloy. No lime juice means losing that essential fresh tang.

Alex Green


It chills the drink and mellows the flavors slightly as it melts. Too much ice and you'll water down the character; too little and your Kentucky cocktail will run hot.

Mary Mitkina

Mint Leaves

Not just a pretty face, mint adds a refreshing aroma. Forget the mint, and you lose that fresh nose-tickling sensation. Overdo it, and your drink might taste like toothpaste.

Emma Rose

Garnish: Lime Wedge

A visual cue and a hint of extra tartness for those who seek it. Without the garnish, the drink loses a touch of its flair and interactive appeal.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Kentucky Drink

  1. Fill a copper mug or highball glass with ice.
  2. Pour 2 oz of bourbon over the ice.
  3. Add 0.5 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice.
  4. Top with 4 oz of ginger beer and gently stir to combine.
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • Use high-quality bourbon for the best flavor.
  • Chill the copper mug before using it to keep the cocktail colder for longer.
  • Use fresh lime juice instead of bottled for a fresher, more vibrant flavor.

Perfect Pairings


  • Grilled Chicken Skewers: The smoky flavor complements the bourbon's richness.
  • Pulled Pork Sliders: Pairing well with the ginger beer's spiciness and the lime's acidity.

Main Courses

  • Barbecue Ribs: The tangy and sweet sauce matches the cocktail's bold flavors.
  • Smoked Brisket: The cocktail cuts through the fattiness and enhances the meat's smoky taste.


  • Lemon Tart: The lime juice in the cocktail echoes the tartness in the dessert.
  • Ginger Spice Cookies: These cookies share the ginger note with the ginger beer in the drink.

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What you could change in Kentucky

  • Bourbon: Can be replaced with another type of whiskey or dark rum.
  • Ginger Beer: Can be substituted with ginger ale for a less spicy flavor.
  • Lime Juice: Lemon juice can be used for a different citrus twist.

Explore all drinks starting with K here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Kentucky

Swap the bourbon for a smoky Scotch. It gives an intense smoky flavor, ideal for those who want a bolder, more robust cocktail.

Kentucky Mule

Add a shot of apple cider for a seasonal twist. The apple's tartness will add a fruity layer complementing the lime and ginger flavors.

Spiced Kentucky

Infuse the bourbon with cinnamon and cloves before mixing the cocktail. This will give a warm, spiced note, perfect for chilly evenings.

In case you forgot basics how to make Kentucky

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Kentucky

What is the best time to enjoy a Kentucky cocktail?

Traditionally, the Kentucky cocktail is enjoyed during the Kentucky Derby. However, this refreshing drink can be enjoyed anytime, be it a warm summer afternoon or a cozy winter evening.

Can I make a non-alcoholic version of the Kentucky cocktail?

Absolutely, just replace the bourbon with a non-alcoholic ginger beer or a blend of apple, pear, and peach juice for a sweeter spin.

What is the origin of the use of copper mugs in serving cocktails?

Copper mugs became a staple for serving Moscow Mules and Kentucky cocktails due to a marketing stunt in the 1940s. Besides being a great marketing tool, the copper mug is believed to keep the drink cold and enhance the flavors.

Are there any other variations of the Kentucky cocktail?

Yes, there are several variations of the Kentucky cocktail, such as adding a dash of bitters, swapping lime juice for lemon or orange, or even infusing the bourbon with seasonal fruits.

Why is bourbon often associated with Kentucky?

Kentucky is renowned for its bourbon production which dates back to the 18th century. The state's unique combination of climate, corn abundance, and pure limestone filtered water provides ideal conditions for making bourbon.

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