Drink of the Week: My Brilliant Moscow Mule

I do love me some ginger beer, so when I discovered the Moscow Mule last year I thought I’d found my perfect summer drink. (Actually my perfect summer drink is anything with ice and alcohol, but perhaps there are many levels of perfect.) The zip of ginger beer, the kick of vodka, a hint of lime — delightful on a hot summer evening. I’m less excited by the classic way to serve a Moscow Mule, which is in a copper mug: I don’t like all the condensation on the outside, and some such mugs are hard on the mouth. But serve this drink in a regular highball or double-rocks glass and I’m happy.

Now I’ve found a way to improve upon this perfection: homemade ginger beer. OK, so the recipe says ginger ale, but the resulting beverage has the sharper tang one expects in ginger beer. I don’t know what the technical difference is between the two — is it the type of yeast, as in regular beer and ale? No matter. I’m calling it ginger beer.

I mixed up my first liter of ginger beer the other night. I’ve always got empty seltzer bottles lying around, and it didn’t take long to get everything prepared and combined. I left the bottle sitting on the counter overngiht and by morning it was already tight with contained carbonation. I left it fermenting until night, upending it every few hours to ensure that the sugar was fully disolved and to watch the tiny bubbles float around. I put it in the fridge last night, in anticipation of having a Moscow Mule this evening.

But by noon my curiosity had gotten the better of me. I open the bottle slowly, then immediately reclosed it as it was clearly ready to spurt ginger beer all over the kitchen. Several open-close sequences later and I was able to get the top off — the contained carbonation forced out the wad of shredded ginger and lemon pulp that had collected at the bottle’s top, leaving only a little pulp in the bottle.

I’m delighted with the taste. Sharp as any fresh ginger, rather like the pickled stuff you get at sushi restaurants, plus a nice balance of sweetness. Perfect! Next batch I’ll be mashing the ginger more finely, possibly in the food processor, but all in all it’s a taste treat.

As I had work to do in the afternoon I stuck with the plain, barely alcoholic ginger beer for the first glass, but I mixed up a nice Moscow Mule moments ago. And it’s already time to make another ….


1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. lime juice
homemade ginger beer to fill

Fill a highball glass with ice and add ingredients. Stir lightly and enjoy.

(Homemade ginger ale recipe link thanks to Lifehacker.)