Whiskey Cocktail Hour: Get Behind The Mule

One of the best winter cocktails is also one of the simplest. The Hot Toddy is a staple cocktail in a lot of people’s arsenal during the colder months of the year. It’s actually a cocktail that I was not super fond of until the last year or two. My main issue with the drink is that it often tastes like watered down whiskey. My answer to this dilemma is to use tea in place of water. It adds an extra depth to the flavor profile and makes it more interesting as a drink.

For this variation I wanted to take a combination of flavors that are super familiar for a lot of people, namely those you’d find in a mule. For anyone that’s had a mule in the heat of the summer, you know that the combination of lime and ginger are spicy and refreshing. So why not take that chuggable summer drink and turn it into a delicious winter warmer? And though this cocktail is made with Irish Whiskey, you could make it with any number of base spirits, just like it’s cold cousin, the mule. For those that are not familiar with the music of Tom Waits, that’s where this drink got its name. As a big fan myself, his album Mule Variations seemed like an appropriate source for a drink name.

The mule cocktail actually falls into a larger drink category called a buck. The buck is a drink that uses either ginger ale or ginger beer, citrus, and a base spirit. Supposedly the buck got its name from adding a shot of whiskey to the popular nonalcoholic drink the Horse’s Neck, which consisted of ginger ale and lemon juice. The addition of the whiskey gave the horse a “kick”, thus a bucking horse, which was then shorted to just a buck.

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For this mule I wanted to use an Irish whiskey and one of my favorites of late is the Slane Irish Whiskey. It’s triple cask finish lends a complex nose and finish and give a beautiful depth that I haven’t seen in a lot of whiskies at this price point. It’s fruit and spice notes pair perfectly with the lime and ginger for a well-rounded and extra quaffable toddy. On these grey winter days, we all need a little something to remind us of warmer days to come, and that’s exactly what this drink does for me. Cheers!

image via Emily Ross Johnson/The Whiskey Wash

Get Behind The Mule

  • 5 oz Ginger Tea
  • 1 1/2 oz Slane Irish Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz Honey Syrup (equal parts honey & hot water)
  • Lime wheel with clove studs for garnish

Brew your tea and remove the teabag after steeping for 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Garnish with the clove-studded lime wheel or some pieces of sliced ginger. Whatever your spicy little heart desires!


Emily Ross-Johnson

Emily is a bit of a Jane of All Trades. She started her career as an opera singer in NYC, and over time gravitated to the Food & Beverage Industry. Over the span of her professional life she has performed at Carnegie Hall, founded her own Whiskey Society, represented numerous...