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What is in a white mule?

A white mule is a refreshing cocktail made with vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice. It’s light, bubbly, and perfect for warm weather. But what exactly makes a white mule so delicious? Let’s explore the ingredients that give this drink its signature flavor.


Vodka forms the alcoholic base of a white mule. As a neutral spirit, vodka allows the other ingredients to shine through. Typically made from grains or potatoes, vodka is distilled to remove flavor and color. This results in a clean, crisp tasting liquor. Standard vodkas around 40% ABV are commonly used, but you can always opt for a higher proof vodka for a bit more kick. Overall, the vodka provides a subtle backbone of booze that enhances but doesn’t overpower the ginger beer and lime.

Ginger Beer

Ginger beer brings the quintessential flavor to a mule cocktail. Unlike standard ginger ale, ginger beer has a much stronger ginger bite with pronounced spiciness. The intensity pairs perfectly with vodka and lime to create a refreshing, zesty drink. Ginger beer is traditionally made by fermenting ginger mixed with sugar and water. The fermentation produces carbonation, giving ginger beer its characteristic bubbles. Commercial ginger beers may be fermented or simply carbonated like soda. For white mules, opt for a non-alcoholic ginger beer so the drink doesn’t become too boozy. The spicy effervescence of ginger beer makes it the star of the show in a white mule.

Lime Juice

A squeeze of fresh lime juice adds the finishing touch to a white mule. Lime juice contributes a bright acidity that balances the sweetness of the ginger beer. It also provides a burst of fresh citrus flavor. Many mule recipes call for the inclusion of lime wedges or wheels for garnish. While attractive, these lime garnishes don’t add nearly as much flavor as freshly squeezed lime juice. For best results, juice half a lime into your white mule. The tart lime complements the other ingredients perfectly.

Simple Syrup

Some versions of a white mule incorporate simple syrup as an optional ingredient. Simple syrup is composed of equal parts sugar and water dissolved together. It introduces a touch of sweetness that can round out the drink. However, simple syrup isn’t a necessary component. The ginger beer alone usually provides adequate sweetness. But if you have a taste for something slightly sweeter, add 0.5 to 1 ounce of simple syrup to your white mule.

Preparing a White Mule

Now that we’ve reviewed the key components, let’s discuss how to make a white mule:

  1. Fill a copper mug or highball glass with ice
  2. Pour in 1.5 ounces of vodka
  3. Top with 4-6 ounces of chilled ginger beer
  4. Squeeze in the juice from 1/2 a lime
  5. Stir gently to combine
  6. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel (optional)

For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed lime juice instead of pre-bottled juice. Copper mugs are the traditional serving vessel, but any glass will work. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel to complete the look.

Experimenting with Flavors

One of the great aspects of a white mule is how adaptable it is to modifications. Once you have the basic format down, there are many ways to put a new spin on this drink. Consider the following twists:

  • Moscow Mule – Replace plain vodka with spiced vodka for a kicks of warmth and spice
  • Mexican Mule – Use tequila instead of vodka and swap lime for grapefruit
  • London Mule – Opt for gin rather than vodka and add a dash of bitters
  • Caribbean Mule – Light rum adds a touch of sweetness
  • Bloody Mule – Add a splash of tomato juice for a twist on a Bloody Mary

In addition to substituting the spirit, you can also swap out the ginger beer. Consider using ginger-infused kombucha, ginger ale, or ginger wine for some variety. Garnish with different citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, or lemon. The possibilities are nearly endless!

Enjoying Your White Mule

A white mule is meant to be slowly sipped and savored. Drink it on its own or enjoy it alongside a variety of dishes. The brightness pairs well with seafood, chicken, pork, salads, and Mexican food. It also makes a lovely apéritif before dinner. For a non-alcoholic spin, simply omit the vodka. While you’ll miss the kick of alcohol, the drink still offers a delicious blend of flavors. Children will love the “mock” version.

Whip up a big batch for your next party or barbecue. Pre-mix the vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer in a pitcher then pour into individual copper mugs or glasses filled with ice. Garnish with lime wedges. For an extra decadent touch, rim the glasses with sugar or salt. Your guests will rave over how refreshing white mules are!

The History of the Moscow Mule

While often called a white mule today, this drink traces its origins back to the Moscow mule. In the 1940s, the owner of a copper company was looking for ways to sell more copper mug products. He partnered with the owner of a struggling vodka brand and a bartender innovator. Together, they devised the Moscow mule – a combination of vodka, ginger beer, and lime served in copper mugs. The mule helped vodka take off in the US market while boosting sales of copper mugs. The smashing success of the Moscow mule paved the way for its lighter variation – the white mule – to be created.

The Benefits of Ginger

When you sip a white mule, you’re not just imbibing a delicious cocktail. The abundance of ginger provides some great health perks as well. Here are some of the ways the ginger in ginger beer enhances this drink:

  • Settles an Upset Stomach – Ginger is a long-used home remedy for nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Reduces Inflammation – Compounds in ginger exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that may ease joint pain, sore muscles, and swelling.
  • Boosts Immunity – Ginger contains antioxidants that support immune function and help fight illness.
  • Increases Circulation – Ginger stimulates blood flow, leading to healthier blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
  • Improves Digestion – Ginger encourages the production of saliva, bile, and gastric juices to facilitate better digestion.

Of course, you’d need to consume very large amounts of ginger beer to obtain truly significant health benefits. But it’s reassuring to know the white mule offers more than just great taste! The anti-nausea effects make ginger beer the perfect choice for curing hangovers as well.

Potential Downsides of White Mules

Despite their appeal, white mules do come with a few potential downsides to consider:

  • Alcohol Content – The vodka provides a hearty kick of alcohol. Too many mules may lead to intoxication and impaired motor skills.
  • High in Sugar – Store-bought ginger beers often contain lots of added sugars, so watch your consumption if diabetic.
  • Acidic – The lime juice gives this drink an acidic pH, which could aggravate heartburn or GERD.
  • Carbonation – The bubbles from ginger beer may cause bloating, gas, or abdominal discomfort in some individuals.
  • Interactions with Medications – The alcohol could potentially interact with certain medications.

Pregnant women, people with certain medical conditions, and those on medication should exercise caution. Otherwise, white mules are perfectly safe to enjoy in moderation as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make a white mule without alcohol?

Absolutely! Omitting the vodka results in a refreshing “mocktail” take on the white mule. You’ll still get the full flavors from the ginger beer and lime without the alcohol.

What’s the difference between a Moscow mule and a white mule?

A Moscow mule contains vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice just like a white mule. However, many Moscow mule recipes also include a splash of cranberry juice for a tart, fruity twist. Moscow mules also frequently use spiced vodka rather than plain vodka.

Are white mules gluten-free?

Plain vodka and lime juice are inherently gluten-free. Some ginger beers may contain gluten while others do not. Check the label to determine if your preferred ginger beer is gluten-free. Opt for a brand made without wheat, barley, or rye.

Can you use ginger ale instead of ginger beer?

Technically you can use ginger ale, but the flavor will be much weaker. Ginger ale contains less ginger than brewed ginger beer. The drink may end up overly sweet. For the true white mule experience, we recommend using non-alcoholic ginger beer.

How long does a white mule keep for?

Pre-mixed white mules without alcohol will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. The lime juice may cause some deterioration in flavor if stored too long. For best results, make individual white mules to order. Leftover vodka and ginger beer will last for months on their own.


With its refreshing blend of vodka, spicy ginger, and bright citrus, the white mule offers a mouthwatering choice for cocktail hour. The versatility of this drink leaves plenty of room to channel your inner mixologist. Sip a classic white mule or give it your own spin. However you take it, a white mule never fails to delight and refresh.