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The Harlem Mule-the perfect way to celebrate Add Bates and mid-century modern Harlem

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

The Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem created a bourbon riff on the Moscow Mule which they called the Harlem Mule. The recipe below is my interpretation of their cocktail. This is another one of those special cocktails, that is refreshing in summer and warming in winter so it's perfect for this unseasonably warm weather we're having. I can easily imagine Add Bates and his brother Leonard enjoying one of these after a hot day in the workshop.

Did you miss the post on Add Bates? You can link to it here.

For the Moscow Mule or any variation of it, quality ginger beer is critical. At the Red Rooster they make their own ginger beer, but any spicy ginger beer will work. As with any relative of the Mule, it should be served in a copper mug. Like many cocktails, there are many versions as to how the cocktail came to be served in a copper mug.

Origin Story

It is generally thought that John Martin invented the Moscow Mule in 1941 with the help of a bartender at the Cock and Bull in Los Angeles. John Martin had purchased Smirnoff in the thirties but his investment wasn't making any money because Americans preferred beer or whiskey. (maybe because vodka has no flavor but I digress,) Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock and Bull, was having difficulty unloading a large purchase of ginger beer, and so the two experimented with combining their two duds with a lime (lime pretty much makes everything better) and came up with a bonafide hit. According to cocktail historian Dr. Cocktail, the Moscow Mule was a riff on the Gin Buck which is made with gin and ginger beer. So the Harlem Mule is a riff on a riff. But where did the mug come in you ask? Enter a woman. Whether or not it was a recent Russian immigrant who just happened to immigrate with 2000 copper mugs, or someone's girl friend who had inherited a copper manufacturing business, all we know for sure is that it tastes better in a copper mug. Maybe the Cock and Bull was out of glass mugs on that fateful day. For a more extensive history of the Moscow Mule ( and so many other cocktails) check out

"Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails" by Ted Haigh a.k.a. Dr. Cocktail. Ingredients:

3 oz. ginger beer

2 oz. bourbon

1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice Chill a copper mug in your freezer while squeezing that lime. Fill the mug with ice and pour in the bourbon and lime juice. Add the ginger beer float on top. Garnish with a lime wheel.

*The Red Rooster uses basil in their version but I skipped it.

1 Comment

Unknown member
Nov 01, 2022

Great post! Maybe the Harlem Mule is also hearkening back to the Horse's Neck cocktail, which is ginger ale, bourbon, and lemon peel?

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