Regular contributor Brian Prugalidad went about this cocktail in the opposite direction most bartenders do. Instead of thinking about what ingredients he wanted to use, or what he wanted his drink to taste like, Prugalidad came up with a name and set about creating a drink centered around that idea. And with a name like ‘Mule as a Cucumber’, how could you not come up with something tasty? What he came up with was so impressive, the cool kids at Tales of the Cocktail (in partnership with The Moscow Copper Company, and Smirnoff for the Year of the Mule and the 75th Anniversary of the Moscow Mule) have decided to put in their upcoming coffee table book, so be on the lookout for that.
But enough about that- let’s discuss the reason we’re all here together…delicious booze! Prugalidad took a classic Mule and added some of his magic to come up with this drink. The beauty of his cocktail is the balance between what, on first glance, would appear to be incongruous flavors (Black pepper and lime juice? That’s crazy talk! Ginger and chipotle? This is getting way out of hand!). The Mule as a Cucumber is like an Olympic Juggler going for gold with eight different balls of flavor. Wait, what? Juggling isn’t in the Olympics? Riiiiight, next you’re going to tell me that walking fast in a circle is an Olympic sport. What’s that you say? It is?! Now you’re just being silly.
A quick note on form- a Mule cocktail, by definition, contains ginger and carbonation. While the classic was made with ginger beer, many of the top programs in the land these days are opting for ginger syrup and soda water. This allows for not only a more variable cocktail, but also allows the maker to control gingerosity (totally made that word up). This is the route Prugalidad takes, which allows more variation with ingredients like his black pepper syrup and Ancho Reyes (we’ve talked about it before, but in case you don’t remember- it’s chipotle liqueur, and it’s delicious.). Normally we spend the next paragraph geeking out on flavor profiles and yapping about how balance is the most important thing in both cocktails and life, but today we have to get back to watching ‘Merica dominate the Olympics, so here’s the skinny:
Mule as a Cucumber
1.5 oz Vodka (Prugalidad uses Aylesbury Duck, we find no fault in that)
1/2 oz Ancho Reyes
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/8 oz black pepper syrup* (see below for recipe)
3/8 oz ginger syrup** (see below for recipe)
Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
Pinch of salt
2 slices of English cucumber
Fever Tree Soda
Muddle your cucumbers up and add everything but your soda water. Shake it up like your Phelps going for medal number 27. Add soda and strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Boom. You win. If you want to watch Prugalidad make the drink, to make sure you’re doing it right- you can check him out below, but you should know…he’s married, so don’t go fallin’ in love.
*Black Pepper syrup
heat 1/2 cup whole black peppercorns and 2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes on medium high heat and toast for 30 seconds.shaking often to prevent burning.
Add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat.
Cool to room temperature, then strain the syrup.
Process ginger to make ginger juice.
Add 3 parts sugar to 2 parts ginger juice and blend till smooth