I’ve always looked askance at premixed beverages, and with good reason. But ‘Merican Mule raises the bar.
I tend to view canned cocktails with grave skepticism. As a home bartender, the process of making a drink brings me as much joy as the act of drinking one. And as a frequenter of cocktail bars, I’ve grown accustomed to fresh ingredients, premium spirits, and that certain je ne sais quois that a skilled bartender can bring to nearly any drink.
The thought of trading that alchemy for the convenience of a can is anathema to me. Plus, I assume that whatever “cocktail” is inside will be a pale imitation of the real thing, propped up by mounds of sugar and artificial ingredients. And this isn’t mere snobbery on my part – I still remember the heyday of “malternatives,” and I admit I instinctively lump newer premixed beverages in with abominations such as Smirnoff Ice and Twisted Tea.
That said, it was with a mix of curiosity and trepidation that I decided to give ‘Merican Mule a try.
‘Merican Mule is a venture started by three friends who moved to Southern California, became enamored of the Moscow Mule cocktail, and decided the vodka-lime-ginger-beer combo could benefit from some portability (because if you’ve ever mixed up a cocktail at the beach, you know it can be a cumbersome affair).
Since developing and canning their flagship Moscow Style mule, the ‘Mericans have expanded their line to include a Mexican Style mule with tequila and a Tropical Style mule with rum. All three variations boast all-natural ginger, “premium distilled spirits,” and freshly squeezed fruit. Best of all? None are made with malt.
So…how are they?
I’m pleased to say we’ve come a long way since the dawn of Zima. The cloying sweetness and aspartame aftertaste that were hallmarks of the malternative class are refreshingly absent from ‘Merican Mule. Each variety is smooth and drinkable and tastes like it was designed by someone who truly does appreciate a good cocktail.
Still, the results vary.
Mexican Style: Pretty good. Drinking tequila from a can is equal parts jarring, novel, and, with each sip, increasingly pleasant. This one’s a little sweet for my taste, but the tequila, ginger, and lime work well together. If you handed it to me in a copper mug and told me you made it yourself, I’d have no reason to doubt you.
Tropical Style: Now we’re talkin’. This mix of rum, ginger, and pineapple juice is like a tiki drink in a can. Flavorful and completely crushable, the tropical mule is the stuff of pool parties and beach days.
Moscow Style: Somewhat ironically, the flagship is the only real stumble. I found it bland and unbalanced; think Moscow Mule Lite. One of the things I enjoy most about a good Moscow Mule is the spicy bite of the ginger – a quality that’s missing here. It’s smooth and easy drinking, but it lacks the punch of its namesake.
I’m not putting my bar spoon and shaker in storage just yet. But I’m willing to put aside my skepticism.
‘Merican Mule raises the bar by which I’d judge a premixed cocktail (though that bar was pretty low), and they do it by keeping things simple. The contents don’t taste artificial or contrived, nor are they overloaded with unnecessary flavors. The Moscow Style mule didn’t do it for me, but I’d gladly knock back a few Tropical Style mules at a summertime cookout.
Note: I received complimentary cans of ‘Merican Mule for the purpose of writing a product review. No one from or associated with ‘Merican Mule influenced this content, nor was I compensated for writing it.
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