The broad family of tall, fizzy drinks that includes the Collins, the buck, the fizz and the rickey is essential to have in the summer arsenal because of the drinks' superb cooling powers. Most of these drinks are incredibly simple to make, but there are also the complex cousins, the drinks that may throw in an extra ingredient or two to rev up the flavor and character. Here's one of the best recent formulations that fits into this fizzy family: the Gin Gin Mule.
Developed around a decade ago by Pegu Club owner Audrey Saunders, the Gin Gin Mule now appears on the cocktail menus at dozens of bars around the world, for one basic reason: it's absolutely freakin' delicious. This drink takes the basic "mule"—pretty much the same thing as a buck, which is a drink with liquor, ginger ale or ginger beer and lemon or lime juice —and adds a couple of tweaks. First, fresh mint is added to the drink, which seems to magnify its cooling properties. Second, Saunders developed the drink using house-made ginger beer, which has a spicy bite difficult to find in commercial brands.
Not that you can't go at this using a bottled ginger beer (not ginger ale, which is a much milder kinda thing). If you take this approach, you may want to adjust the amount of simple syrup to account for the sweetness in your ginger beer (you're just going to have to go by taste, here, depending on the brand you're using—bottled ginger beers are all over the map when it comes to sugar). You'll also want to go as spicy as you can with the ginger beer: Blenheim is the spiciest I've found, and there are some ginger beers from Jamaica I've come across in specialty shops that convey the desired bite. If you can't find a suitably spicy ginger beer, one way to amp up the ginger flavor is to muddle a slice or two of fresh ginger in the shaker before adding the mint, then proceed as before.
Oh, and for gin: reach for something with a little juniper backbone, such as Tanqueray or Beefeater; these drier, old-school London drys stand up nicely in tall, citrusy drinks like this.
- 10 mint leaves
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup (or to taste)
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 2 ounces chilled ginger beer
- garnish: lime wedge and mint sprig
In a cocktail shaker, lightly muddle mint leaves with simple syrup and lime juice.
Add gin and fill with ice; shake gently until chilled (you don't want to smash the mint to smithereens), about 10 seconds. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice, add ginger beer and stir. Garnish with lime wedge or mint sprig, or both.
Cocktail shaker, cocktail strainer