As the originator of the Moscow Mule cocktail some 75 years ago, Smirnoff vodka invited bartenders and drink enthusiasts nationwide to participate in the Smirnoff Moscow Mule Challenge. Participants in the competition, which was presented by service industry jobs site Shiftgig and sponsored by Smirnoff, created their personal spin on the original Moscow Mule, a mix of vodka, lime juice and ginger beer traditionally served over ice in a copper mug.
Contests had to create their own Mule using Smirnoff No. 21, ginger (in any form) and local ingredients to give the recipe a creative and regional flair. More than 200 cocktails were submitted and evaluated by a judging panel that included Elayne Duff, the head mixologist for Diageo Wine and Spirits, Charlotte, NC-based mixologist Bob Peters and King Cocktail Dale DeGroff. Judges selected the best cocktail recipes from five regions nationwide based on originality, balance, regional flair and taste.
The winning drink from the West was the Strawberry Hawaiian Mule, created by Jake Fascitelli of Brea, CA, which uses coconut water, strawberries and pineapple. From the south central region the winner was Kristie Jones of Little Rock, AR, with the Black Apple Mule, made with diced apple, black walnut bitters and fresh mint.
The midwest winner was the Motown Mule from Megan Dekok of Ferndale, MI, which incorporated Michigan tart cherries into the original cocktail. The Berry Cool Mule, with fresh blueberry syrup and fresh mint leaves, was the winning recipe for the northeast and created by Genymphas Higgs of Philadelphia.
And the Peachy Mango Mule pictured above, submitted by Kynyetta Lester, of Atlanta, took the top honors for the Mid-Atlantic region. It uses a basil-infused ginger syrup, peach puree, mango nectar and fresh basil; the full recipe is below. Each winner (and a guest) received round-trip airfare plus a two-night hotel accommodation in Chicago to attend a celebration in December, plus $1,000 to spend in the Windy City. Here’s the full recipe.
Peachy Mango Mule
1½ oz. Smirnoff 21 vodka
3 Basil leaves, torn
2 Lime wedges
1 ½ oz. Basil-infused ginger syrup*
1½ oz. Peach puree**
¾ oz. Mango nectar
Splash of Cock & Bull Ginger Beer
In a mixing glass, muddle basil leaves with juice of two lime wedges. Add vodka, along with mango nectar, ginger basil syrup and peach puree. Add ice, cap with mixing tin and shake vigorously. Pour contents into double Old Fashioned glass, top with fresh ice and a splash of ginger beer and stir gently. Garnish with basil leaf, peach slice and crystalized ginger
* For Basil-infused ginger syrup
½ cup Fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ½ cup Simple syrup
1 cup Basil leaves torn and loosely packed
Microwave ingredients for 5 minutes then allow basil and ginger to steep/macerate for 2 hours (covered) at room temperature. Loosely strain mixture before use.
** For Peach puree
2 cups Frozen peaches
½ cup Simple syrup
2 tsps. Lemon juice
¼ cup Cold water
Combine first three ingredients into a mixing bowl and microwave for 3 minutes. Add cold water and blend thoroughly.