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What Is A Buck Cocktail And How Does It Differ From A Mule?

gin buck cocktail
gin buck cocktail - Micaela Fiorellini/Shutterstock

If you enjoy the combination of ginger beer (or ale) and citrus you've likely ordered a mixed drink called a buck or one of its many creative variations. A "buck" was a prohibition-era moniker for drinks that combined spirits with ginger beer and lime, and the classic combination is listed together as far back as Jerry Thomas' 1887 Bartender's Guide. And for good reason -- the spicy ginger and pop of citrus acidity elevate almost every spirit.

Gin was the popular booze in 1920s America, and the Gin Buck was supreme. Some say the term buck comes from the kick provided by adding gin to what was a simple sparkling ginger and lemon soft drink, but there's no consensus among mixologists on how it acquired the distinctive name. What's more clear are the dozens of variations of the drink you might not realize are branches of the buck family, such as the vodka-based Moscow Mule, which is a buck cocktail that's usually served in a decorative copper mug.

Read more: The 40 Absolute Best Cocktails That Feature Only 2 Ingredients

A Mule By Any Other Name Might Just Be A Buck

Moscow mule in copper mug
Moscow mule in copper mug - Lukas Gojda/Shutterstock

The origin of the name "Moscow Mule", exactly where it was concocted, and why it's in that copper mug have also been disputed over the years, but the ingredients speak for themselves. The combination of ginger beer (or less spicy ginger ale), citrus, and spirits is what places the Moscow Mule neatly in the buck family. Many of the drinks in this category are given names reflecting the origin of their spirits: the Kentucky Mule has whiskey, and the Jamaican Buck is a rum drink.

Understanding how these drinks are named can help you narrow down your chosen tipple from a long and complicated bar menu. If you're looking for a bright and snappy ginger-lime mixed drink, find a buck or mule on the menu. The name may give you a clue to the spirit, for example, the Kentucky Buck is a whiskey-based buck with the addition of strawberries. You'd be right in assuming there's tequila in a Mexican mule, too. No matter what it's called, the refreshing buck and mule drinks are classics with a kick we love.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.