The Moscow Mule at the Highland Tap and Brew in Denver

Moscow Mule Revisited as the Denver Donkey

October 12, 2012

I received an invitation last month to attend the launch party for, the newest edition of the multi-city online magazine about imbibing in the United States. Along with fresh and original content about the drinking culture in the Mile-High City, Drink Denver features a searchable directory of the city’s best bars, a calendar of drink-related events, a happy hour finder and a location-aware mobile site.

“We create an up-to-date, easy-to-use, central location for everything drink-related in each city we enter. The fact that the beer, spirits and wine scenes in Denver are all so vibrant just makes our job here easier,” says Adam Schmidt, president & founder of The Drink Nation, adding, “The best part is that our site is free, for users and for bars.”

More than just an online presence with daily articles and posts, Drink Denver (@DrinkDenver) brings the city’s nightlife to the user. The location-aware mobile site — compatible with just about every smartphone — will find all the happy hours and drink specials available nearby, or in any chosen neighborhood. With the app, a user can quickly search for upcoming events, read articles about a specific bar or scene and even call a taxi for those times they want help getting home.

The launch party was scheduled to be held at Highland Tap & Burger (@HighlandTapDen) in the Highlands neighborhood that is situated just southeast of downtown Denver; in the past couple of years this older neighborhood has seen a burst of growth and renewal and now it’s where all the cool kids hang out.

I met some of the owners and to a person they were warm, gracious and generous. They’ve worked hard to put together a place that while still a casual atmosphere where people can catch a game, will also hold promise of something other than fried foods and processed meats. They also offer a wide selection of craft brews for their clients and I’m sure if I really liked beer that would mean a lot to me! As long as they keep this cocktail on the menu, I’m good. :) Thanks Juan, Katie, Kevin, Kris and Brad…your generosity and welcoming presence did not go unnoticed!

I knew from the original invitation that Highland Tap & Burger would be serving what they call the ‘Denver Donkey.’ It’s a fabulous take on the Moscow Mule but with a bit more sass. The Moscow Mule became popular during the 1950’s when our country was on a vodka craze. Invented in 1941 by John G. Martin of G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc., an East Coast spirits and food distributor, and Jack Morgan, President of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products (which produced ginger beer), the men decided one night to join two of their products with a splash of lime and the rest is history.

That Moscow attribution is simply a reflection of the notion that vodka is a Russian product. No more. The vodka used for this cocktail is Spring 44 Honey Vodka from Spring 44 Distilling, Inc (@Spring44spirits) in Loveland, CO. I had a lovely conversation with one of their owners who agreed to have a bottle of this fabulous vodka on site at the Highland Tap & Brew for me to pickup and that luck was doubled when the folks at Highland Tap & Brew gave me two of the gorgeous copper mugs they had engraved especially for this cocktail. I tried one onsite and was completely hooked. Line and sinker. I made two for this post and in something out of character, I did not share. Nope…all mine. Hic.

Of note; the first post that began my series of ‘The Friday Cocktail’ was a Vootbeer from Boulder Distillery in September of last year. In one of those strange twists of fate, the master distiller at Boulder Distillery is now serving in that same role at Spring 44; one Mr. Rob Masters…super knowledgeable, nice as they come and someone that taught me what little I know about distilling! I hope to make a field trip to their place one day soon and further my education. Samples are fun too. :)

This cocktail was so good I would certainly advocate that you try and find a source for the Spring 44 Honey Vodka; the scent of honey when opening the bottle let me know this wasn’t just in name only. One sip and I was sold. This is honey like you’ve never tasted before aside from literally stealing a spoonful of that wildflower honey you bought at the artisan shop. Take a peek at this video on Westword about the trek the owners make to get their spring water…again, not in name only! Barring that? I would add a couple of drops of honey to the mix if using a ‘regular’ vodka. It won’t be the same though; find this vodka!

Moscow Mule Revisited as the Denver Donkey
Prep time
Total time
A refreshing and bracingly cold beverage...suitable from Moscow to Denver.
Serves: 1 cocktail
  • 2 oz Spring 44 Honey Vodka
  • ½ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Ginger Beer (I find mine at Cost Plus World Market), chilled
  • Lime for garnish
  1. Fill a mug with ice; add the vodka and lime juice and stir.
  2. Fill the mug with the cold ginger beer and stir gently; garnish with a lime wedge and serve with a straw. ( I just LOVE these glass straws!)
There is something about that copper mug but if you don't have them then use a cocktail glass; but either way, chill in the freezer for 5+ minutes before preparing.

About Drink Denver

Drink Denver is a local online magazine and bar guide focused on providing information to the sophisticated drinker. Through a combination of drink special listings, an event guide, a venue directory and up-to-date informative articles, Drink Denver  provides opportunities for educated drinking. Drink Denver is an edition of The Drink Nation, which started life as Drink Philly. In February 2011, Drink Philly and its founder, Adam Schmidt,  received the Wharton Entrepreneurship Conference People’s Choice Award for best new startup company, a far cry from its modest origins as an Excel spreadsheet shared amongst a few friends. Currently, The Drink Nation has local editions in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.., and Portland. For more information, visit, follow @DrinkDenver on Twitter or find Drink Denver on Facebook.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JJ Resnick March 24, 2015 at 1:35 am

What an awesome variation of the Moscow Mule! Being the original mug the mule was created in, we are always looking for new, fun ways to experience the best cocktail on the planet at The Moscow Copper Co. ( and we will definitely share this with all of our fans who are always asking us for new recipes. Cheers!


2 Aaron October 19, 2012 at 11:15 am

Kentucky Mule
Jim Beam (or Makers Mark) + Ginger beer + Lime juice
it’s best if you can find a spicier ginger beer.

Dark and Stormy
Goslings Dark Rum + Goslings Ginger beer + Lime Juice

Two of my all time favorite drinks


3 Creative Culinary October 19, 2012 at 11:27 am

Mmm…I was just given a huge bottle of Makers Mark from the Jim Beam folks; I’ll have to try that. Ginger beer is so hit or miss; I can find it at Cost Plus and one liquor store…but the one I used was good so I will definitely give one or both of these a shot. Thanks!


4 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective October 15, 2012 at 9:27 am

Well, I love the looks of this! And very cool styling too. )
Sommer@ASpicyPerspective Most Recent Post: Trout Schnitzel with Spaetzle and Mustard Caper Cream Sauce


5 Creative Culinary October 16, 2012 at 9:11 am

Thank you Sommer; sure helped to have those mugs! Just love this cocktail too.


6 Matt mmWine Horbund October 15, 2012 at 7:56 am

I absolutely love Moscow Mules – this is now on my list of cocktails to make, immediately. I love the Spring 44 cup too!
Matt mmWine Horbund Most Recent Post: Harry and David Launches Wine Collection


7 Creative Culinary October 16, 2012 at 9:11 am

This was a huge hit; I’m not sure why I’ve never tried one before but it’s risen like a bullet to the top of the list; easy too. Gotta love that!


8 Paula October 13, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Another wonderfully informative post with a great cocktail (served in fabulous copper mugs!!!)
Love all that the Drink Nation app has to offer especially the ability to locate a cab when one wants to get home safely.
Paula Most Recent Post: Carrot Cupcakes


9 addie | culicurious October 13, 2012 at 8:40 am

Looks amazing :) You are the best with cocktails!
addie | culicurious Most Recent Post: Corned Beef Hash Recipe with Sunny-side up Egg


10 Maureen October 12, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I want to make this drink just so I can offer it to my friends. “Hey want a Denver Donkey?” How soon before someone renames it a Colorado Ass ? :) Great photos.
Maureen Most Recent Post: Halloween Cookies


11 Amanda October 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Wow – those copper cups looks gorgeous, Barb, and what’s in them sound pretty wonderful too. I’ve not seen honey vodka before.
Amanda Most Recent Post: Maple Syrup Ice Cream Sandwiches


12 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme October 12, 2012 at 9:39 am

First – those copper cups? Gorgeous! And next, I’ve never heard of honey vodka but it sounds divine. I learn so much from your Friday posts!
Lana @ Never Enough Thyme Most Recent Post: Caraway Cheese Spread


13 Elle October 12, 2012 at 9:26 am

Beautiful photos! Honey flavored vodka must be fantastic.
Elle Most Recent Post: Apple Pie Filled Cider Doughnut Muffins


14 Holly October 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

Hooray! Another way to use the ginger beer I have sitting on the shelf. Your photos bring this drink to life and are simply beautiful!
Holly Most Recent Post: Apple Cream Cheese Cupcakes


15 Lynda October 12, 2012 at 9:14 am

I tried a Moscow Mule for the first time recently and loved it!
Lynda Most Recent Post: Salted Caramel Blondie Bars


16 kitchenriffs October 12, 2012 at 8:24 am

Great pictures! Love those mugs. I haven’t had a Moscow Mule in years, although I was thinking of making one this summer. Maybe next year. This is a nice twist on that great 50s drink! Good post – thanks.
kitchenriffs Most Recent Post: Pasta alla Norma


17 Karen Harris October 12, 2012 at 7:54 am

How refreshing do these look?! I am intrigued by the honey infused vodka. I bet it is wonderful. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these.
Karen Harris Most Recent Post: A Day with the Colorado Beef Producers and Colorado State University: Slow Cooked Beef Pot Roast with Sour Cream Gravy


18 Janis October 12, 2012 at 7:43 am

OHMYGOD! I have to have this drink and I am MADLY in love with the glasses!!!!
Janis Most Recent Post: The Perfect Apple Pie Lessons with Jon Rowley


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