It seems like every bar in Ithaca slings a Moscow Mule these days. A child born of the Cold War and a Smirnoff marketing campaign, the vodka, lime, and ginger beer cocktail is traditionally served in a copper mug.
The presence of the Moscow mule on drink lists was nagging me for weeks. Craving a hot and spicy ginger kick, I set off with my friend Céline for the first ever Sun Mixology’s Ithaca Cocktail Throwdown.
Contender 1: Northstar Pub ($6)
Made with Sobieski vodka, a fresh lime and Ithaca ginger beer, this drink was sweet and spicy. A bit too sweet (reminded me of a 7-11 eleven slushie from many years ago), it could have used more fresh lime juice. The use of a local ginger beer saved the drink and fits the restaurant’s hip but hometime atmosphere. It was, however, served in a cocktail shaker made of cheap stainless steel — disappointing presentation.
Contender 2: Blue Stone ($6.50)
The bar and restaurant’s owner, Nancy, claimed that Blue Stone brought the Moscow Mule to Ithaca as we sipped ours. A polar opposite of its opponent, this version was heavy on lemon lime and light on ginger. Blue Stone’s mule was served with pomp in a gorgeous copper mug, but it was made with well vodka, lime juice and a Saranac ginger beer. I liked the mug, but didn’t like the lack of spice.
Contender 3: Silky Jones ($5, on special)
Again, served in a poor man’s copper mug, the cocktail shaker, this Friday night special (nice!) was made with Pearl vodka, Ithaca ginger beer and fresh lime juice. By far the most balanced, bubbly and spicy drink.
Winner: Silky Jones. The price was right on for this balanced, bubbly fun-tail.