After over 10 years of making homemade cocktails, you learn the beauty of balancing nights of drinking with days of abstaining. Thankfully, it’s becoming more posh to decline a happy hour beverage as zero-proof drinks, or mocktails, increase in popularity. This Virgin Moscow Mule recipe is based on the classic cocktail but it’s made without vodka or gin. Don't worry though, it’s still packed with flavor thanks to spicy ginger beer, lime juice, and a couple of sneaky secret ingredients that really amp up the flavor.
I love a traditional Moscow mule or a nice flavorful variation (like this Yule Mule), but sometimes it’s nice to take a night off. 😅 This drink is the perfect choice for those times when you want an alcohol-free version of a classic drink. Not to mention, it’s one of the easiest mocktails to make at home! Fresh, simple ingredients come together to create a delicious drink that is perfect for a hot day or even a cozy night in!Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this alcohol free Moscow mule recipe
🤩 zero hangovers. Some days you want to enjoy a fun beverage, but you don’t want to worry about feeling sluggish the next day. This Moscow mule mocktail is the perfect way to enjoy a fun beverage without worrying about having a hangover the next day.
💥 packed with flavor. This isn’t your grandma’s mocktail— it actually has flavor that doesn’t make you think you’ll need a trip to the dentist to check for cavities afterward. Thanks to ingredients like bitters, demerara simple syrup, and saline solution, this non-alcoholic beverage is anything but bland.
🥳 party perfect. This nonalcoholic mule is well suited for anyone, whether they’re abstaining from alcohol or not. As a bonus, it looks like the real deal, so you can serve these at a party alongside regular mules for guests who don’t feel like drinking! You can even customize it for kids!
- ginger beer - good quality ginger beer contains real ginger, giving it a strong ginger flavor that you just don’t get with ginger ale. Since this mocktail doesn’t have alcohol, it’s crucial to use a high quality ginger beer with real ginger. My favorite brand is Betty Buzz, but Fever Tree also has a nice ginger beer. Just make sure that ginger is an ingredient, and not “ginger flavor” or “essential oils” of ginger.
- lime - fresh lime juice is a crucial flavor in traditional Moscow mules. Citrus and ginger beer are BFFs because the zing from the citrus and spice from the ginger complement each other very well.
- demerara simple syrup - demerara sugar is a less-refined sugar that has a higher molasses content than granulated sugar. It has a nice, toasty flavor that adds a hint of toffee or caramel taste to your drinks. This recipe for demerara simple syrup is a quick and easy way to add depth and flavor to your drinks!
- saline solution - making your own saline solution at home is a quick and easy way to level up nearly any homemade drinks, whether they include alcohol or not. But when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks, they can sometimes skew a bit sweet or even acidic, thanks to the juices and syrups in them. Saline solution helps to balance out the sweetness and acidity without making your drink salty.
- Alcohol-free bitters - I love using the brand All The Bitter for my mocktails, because they are an alcohol-free bitters that add complex flavors to your zero-proof cocktails. For mules, I like using the aromatic bitters. The bold and spicy flavor plays very well with the citrus notes in this drink!
- ice - you’ll need plenty of ice for each drink. Preferably, used crushed ice or nugget ice if you can. Otherwise, you can crush your own ice cubes at home using a blender or wooden mallet.
- alcohol alternative spirit - The market is FULL of non alcoholic spirit options these days. You can use a brand like Lyres, Ritual, or Drink Monday. I opted to use Seedlip Citrus for this recipe because it works so well with the ginger beer. Although any clear spirit intended to be a replacement for vodka, gin, or rum would work well.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Step 1: Fill a copper cup, or mule mug, with crushed ice and add 7-10 dashes of bitters.
Step 2: Juice ½ a fresh lime to get ½ ounce of juice, and add it to the mule mug.
Step 3: Add in the demerara simple syrup.
Step 4: Using a dropper, add 3-5 drops of saline solution.
Step 5: If you're using an alcohol-alternative spirit, add that in next.
Step 6: Give your drink a good mix with a cocktail spoon.
Step 7: Top your Virgin Moscow Mules with ginger beer.
Step 8: Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel (or a fresh lime wedge) and a sprig of fresh mint leaves if you have them. Serve immediately.
💡tips and tricks for getting it right
🍽️ serving tips
How and when to serve your mule mocktails:
- This non-alcoholic beverage is perfect for serving at any event you'd normally serve alcoholic cocktails at.
- It's also perfect for having as a zero-proof option for those who choose not to indulge in alcohol.
Choose your glass:
- Traditional Moscow mules are served in a mule mug, which is a copper mug that holds anywhere from 16 - 20 ounces of liquid. The reason for this is murky, but there seem to be ties to the invention of the Moscow mule and an excess of copper mugs in L.A. in the 1940’s. Really. I’m serious! 🤣 If there’s one thing you can count on America for, it’s a commitment to popular culture and celebrity!
- You can use any glass you like that has at least a 16 ounce capacity. A highball glass or double rocks glass will do!
- Lime is the classic garnish of choice for mule cocktails, but I love using dehydrated lime wheels because they add a bit more character.
- You can also garnish with a few sprigs of fresh mint if you have it.
ℹ️ troubleshooting tips
If your mule mocktail doesn’t taste quite right, try these tips to troubleshoot the flavor.
- not enough ginger flavor - all ginger beers are not created equal. If you want the characteristic kick or gingery bite of flavor, check the labels of your ginger beer to make sure it includes real ginger. You should also be able to see the ginger inside the bottle or when you pour it into a glass. I love using Betty Buzz ginger beer because it’s got great ginger flavor without a ton of sugar. Fever tree makes a great ginger beer too, but make sure you choose the variety with real ginger, not “natural flavor.”
- too sweet - if your drink is too sweet, you can add in a few extra drops of saline solution to balance things out.
- too tart - if your limes are too acidic, your mules might be extra tart. Add in some more simple syrup to balance out the acidity from the citrus.
- salty - do NOT add in salt instead of using a saline solution. This will lead your drink to be way too salty, and maybe even have granules of salt.
⚖️ scaling tips
It’s easy to scale this mocktail up for a crowd! Simply make as many servings as you need in a pitcher and you’re ready for any party!
Since the ginger beer is effervescent, you’ll want to be sure to mix it up right before you’re serving it.
🔆 top tip
No zero-proof alcohol on hand? No problem! You can omit the spiritless liquid and replace it with sparkling water, or even still water. You can also add in more ginger beer instead.
♻️ substitutions & variations
Missing an ingredient? No problem. Check out these tried-and-true substitutions, or comment below with your question. I’m here to help you troubleshoot!
- seltzer or club soda - you can use seltzer water or club soda instead of ginger beer. You can also make your own ginger syrup for an even better taste than you’ll find in any store bought soda!
- ginger ale - ginger ale and ginger beer are different by definition, but they get confused for each other quite a bit. Ginger ale tends to be higher in sugar, and doesn’t contain any real ginger. If you can’t find ginger beer, you can use ginger ale, but you might want to skip adding in simple syrup.
- key lime simple syrup - take care of adding two flavors at once by using this key lime simple syrup in place of lime juice and simple syrup!
- use another citrus - lemon juice is a great option to swap for lime, or you can even use orange juice. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s fresh squeezed.
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- minty or herby - muddling fresh mint sprigs or some fresh rosemary with the lime juice and simple syrup is a great way to get a minty or herbaceous mule mocktail!
- fruity - add a few berries or slices of fruit into a cocktail shaker and give them a muddle. You can also use a fruity simple syrup and fruit juice to make a fruity mule mocktail. Try using cranberry juice, seen in this cranberry virgin mule cocktail, perfect for the holiday season!
- low-alcohol - if you want a lower alcohol mule instead of zero-proof, you can add in ½ ounce of vodka or gin. Remember, in most cocktail recipes, you can customize the alcohol content to your liking!
🧰 equipment needed & storage tips
🧰 tools needed
- mule mug - copper Moscow mule mugs are the traditional choice for mules, so if you want to keep things looking classic choose to use some 100% copper mule mugs like these! For a more budget friendly option, choose copper plated mugs.
- cocktail spoon - while you can use a regular spoon, cocktail stirring spoons help you to mix ingredients without agitating the drink too much and over diluting the ice. The longer handle is also great for added control in deeper glasses.
how to store your mule mocktails
Since this drink is made with a carbonated mixer, it is best to enjoy it right after you make it.
If you do have to store your mocktail, or if you’re making a batch in advance of a party, make sure to store it in a pitcher or bottle that has an airtight lid.
Also be sure to use caution when taking the lid off, because carbonation can build up in the bottle!
What are good brands of ginger beer to use in mules?
It all depends on what flavor you’re looking for. If you want the traditional spicy ginger bite, opt for brands that use real ginger like Betty Buzz or Fever Tree ginger beer. Bundaberg also uses real ginger. Brands like Q mixers use ginger extract, which yield a slightly mellower ginger flavor. Popular brands used in bars, like Goslings, often have no real ginger and use ginger flavoring instead! But, the best brand is the one YOU love, so it can take time to test a few brands at your local grocery store until you find your favorite.
What is the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale?
Ginger beer used to contain alcohol when it was first made, because it was made by fermenting ginger root. Nowadays, it’s all nonalcoholic. But authentic ginger beer has real ginger added to it and is bolder and spicier as a result. Ginger ale is usually ginger flavored
Do I need to use a zero proof alcohol alternative in this mocktail?
Nope. You can use seltzer water or still water instead. I do find that the alcohol free spirits add an additional layer of flavor which is nice in these mocktails, though.
If you make this recipe, please leave a review in the comments and a star rating!
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Alcohol Free Moscow Mule (Virgin Moscow Mule)
- 2 ounces Seedlip Grove citrus zero-proof spirit optional, see notes
- ½ ounce lime juice fresh
- 5 drops saline solution
- 4 ounces ginger beer Betty Buzz, recommended
- ½ ounce demerara simple syrup
- 5-8 dashes alcohol-free aromatic bitters All The Bitters, recommended
- dehydrated lime wheels optional, for garnish
- Fill a copper cup, or mule mug, with crushed ice.
- Add 5-8 dashes of bitters.
- Juice ½ a fresh lime to get ½ ounce of juice, and add it to the mule mug.
- Add in ½ ounce of demerara simple syrup.
- Using a dropper, add 3-5 drops of saline solution.
- Add in the alcohol alternative spirit if you’re using it.
- Give your drink a good mix with a cocktail spoon.
- Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel (or a fresh lime wedge) and a sprig of fresh mint leaves if you have them. Serve immediately.
🧯food safety & other information
Food safety is an important ingredient in any recipe for success! Here are some tips to keep you safe in the kitchen!
- While you can allow this syrup to sit at room temperature, don’t leave it out for longer than 4 hours at a time. This helps to inhibit bacteria growth that can happen from the sugars in the syrup. Read more about the temperature danger zone here.
- Use sterilized containers whenever possible. You can sterilize your containers by boiling them briefly, running them through your dishwasher with the sterilize feature activated, or pouring boiling water into the containers.
- While you may be able to use your simple syrup longer than 2 weeks in the fridge, if you see any sort of cloudiness or dark spots in the syrup, throw it out. This is mold growth and is not a recipe for fun.
- Never leave simmering syrup unattended on the stove.
- If you use honey to make this syrup, avoid feeding it to children under the age of 1.