It’s that time of the year again… when everything is pumpkin spice flavored including Spam, pasta sauce, and Kit-Kat bars. (I’m not kidding — Google these for yourself!) For the majority of these Franken-foods, the pumpkin spice is quite obviously being shoehorned into/onto the product. But in my opinion, there’s one place where the ubiquitous flavoring actually makes sense: a Kentucky Mule.
Unlike canned ham, the pumpkin spice flavor profile already fits with the spirit. Bourbon usually has some of the caramel and vanilla flavors that are appealing in any “pumpkin spice” thing, all we really need to add are a couple supporting elements. Heck, if you find the right bourbon, the cinnamon flavor might already be there.
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- Ginger beer
- Marshmallow (optional)
Start by adding the cinnamon and ground cloves to the glass. I recommend giving it a couple test runs and see how you prefer the spices, as this will vary depending on the bourbon you use.
I usually like the McCormick spices, but in this case I’m trying to use up the bag of cinnamon my wife and I bought just about five years ago from Atlantic Spice Company on Cape Cod. (It may or may not have been the size of a small child so we’re currently only halfway there — maybe in another five years we’ll be ready for another bag.)
From there, add the 2 ounces of bourbon. In this case we’re going to use Bulleit Bourbon as our base because that’s a pretty standard offering and should be available no matter where you go. Stir to mix the spices well into the bourbon and give it a whiff to make sure the cinnamon is coming through.
I was tempted to recommend Fireball for this project but the insane level of sweetness just throws the whole thing off kilter.
Add ice and top with ginger beer. Ginger is the last missing required component of the pumpkin spice flavor, and the ginger beer should add just enough to make it a delicious drink and give you that familiar pumpkin spice flavor.
Last but not least, garnish with a marshmallow and enjoy!
Optional: Toasted Marshmallow and Balcones Brimstone
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous and want something that my wife describes as “fall in a glass”, then the best form of this cocktail uses the Balcones Brimstone whiskey. Brimstone is infused with a smokey flavor that reminds me of a campfire, but that smoke flavor isn’t overpowering – there’s also a brown sugar aroma in the whiskey to keep it just the right side of sweet.
As for the garnish on this one, grab a butane torch and give the marshmallow a bit of a char on the outside. And voila, you officially have a drink as autumn as a football tailgate, apple picking, or… well, pumpkin spice.