If you’ve set foot in a ‘drinking establishment’ in recent years, there is a good chance you’ve enjoyed a Moscow Mule. Or at least you’ve seen someone imbibing from a signature copper mug.
Considering the popularity of the concoction – a sweet and spicy mixture of vodka, ginger beer and lime juice – it might come as a surprise that the “Mule” was originally developed in the 1940s as an attempt to use up “dead stock” of unpopular ingredients. And don’t let the name fool you, the Moscow Mule doesn’t hail from Russia. It was born in Manhattan.
This refreshing drink might seem like a healthier alternative than traditional sugar-laden cocktails. And while ginger itself does have a plethora of benefits, most brands of ginger beer are packed with sugar. In fact, to counteract the spiciness of the ginger, some brands contain more sugar than popular soft drinks. So, don’t let the “real ginger juice” on the label fool you, a single serving of spicy-sweet ginger beer can set you back over 35 grams of sugar!
That’s the equivalent of one and half Snickers bars… for one boozy drink!
And even if you drink in moderation (as you should), the fast-acting carbohydrates from the sugar in ginger beer will send your liver into overdrive. Possibly more than the alcohol itself!
In fact, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFDL) affects 25% of people in the United States and is considered one of America’s greatest health risks. A quarter of the population is damaging this crucial organ just from the overload of carbohydrates and sugar. And that’s just one potential risk. Excessive sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, heart disease and more.
The Health “Benefits” of Alcohol?
You might be thinking, “Well, it’s not like drinking alcohol is the smartest move anyway. Who cares about the sugar at this point? ”
The reality is that moderate alcohol consumption may have some benefits. Studies show that three to five drinks per week may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. It could protect against gallstones. And it may also reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. According to Edward J. Neafsey, Ph.D. who led a review of 143 studies, “Small amounts of alcohol might, in effect, make brain cells more fit. Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses down the road that could cause dementia.”
There are even studies to suggest that moderate alcohol could be protective against type 2 diabetes. But that would certainly depend on what you’re mixing a drink with.
For those who drink, moderation is critical. But there are also ways to imbibe more safely and with less impact on our blood sugar.
That’s why I set out to make the spicy, sweet and sour Moscow Mule as low-glycemic and easy as possible.
A Sugar Free Moscow Mule (Made in the Instant Pot!)
To accomplish this, I turned to the natural beauty, zingy flavor and health benefits of ginger and the old fashioned way of making a simple syrup: hot water and sweetener.
In this case, I used the sugar alcohol, erythritol. If you’re unfamiliar with this unique sweetener, erythritol has zero calories and no glycemic impact. It is also a powerful antioxidant. And because it is naturally found in many foods, it is well recognized by your body. Erythritol can be used cup for cup as a replacement for sugar. It can also be blended with coconut sugar, as desired (70% erythritol to 30% coconut sugar is a good mix).
So, back to making the simple syrup…
Unfortunately, the stovetop just couldn’t extract the powerful ginger punch I was seeking. No matter how long it steeped the syrup tasted flat and muddied – not bright and zingy.
Then I turned to the pressure-cooking power of the Instant Pot. I knew how well (and quickly!) this tool extracts nutrients to make gelatin-rich bone broth, and I thought it could have similar effects on my ginger syrup. By adding pressure, the extraction would be more complete, helping to get every layer of ginger’s spice to shine through.
With just three simple ingredients – ginger, water and erythritol – I whipped up a batch. The result was a golden spicy and sweet syrup that rivaled even the strongest ginger beer. I had the ginger-infused simple syrup bartenders spend days curing… in just 30 minutes!
Now, for the real test: How does it taste?
I sliced up some limes, popped open a bottle of sparkling mineral water, poured a jigger of vodka, and crushed up some ice. The result: A refreshing, sweet and zingy low-glycemic cocktail (for about $0.50!) that rivals the $9 bartender’s version with 30 grams of sugar.
Of course, we’re not encouraging you to go wild on Moscow Mules, or any alcoholic beverage. But with this recipe, you can (moderately) enjoy a cocktail… with one less stress to your liver.
Now, onto the recipes!
Homemade Sugar Free Ginger Syrup: A Simple Step By Step
First, I’ll show you how to make the most important ingredient: Ginger syrup!
Slice ¼ pound of ginger thinly (a food processor makes quick work of this). Get 2 cups of water and 1 cup of non-GMO erythritol ready (and coconut sugar if you prefer a sweetener blend).
Now, just dump those ingredients into your Instant Pot.
Close and lock the lid. Turn to “manual” and cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Quick release and let the vessel cool. Strain liquid through a mesh into a mason jar. You will get about 2 cups of ginger syrup.
Store in a cool place away from light and shake before using. (NOTE: At this point, I am unsure of how long it keeps at room temperature. So far I have had it 3 weeks in storage. I will keep you updated). I like to use 2 Tbsp. – ¼ cup per Moscow Mule, so this recipe makes 8-16 servings depending on how gingery you like your cocktails.
- ¼ pound ginger
- 1 cup erythritol
- 2 cups water
- Add ginger, erythritol and water to the InstantPot.
- Close the lid and turn to “manual”. Choose the high setting and 30 minutes on the timer.
- When done cooking, quick release the pressure cooker.
- Strain and store in a glass jar.
5 calories, 13 g carbohydrates, 12 g sugar alcohol, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein, 0 g fiber
1 NET carb per serving
Sugar Free Moscow Mule Recipe (Printable)
If you’ve ever had a Moscow Mule, you probably know it’s served in a chilly copper mug. This has nothing to do with flavor, but instead is simply a unique marketing tactic that stuck. So if you’ve got some lying around, crush up some ice and get your shakers ready! If not, serve in the glass of your choosing. Cheers!
- 2 Tbsp. Sugar Free Ginger Syrup (recipe above)
- 1.5 ounces vodka
- 1 lime wedge
- 6 ounces sparkling mineral water
- Liquid stevia (for additional sweetness, if needed)
- 1 mint leaf, for garnish
- Add vodka, ginger syrup and ice to a copper mug or your glass of choice.
- Top with sparkling mineral water. Stir and adjust sweetness with stevia.
- Serve with lime wedge and garnish with mint leaf.
102 calories, 13 g carbohydrates, 12 g sugar alcohol, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein, 0 g fiber
1 NET carb per serving
If you love a good Moscow Mule, I encourage you to try this lower impact, ginger-forward, budget-friendly recipe. You’ll save your body from the woes of excess sugar… while saving money to boot!