It’s happy hour on a Thursday evening; the bar at Radiator Whiskey is packed. Luckily there are two open seats, and they're positioned directly in front of the oversized whiskey barrel mounted on the wall. All around the bustling bar people are ordering whiskey cocktails mixed with everything from Lapsang tea to ancho chili; I’m here to order a spiced pumpkin mule, on the request of my editor, of course.
Thanks to a certain coffee company, Pumpkin spice can be found in everything from Oreo cookies to dental chews for your canine companion; comedian John Oliver recently devoted three hilarious minutes on his weekly HBO show just to rant about how overused the holiday flavor has become, his point was that it is in essence the flavor of a scented candle and a pie that nobody even likes. It was only a matter of time before pumpkin spice invaded the cocktail menu. After all, vodka is pretty accommodating to being infused and flavored in what appears to be an endless quest to chase every possible flavor trend. Do people still drink bacon-flavored vodka these days?
The spiced pumpkin mule arrived, filling the glistening copper cup to its rim; condensation already rolling down the shiny mug’s sides by the time it was sat on the bar. The first sip was intoxicating, an in-your-face aroma of the spice forward variety combined with ice cold, easy drinking ginger soda to be a very pleasing thirst quencher. I was expecting to be let down but in reality it was not the least bit disappointing. Radiator's mule follows the classic combo of ginger beer, lime juice, and vodka, simple and straightforward. The pumpkin comes courtesy of an organic spiced pumpkin vodka by a distiller out of New York by the name of Crop Harvest Earth. To follow the recipe accurately, the bartender told me, the mule was made with Cock 'n' Bull ginger beer, one of the original ingredients that sparked this cocktail's creation as a way to sell vodka to Americans in 1940s Los Angeles.
It was my first, and likely only, spiced pumpkin mule. And you know what…it wasn’t half bad but it also wasn’t a gateway to an addiction all things pumpkin spice. After a few sips the mule's mild spice flavor soon receded from the forefront of my attention and it actually complimented my Buffalo sauced fried chicken livers marvelously. Perhaps the spiced pumpkin mule is just for those trend-chasing holiday obsessed white girls John Oliver was making fun of, but I can assure you it is safe to drink. However, next time I think I won’t stray from that barrel-aged boulevardier, after all, the bar does have whiskey right there in its name for a reason.