Here at PHOENIX, it’s no secret we love experimental cocktails. Chile pepper-infused vodka shaken with purple mangosteen liquor and topped with palo verde essence bubbles? Yes, please. (I made that up, though I expect to see something similar on Valley mixologists’ craft cocktail lists any day now.) But while we aren’t scared to participate in “Fear Factor – Cocktail Edition,” it’s always nice to return to the classics every so often.

The Negroni is one such old faithful.

According to legend (from the soothsayers over at HuffPo), the Moscow Mule was invented in the 1940s as a way to get picky Americans to start drinking vodka and ginger beer. Before then, it seems stateside drinkers weren't fans of either vodka or ginger beer on their own. But a mash-up of the two had us singing a different tune. The Moscow Mule – just like the animal it's named for – is not simply the sum of its parts... something special happens when you mix vodka (or try gin!) and ginger beer with a healthy squeeze of lime in a copper mug. It's a magical hybrid.

We've scouted the best five mules in the Valley for your mash-up pleasure.

The leaves on the trees may not be changing color, but the vibes of autumn are all around in the Valley of the Sun – the cooler temperatures, the Halloween decorations, the Thanksgiving recipes, the pumpkin spice-flavored everything, and best of all – the flavorful fall craft cocktails at local lounges. Here are five favorites, with nary a pumpkin spice-anything among them.

El Segundo (The Parlor): mezcal, watermelon, Apertivo Capalletti, lime, black pepper. $11
With a subtle spice pinch and smoky tones from mezcal ebbing and flowing into a soothing, mellow melon finish, El Segundo’s like an Autumn equinox of cocktails. Served with mint leaves and a thick watermelon slice garnish over lots of ice. (pictured, left)

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