Moonshine: Coming Soon to a Cocktail Near You


The Written Geek™/flickr

To try Derek's recipe for the Silver Fox, a high-octane moonshine cocktail, click here. Or scroll down to watch a video of a tasting with moonshine expert Max Watman, who was profiled in Wayne Curtis's "Hipster Moonshine" in the current issue of the Atlantic.

How often do you find yourself in a group of people sitting around a mason jar full of 'shine discussing the organoleptic features of the raw spirit, alternatively known as white dog, popskull, and panther piss?

"Chewy grain and malt character with a vibrant nose of apricot ..."

Well, for me that happened exactly once. I joined Max Watman—the author of Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine—and Atlantic editor Rachael Brown to taste a range of moonshines, some of which might have the long bearded, overall-clad hillbilly folk scratching their heads. House Spirit's 100% Malted Barley spirit from Oregon, for example, might not exactly fit the profile of most white lighting.

Why? Well, primarily because it's not poisonous. In fact, it's quite good. Moonshine or not, it's definitely at the forefront of an emergent trend: small batches of raw white spirits, or un-aged whiskey. Wayne Curtis does a great job of summarizing the current trend and Max's excellent book in his Atlantic article on hipster moonshine.

In the meantime, I found not only a few good spirits at the tasting but have also been able to scratch out some drink recipes as well. My favorite base is either the House Spirits 100% Malted Barley or, locally, Wasmund's Rye Spirit from the Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia. My favorite recipe is similar to San Francisco bartender Neyah White's White Manhattan. I substitute apricot brandy for the Benedictine and add a dash of Laphroiag 10-Year-Old Scotch Whiskey.

The smokiness of the Scotch brings the fullness of taste out of the white whiskey, which means this is a full-bodied, high-octane drink. But the fruit-driven apricot brandy and Dolin Blanc keep it well balanced. For an extra touch, add moonshine-soaked cherries.