There used to be one way to drink moonshine: Sip it out of a mason jar, wait for the burning in your throat to subside, sip again. These days, the stuff has become not only legal, but truly drinkable; it even comes in flavors.
As he's cooked his way across the South, Atlanta chef (and former 'Top Chef' contestant) Eli Kirshtein has had the opportunity to try a few types of moonshine – and to partner up with Ole Smoky Moonshine, which calls itself the "first legal" moonshine distillery in East Tennessee's moonshine country. He says it's time for hooch drinkers to move beyond straight sipping and allow white lightning, a neutral spirit, to be a wetbar workhorse. Hillbilly cocktail hour has arrived.
"Using it as a surrogate for vodka across the board works," Kirshtein says, adding that because moonshine retains its distinctive – if tempered taste, it lends drinks "a more burly, manly flavor." Here are the mixological standouts likeliest to bring moonshine to a bar near you.
"Have you ever taken a drink of sangria and been like: I have a headache, right now?" Kirshtein asks. If so, this sangria may be just the thing for you – and your soon-to-be-grateful guests: It gets its kick and sweetness from moonshine, both straight and flavored, rather than some combination of brandy, cointreau, and added sugar. Since a jar of moonshine is 750 milliliters, the same as a bottle of wine, you won't have much measuring to do if you're making enough for a crowd.
• 1 part apple pie moonshine
• 1/2 part original moonshine
• 1 part red wine
• 1/4 part Triple Sec
• 2 parts orange juice
• Chopped fruit of your choice
Credit: Photograph by Chad Springer
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher or punch bowl, and let refrigerate overnight (or about 12 hours). Serve in wineglasses, over ice if desired.