Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Entertaining
3 Moonshine Cocktails Even Your Cityslicker Friends Will Like

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Moonshine may be unaged, but the white whiskey has certainly grown up since it came down from the hills and into the cocktail bar. While distillers still trace their roots to rustic origins in Appalachia, bartenders are using the bright, crystal-clear whiskey in cosmopolitan cocktails that our hillbilly forefathers would scarcely recognize. It turns out ‘shine, with its zesty, peppery notes, is great for mixing, charging ahead on the palate like a bootlegger on the run from whatever sweet, bitter or savory flavors may follow in close pursuit. Whether you’re ready or not, moonshine has come out of the shadows to brighten your day.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall
According to Sean Potter, head of eat and drink at Stoke in Charlotte, North Carolina, “It don’t get more local for Charlotte than moonshine. I mean, we have the NASCAR Hall of Fame here and NASCAR was basically started by bootleggers running moonshine.” The bar team wanted to stay true to that local spirit, so they tasted their way through their neighbors’ offerings until they found the Revolution-era Midnight Moonshine, whose elevated take on white whiskey is illustrative of Charlotte’s own transformation from a fiery Southern belle to an international restaurant destination.

At Stoke, bartenders combine the ‘shine with ginger beer, lime and grapefruit for their take on a Moscow Mule. It’s a drink that won’t let go of your taste buds until long after the last sip. Potter notes that the drink has been on the bar menu since opening, adding, “We might have a revolution on our hands if we get rid of it.”

The Essentials

moonshine
Fresh Grapefruit Juice
Ginger Beer
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
Moonshine isn’t for quiet contemplation. The hot-tempered whiskey is for passionate drinkers, especially the heartbroken who need the fiery spirit to help rekindle some warmth. At Heritage in Richmond, Virginia, bar manager Tim Quinn uses the unaged spirit in his elixir for the unhappy in love. (The name was inspired by the song “Eventually” by Tame Impala in which the singer croons his wish to never have met his heartbreaking paramour).

Quinn uses Belle Isle’s Honey Habanero Moonshine as a silky, corn-forward base that interweaves notes of soft spice and sweet honey with a trio of bittersweet amari. The easy drinking sipper is gone before you know it but, unlike a lover, it’s easy enough to rustle up another.

The Essentials

honey habanero moonshine
Cocchi Americano
Amaro
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
You might not expect to encounter moonshine as far north as Hamburg, New Jersey, but white lightning runs as deep in this northeastern tip of Appalachia as it does through the South. At Chef’s Garden, you’ll find mixologist Ali Koppel embracing the locavore aspects of the region’s shiner tradition, surprising guests with the magic of fresh Garden State ingredients and local whiskey. To capitalize on the sweet nose and young heat of Wicked White Whiskey from the nearby Catskills, Koppel pulls earthy carrots, vibrant citrus and fresh dill from the restaurant’s own garden, magically delivering those flavors to cocktail drinkers like a rabbit from a hat.

The Essentials

moonshine
carrot juice
dill syrup

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