s h n i o n o e M makes a comeback By Katie Coleman Is there anything more Southern than moonshine? With a rich history in North Carolina and NASCAR, the illicit spirit is making an explosive comeback. But be warned – this is not the same moonshine made from a still hidden in a barn. Brands like Midnight Moon have brought moonshine to a whole new level. White lightning, catdaddy, hooch, white dog, whatever you call it, everyone is familiar with some form of moonshine. “In Eastern North Carolina, traditional moonshine was made from apples. It was called applejack,” explained Trace Cooper. Cooper is the Mayor of Atlantic Beach and owner of Arendell Room, a cocktail bar in downtown Morehead City. “You can take anything that will ferment, grains, fruit, anything else, and distill it and get a liquor,” he said. Eastern North Carolina moonshine was more of an apple brandy as opposed to a corn whiskey. Each region in the state had its own kind of moonshine based on what was readily available. “There’s always been this tradition of making ‘shine, whether it’s applejack in the eastern part of the state or corn liquor in the western part of the state,” said Cooper. “There’s a history of distilling here.” North Carolina has a rich history in distilling, and that’s part of the reason why moonshine is making such a glorious comeback. The nostalgia factor, from the packaging to the Junior Johnson NASCAR tie-in, is one of the reasons why people are giving this historic industry a second chance. Midnight Moon, a North Carolina moonshine based in Madison, is packaged in mason jars, like traditional moonshine. The company also uses the family recipe of Junior Johnson, NASCAR Hall of Famer and moonshine bootlegging legend. Johnson’s family operated a still, and he ran the liquor. But Johnson was never caught, mainly because the authorities couldn’t catch him. “This was a time when the police didn’t have helicopters. If you could outrun them down a country road, you got off scott free,” said Cooper. The drivers are the ones who became famous, and that’s where NASCAR got its first round of drivers. The new moonshine industry is gaining traction by offering a variety of flavors. Midnight Moon offers six, apple pie, cherry, strawberry, blueberry, cranberry and blackberry. “Once they went to the flavors, it has really caught on. It’s much more approachable,” said Cooper. The fact that moonshine was illegal is also a driving force in the 24 a coastal magazine for women popularity. These flavored spirits are stronger than other distilled spirits. Cooper explained, “A blueberry vodka is going to be distilled three or four times and made to be much smoother. The point of this stuff is to be a little bit rough and be able to taste the alcohol; which, to me, is one of the reasons why it has caught on.” Denny Shrock, bartender and general manager of Arendell Room, said the flavors of moonshine make the spirit more fun. He said that because of how hot (alcoholic) the moonshine is, some aren’t sure of what to do with it. “Because they are hot and you can taste the alcohol, you need to mix them with something that’s a little more thick to balance out that alcohol flavor, but still not take away too much of the flavoring of the moonshine.” Shrock took advantage of this opportunity with moonshine when he came up with the Harvest Moon cocktail. This fall-inspired drink features Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine. Harvest Moon Add to a shaker: 1.75 oz. of Apple Pie Moonshine .5 oz. of Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur 2 teaspoons of pumpkin butter (apple pie mix works if you don’t have pumpkin butter) Splash of cream Add ice, shake, and strain into a martini glass. Add a fresh nutmeg dusting on top. He also decided to make a cocktail with the Midnight Moon Blueberry Moonshine. Midday Blues 1.5 oz. of Blueberry Moonshine Fresh Squeezed Lemonade Fresh Blueberries Add the moonshine to a highball glass with ice. Top with freshsqueezed lemonade and add blueberries for garnish. Arendell Room sells both of these cocktails, or you can make your own at home.
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