The sneaky thing about moonshine is that its resurgence, on the surface, could seem like some sort of hipster practical joke.
“WHO CARES if this curly handlebar mustache is pretty much a ‘do not pass go, do not collect $200’ card for my face? It’s old-timey. And who cares if moonshine tastes good? It’s a rediscovered gem of Americana.”
The mason jars don’t help. Moonshine could be the (much, much higher-proof) PBR of the South.
There’s one important difference, though. Unlike PBR, which is for hydrating and keeping your wallet happy, moonshine can be–and often is–really delicious.
Because of its history, we don’t expect moonshine to be any good. Desperate times, desperate measures, and you know the rest. I won’t lie–I braced myself for my first taste of it. That was in Portland a few years ago, now that I think about it, which makes my point about moonshine’s hipster cred extra valid. Valid+. Valid with a bird on it!
Moonshine is unaged bourbon, and begins its journey the same way: as a mash of corn, mostly. As with whiskey–or anything else in the world of spirits–if your distiller takes pride in it, you’ll have something special in your glass. Luckily, Seven Troughs, right here in the greater Reno-Sparks area, is one such distillery. I got to visit not too long ago for a quick tasting and tour. Craft distilling is still new to the area, so it’s rather exciting to see it start on such a great note.
When a whiskey goes unaged, the flavors of the grain come through much more pronounced than they would in a barrel-aged product. If you ask me (you didn’t) (it’s cool), moonshine is the whiskey lover’s summer jam. Naturally.
So here’s a simple drink for your summer enjoyment. Simple in composition, at least–the prep takes a little work unless you have an ice crusher, you lucky buckaroo. Corn/tarragon is among the greatest hits of flavor combinations in my book, so the herb works nicely here. I noodled around with it a little, but ultimately, simplicity won–although 1/2 ounce of Averna is a delicious addition, it steals too much attention away from the corn.
If you need further convincing, this is essentially a berry-fied mint julep without mint … or bourbon (only on a technicality though).
If you’re a whiskey fan, and you haven’t experimented with its pale cousin yet, this might be the summer to do just that. If it doesn’t go well, at least you’ll be left with a sweet mason jar for your crafting needs.
Either way. Moonshine on, and happy drinking!
- Heaping 1/4 cup raspberries
- 1 large sprig tarragon
- 1 cube sugar
- A few dashes lime bitters
- 2 ounces moonshine/unaged bourbon (Seven Troughs Recession Proof Moonshine used here)
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- Lots of crushed ice
- Muddle raspberries, tarragon, sugar cube, and bitters in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add a big handful of ice cubes and the moonshine. Shake well and double-strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with raspberries and/or tarragon, as desired.