Monday, January 13, 2014

Mama the Moonshiner

A bottle of moonshine has been sitting on top of my refrigerator since early July. I’m supposed to drink it and write about it. But I’m afraid!

My stepmother’s mom, Sue, has long regaled me with stories of the jake-legged men of her Kentucky girlhood, guys whose hobbled gait gave them away as moonshiners, thanks to improperly distilled hooch’s delightful tendency to partially paralyze those who indulge.

The moonshine in my house is sold in stores, not mountain shacks. I know it won’t paralyze me. And very strictly speaking, it’s not really moonshine at all, because by the traditional definition, moonshine is illegal. And this shiz is totally legal.

But semantics aside, moonshine—un-aged, white whisky—is having a may-jah cultural moment (Exhibit A: The shirtless, toothless charmers of the Discovery Channel show, Moonshiners). After all, hipsters are already obsessed with drinking stuff out of Mason jars and sporting unkempt facial hair, so why not go whole hog and get them to knock back some moonshine, too?

That’s why when someone from Bone Spirits asked if she could give me a bottle of Fitch’s Goat Moonshine to sample and review, I truly did want to give it a try. I figured I already have lots of Mason jars rattling around the house, not to mention a chin hair that’s showing up with alarming regularity. I might just fit into the whole moonshine scene.

So I said “yes” to the sweet lady from Bone Spirits, and the moonshine arrived on my doorstep a couple of weeks later. The glass bottle had a pretty, innocent-looking white ribbon tied around its neck that promised, “I’m friendly. I won’t kill you.” (I bet smallpox blankets looked pretty cozy at first, too. Ha! Joking!)

That was in July. Now it's January, and that bottle of moonshine is still sitting on top of my fridge, collecting dust. Who am I kidding? I turn into a loud-talker after single glass of wine, confess my darkest secrets after two, and barf after three. I’m no moonshiner.

But my four-year-old had spinal cord surgery on New Year’s Eve, so I guess if there was ever a time when mama needed a shot of white lightning, it’s probably now.

I wait for my husband to get home before taking the plunge.

NOTE TO SPOUSES: If your woman is standing at the ready with a bottle of moonshine and an empty shot glass the second you walk through the door, wait an extra five minutes before putting on your comfy pants and give her a quick backrub. The local authorities will thank you.  

I pull the bottle down from the fridge. I pour it in a shot glass and shudder. It smells like paint thinner, but I soldier on. I swallow about a tablespoon of it and yell and punch the air involuntarily. Yipes! I can trace its hot path all the way down my throat. And yet I’m visited by an inexplicable urge to have another sip. Good golly! One more! It might go down like fire, but sure dang-it, it gets the job done.

Not interested in shooting straight white whisky? Try the Sour Goat cocktail, recipe courtesy of Bone Spirits:

1½ oz. Fitch’s Goat Moonshine
½ oz. fresh squeezed Lime
½ oz. fresh squeezed Lemon
½ oz. fresh squeezed Orange
¾ oz. simple syrup

Shake over ice
Strain and serve on ice

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