Moonshine has always had the reputation of a backwoods-crafted, lightning-bolt, head-kick of a brew. New millennium moonshiners embrace that rebel rap while bringing a new level of respect, craftsmanship, and creativity to the art. Aficionados will always wallow in the joy of sipping shine neat, but these days, tuned-in mixologists and distillers alike have been multiplying their options by learning how to make flavored moonshine.
In its essence, moonshining is a process of converting sugars into alcohol.
It starts with a mash of grains, starches, or fruits processed to maximize sugar content, which yeast then feasts on to produce ethanol. The liquid from that mash is then distilled multiple times to the clarity, purity, and proof that the distiller desires. If you want to learn how to make moonshine mash, check out this awesome article.
Some flavored moonshine recipes require this full multi-step process for best results and subtlety of flavor. But if you'd rather not get caught up in the red tape of obtaining fuel-alcohol or distilled spirit permits, but you still want a flavored moonshine to serve up at your next party, we've included recipes that infuse flavor into a readily available substitute.
Some people reach for vodka when making a fruit-flavor-infused brew. That is, of course an option, and if that's the route you want to go, check out this video on how to make vodka soaked fruit.
However, a better choice in terms of the classic, clean moonshine taste is Everclear. Everclear is pure grain alcohol, just like you'd whip up yourself, if you had the right permits, of course. It comes in two proofs, 151 and 190, and can be diluted to the strength you prefer.
Let's get right into it then, shall we?
Strawberry moonshine is a sweet summer treat with a real kick. Drink it straight or mix it with seltzer for a fizzy afternoon cocktail on the deck. The following is a typical infusion recipe that you can use with many different kinds of fruit.
1. Wash the fruit well, remove leaves and stems, and slice thin to maximize surface area to be exposed to the moonshine.
2. Divide the fruit among the mason jars so that they're 1/3 to 1/2 full of fruit. Fill to the top with moonshine or Everclear, and close tightly. If you've got a sweet tooth, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of sugar to the mix.
3. Store in a dark place for a month. Give the jars a good shake every couple of days to help the infusion process.
4. When the infusion flavor is to your taste, strain the moonshine through cheesecloth to remove the fruit. Store the fruit-infused moonshine in a fresh new jar. Serve over ice for a refreshing strawberry moonshine cocktail with a kick.
There's a subtle difference between apple pie moonshine and applejack moonshine, although you can make the first by using the second. How to make applejack moonshine involves mixing up a fruit mash and then distilling the wash to your preferred proof. Infusing classic apple pie spices into that final applejack shine turns it into evocative, fragrant apple pie moonshine.
If you'd like to whip up some of this tasty brew more quickly, check out the recipe below.
1. Heat the cider and juice and add sugar until fully dissolved. Cool the liquid and add moonshine.
2. Fill mason jars to the top and add a cinnamon stick to each. The sweetly-flavored moonshine can be served immediately, but aging for a few weeks infuses a stronger cinnamon taste.
Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than a frosty glass of lemonade... moonshine. Gather your friends and chill out with this simple, sugary-tangy recipe.
1. Warm the water, lemon juice, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Let cool and add the moonshine to the strength desired.
3. Pour the whole mix into mason jars.
4. Chill and serve up as soon as it's frosty-cold.
Remember the sweet-sour taste of a hard candy lemon drop on your tongue? A gulp of this recipe will put a new shine on all those wonderful, summery, childhood memories.
1. Dissolve the sugar in warm water, let cool and add the rest of the ingredients.
2. Divide the volume among mason jars and drop a couple of lemon drops in each jar. This can be served immediately or left to infuse a stronger candy-lemon flavor.
The question of how to make flavored moonshine can be answered in several ways. Like any fruit, watermelon can be used to make a fruit mash, the result of which can then be distilled into a subtle, strong, and authentic shine well worth the wait. If you'd rather have results more quickly, go ahead and stir up this watermelon moonshine cocktail.
1. In a large cocktail shaker combine a cup of crushed ice, 8-10 bite-sized cubes of watermelon, the fresh lemon juice, and the moonshine.
2. Shake vigorously.
3. Add lemonade, a splash of seltzer if you like fizz, and pour into two glasses to serve.
Honey moonshine is more colloquially known as "honeyshine," and it's a favorite of distillers everywhere. Basically, brewers make a honey mead through fermentation of a honey-based mash and then distil the wash to a higher purity and proof.
1. Stir 1-gallon honey into 3 gallons water in a large pot to 160 degrees or so until dissolved.
2. Add the remaining water, cool it all to 70 degrees and then add the yeast.
3. Pour the resulting mash into a fermentation jar, like a 5-gallon glass carboy, cover the mouth with cheesecloth, and let ferment until bubbling stops.
4. Distill to desired purity.
This delicious blueberry moonshine has a kick that will ignite your taste buds and bring on that country home feeling.
1. Warm up the blueberry juice, blueberries, and cinnamon sticks in a large pot, then slowly add the sugar and blueberry pie filling.
2. Simmer for about a half an hour, then turn off the heat and let it all cool.
3. Add the moonshine and the vanilla extract and pour into mason jars to infuse for a few days.
4. Strain before serving.
Got an old crock pot buried in the back of your garage? Take it out and put it to good use! Check out this super-simple crock-pot recipe for pineapple moonshine.
1. Heat the juice and the sugar (stir to dissolve) in the crock pot for 2 hours, on a low setting.
2. Cool to room temperature and stir in the moonshine.
3. Chill in mason jars and serve.
Sweet and strong, this cherry moonshine tastes like summer, is simple to make, and it's great for gifts. The following recipe yields four mason jars worth of flavored shine to share with your friends.
1. Combine everything except the moonshine or Everclear in a pot and heat until the sugar dissolves.
2. Let it cool, add the moonshine/Everclear, pour into mason jars and store.
3. Spritz it up with a dash of seltzer or ginger ale or enjoy it over ice.
Blackberry moonshine is a popular choice for shine aficionados. Like any other fruit, you could make a blackberry fruit mash for fermentation and distillation, or you could try this recipe that offers up an alternative for blackberry moonshine without distilling.
Or you could try the blackberry syrup-based moonshine mix below.
1. Dissolve the sugar in water at high heat along with a couple of blackberries, then cool and transfer evenly to two mason jars.
2. Add evenly to the jars the rest of the blackberries, a sliver of lemon and lime zest, and the Everclear or moonshine. Let sit for several days for maximum infusion, shaking occasionally.
3. Strain out the blackberries and serve!
Now that you know how to make flavored moonshine, you're sure to be the center of attention at your next dinner party, summer BBQ, or blowout event.
Flavored moonshine is a craftsman's delight, so consider mixing fruits or trying more exotic options like papaya or mango to create fresh new flavored shines.
Featured image: Michelle Milla
Before discovering the meaning of life, Rory Constantine spent his days tinkering with airplane engines in a Raytheon hangar. But on a junket overseas, a fellow grease monkey talked him into visiting a British distillery that offered tastings. Now Rory chases the scent, potency, and promise of spirits up mountains, through jungles, and over wide deserts in search of the next transformative mouthful.