On the Sauce: A Jarful of Rotgut and Two Sheets to the Wind


I’ve only experienced moonshine twice first-hand myself. The first time I had it doesn’t really count because it was just mass-distributed imitation “moonshine” that I bought at the package store in Editsto, South Carolina. It was made out of corn and it tasted not unlike regurgitated popcorn.

The other time I had some moonshine it was the real deal. And the problem at the time that I was experiencing it was that I had already had a few tipples of scotch prior to the moonshine incident, because it was my birthday, and so my friend-at-that-time tippled me some scotch to cheer me on. So I tipple-tippled, as one does.

And then, post-scotch, while the party was raging on in the kitchen and I sat in the living room just toning it down a little on my own like that, I noticed this bottle of Perrier on a table and I thought I’d better sober up and have some agua. So I guzzled down most of said Perrier. And it was a tall bottle, not one of those just-need-a-sippy kind. And the Perrier tasted quite unlike Perrier.

The Perrier was Albanian moonshine.

I didn’t feel right for a few days after that. But I learned my lesson: I haven’t touched dropped a drop of Perrier since.


The problem with ye olde bathtub gin is that you might not know what it is you’re drinking, particularly if you’ve had some booze to warm you up prior to the moonshine moment. This is probably one of the reasons it’s illegal to sell the stuff on any large scale. That and the potential for blindness and/or death that can result.


Say someone was using an old automotive radiator to concoct their swill, antifreeze or lead could lead to being poisoned and dying. Certain unmentionable distillers use cheap methanol to give their moonshine a potent kick, which is good if you want to melt your internal organs, but not advised if you want to keep the pipes running, or your eyeballs firmly in their sockets.


Today, moonshine can be legally made in personal quantities and it’s easy to find recipes for it, but selling it as safe for consumption is difficult and requires training and inspections.

I’m not going to advise you on a recipe since I know more about the sampling than the concocting. But check out a couple of classic American shiners.

Popcorn Feeding Moonshine to his Deer and Possum

Moonshine Paranoia

Popcorn Anticipates His Arrest

“I’ve made all kinds of liquor in my time, I’ve made the fighting kind, the loving kind, the crying kind, the laughing kind.’’

And speaking of moonshine, this weekend’s a meteor shower. So lie outside, and have a tipple — just don’t tipple over. It’s not your time.


Related on The Smoking Jacket:
On the Sauce: Cuba Libres in My Living Room 
On the Sauce: Kentucky Derby Mint Juleps