Moonshine, aka unaged whiskey, has a reputation as a renegade spirit in the United States. It was made and consumed illegally in the hollows of Kentucky and West Virginia to the tenements of New York City. The once illicit spirit never gained much traction in bartending circles because its earthy flavor and signature burn never made it the most enjoyable bottle to work with. And while those facets still present some unique challenges when you’re trying to make a simple two ingredient drink, there are still plenty of mixers that produce quaffable results. Here are the best things to mix with moonshine.
Moonshine is whiskey, so the classic combination of whiskey and Coke works whether that whiskey has spent time in a barrel or not. Some of the sweeter, corn-heavy moonshines actually have some cola notes, which bridges the gap between the two ingredients.
Flavorwise, this is sort of the poor American cousin of the Paloma. You can really taste the two individual components—there is a strong, earthy undertone from the moonshine with a layer of bright, citrusy grapefruit juice on top.
No matter what mixer you use, you’re never going to lose the unmistakable and potent flavor of moonshine. But if that’s what you’re going for, mix it with ginger ale. Note that we’re not talking about ginger beer here. In a Highball, the sweeter ginger ale helps the moonshine go down the smoothest.
No, it’s not exactly a Manhattan, but if you want to turn your moonshine into a strong, stirred drink, this is the way to do it. You can use the traditional 2:1 whiskey to vermouth ratio of a Manhattan, but we like a 50/50 split even better. Make sure to stir it down with plenty of ice because you want some dilution to soften all the flavors.
Moonshine tamps down the sweetness of bottled lemonade in a way that really makes the combination better than the sum of its parts. Just throw these two together in a pint glass with some ice for the perfect companion to a summer cookout.
As with some of the other mixers that work with moonshine, a bottled iced tea leads to a nicer final result than the more intense versions you might make from scratch. But if you’re mixing this one, note that it can be easy to overdo it. We found that adding an ounce of whiskey for every three ounces of iced tea provides a perfect punch to what can otherwise be a mild drink.