Full Moon

By: Joel Marino

Moonshine’s found its place in the sun.

The crystal-clear hooch long associated with bootleggers and Appalachian backwoods is moving on up, shedding its old-timey mystique and becoming a staple in cocktail lounges across the country. In fact, the Prohibition-era specialty is now such a mainstream hit that the most authoritative tome on the subject comes from the last place you’d expect: New York City.

The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining is as thorough as its long-winded title. That’s because its authors, architect Colin Spoelman and New York magazine editor David Haskell, have a lot to say. These big-city folk love the original mountain dew so much that they opened the Big Apple’s first distillery in nearly a century, located, like its name suggests, in Brooklyn.

Their collaboration is part memoir, part encyclopedia, part paean to American whiskey. But by far our favorite part is the middle section, where the duo uses a combination of text, graphs and photos to illustrate home-distilled moonshine recipes... that are completely legit.

Contrary to popular belief, distilling the spirit is not illegal in many parts of the country (as long as you pay the taxes and have the proper permits). Loosening laws are what’s led to the explosion of moonshine production—so much so that Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam have decided to compete with similar-tasting products.

But as this book points out, the magic in moonshine comes from its DIY appeal. So if the alcohol hasn’t been distilled in a backyard bathtub, we’re probably not touching it.

Joel Marino is a NYC-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys traveling and saying “I told you so” as much as possible. When not writing, he spends his time on a never-ending quest to find the perfect empanada.