Good Taste: Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine

Among the few reality shows I do NOT watch is Moonshiners, which, as the name implies, chronicles the existence of several producers of illegal moonshine in the Eastern United States. That may change now, because this past weekend I tried Junior Johnson's Midnight Moonshine and I am seriously hooked.

Heretofore my experience with moonshine (legal and illegal) was limited to one bleary night in college when one of my friends encouraged me to try some of the very potent moonshine he had brought back from Moldova. The cloudy libation, which he had smuggled into the country in several Gatorade bottles, tasted like something you might use to clean a copper kettle. But after a few swigs, I forgot I didn't like it. I also then forgot much of the remainder of the night.

When I spotted the mason jars of Midnight Moonshine at my corner liquor store, I was thus intrigued but wary of purchasing something that might in the end be nothing but fermented over-proof cough syrup. And the fact that this moonshine wasn't the "real" (re: illegal) thing did not mollify me, because God knows there's enough licit crap booze on the market.

The moment I unscrewed the lid, a strong scent of cinnamon filled my kitchen. After pouring a few ounces into a short glass, I quickly closed the jar lest my husband arrive home and mistakenly think I had made him a pie or something. Straight-up, the moonshine had a holiday autumnal heat extremely similar to that of a recently baked well-spiced apple pie. This dessert-like quality makes it conceivable one might try warming up a mugful in the microwave and garnishing it with whipped cream.

Since it was a muggy and hot day (rather than cool and crisp), I decided to mix some of the moonshine with ginger ale. I highly recommend this preparation, as the sweet liquor benefits greatly from the lift of the effervescent soda. For an even spicier, more playful cool fall cocktail, I would mix this moonshine with some potent ginger beer and serve it on the rocks.

At 70 proof, Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine is not as strong as standard hard alcohol (80 proof), which is perhaps why the majority of the recipes on the manufacturer's Web site involve drinking it with minimal mixers or a few ice cubes. The silky-sweet taste certainly makes this moonshine go down easy as, well, apple pie. Just remember to do as you do at Thanksgiving and pace yourself.

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