4 Fun Facts About Moonshine

Moonshine has earned a unique place in American history, one that represents ingenuity and creativity. The original American moonshiners were sneaky and courageous, standing up for themselves when the government disallowed alcohol production during Prohibition.

In honor of those brave souls, here are four fun facts about moonshine:

Moonshine is a slang term, not a particular type of alcohol

The term “moonshine” refers to any illicit activity occurring at night — under the moon’s light. During Prohibition, these types of activities would be performed at night to avoid detection by law enforcement. Because most illegal stills operated at night, the spirits they produced were eventually named moonshine.

Over the decades, Americans have coined their own slang words to describe moonshine. Some of these include White Lightning, Hooch, Mountain Dew and Home-brew.

The first moonshiners were British

Although most people associate moonshine with the backwoods distillers in the Appalachians, the term “moonshine” was actually first used in Britain. British distillers produced whiskey, gin and other spirits illicitly to avoid taxation by the British government.

Moonshine bootleggers were impressively creative

During Prohibition, bootleggers — those tasked with illegally transporting moonshine — had to be creative when it came to moving the product undetected by law enforcement. One popular method of smuggling moonshine involved staging funeral processions. Faking a funeral was a convenient ruse because authorities were reluctant to stop a funeral procession out of respect for the dead.

Wearing “cow shoes” was another popular bootlegging method. To disguise their footprints, bootleggers attached cow hoofs to the bottoms of their shoes. The hoof prints were meant to deter law enforcement, who often tracked criminal operations by looking for human footprints.

Cocktails became popular with moonshine during Prohibition

Much of the Prohibition-era’s moonshine tasted so bad that drinkers and bartenders mixed in various ingredients to make the spirits more tolerable. Gin was one of the most popular beverages of the era because it was cheap and easy to produce. Drinkers would flavor gin with honey and sweet fruit juices to mask its flavor. Rum was another popular, yet foul-tasting, Prohibition spirit. A cocktail invented in the 1920s called The Mary Pickford mixed rum and red grapefruit juice.

Beginning in the late 1980s, bartenders and restaurants sought to recreate the atmosphere of the Prohibition-era speakeasy by serving creative cocktails that mixed spirits with various ingredients.

While today’s moonshine tastes better on its own, cocktails are still as popular as ever — especially canned cocktails like Crystal Ridge Distillery’s exclusive line of vodka sodas. “The Pack” is a four-pack of ready-to-drink cocktails in three unique flavors, orange, blueberry and raspberry. Each can contains 9% alcohol.

Visit Crystal Ridge Distillery at 455 Broadway St. or call 501-627-0722 for more information.

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