We’re always down to try something new. When the opportunity arises to test taste a product, we pounce on it without hesitation. It’s exciting to see what is on the market, especially when it’s fare you have not encountered in the local area. California has no end of locally produced, interesting items, but there is an entire world out there of new ingredients. Not too long ago, a big, brown box arrived on the stoop. Inside were two bottles–bottles we’ve never seen before. They were both a variety of North Carolina moonshine. Now this was something that needed our attention. Piedmont Distillers was one of the sponsors of LA Helps LA–a Gulf restoration benefit organized by Gisele Perez, owner of Small Pleasures Catering. Piedmont sent us a couple bottles of their infamous brew a few days prior to the event. We were giddy with anticipation. We’re familiar with a majority of booze out there, but we’ve never sipped moonshine or anything close to it. Maybe because the idea of doing so strikes fear into the hearts of many, including us. Frankly, we didn’t know it existed in a format created for wide distribution. What started as a backyard brew throughout the South in response to Prohibition, is now available in a safe mainstream edition at your local drink dispensary.
Piedmont produces two varieties of moonshine. The first, Midnight Moonshine, resembles your conceived image of the drink–clear, unassuming liquid in a simple glass container. Though it’s only 80 proof–40% alcohol like many standard liquors–it packs a punch. A very strong punch. Piedmont suggests using Midnight as you would any vodka in your favorite cocktail. Supposedly, it’s surprisingly smooth mixed with fresh lemonade. The other moonshine we received is Catdaddy–dark, pungent, earthy. There are continuous layers of flavor in each swig, but it is hard to pinpoint the ingredients. They remain a tip top secret. Not even the company reps are privy to this knowledge. The best way to describe the taste is to imagine hints of vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and citrus swirled about with a spoon. To be honest, as soon as you remove the plugs on both bottles, you are hit with two very distinct aromas reminiscent of what moonshine must’ve smelled like way back in the day. It’s good that they provide a list of cocktails to make at home with the liquors as we were a bit stumped where to start. Midnight Moon proved to be a bit too prominent for our taste, so we stuck with Catdaddy. Though it has a very distinct taste itself, it has a few more complementary properties for mixers.
It was suggested that Catdaddy be mixed with root beer. That was a starting point for us. We had some ginger beer in the fridge following our last dinner party and paired it with a splash of whiskey to make our own custom cocktail. If we had to choose, Catdaddy would rise above Midnight Moon for its better ability to mix well with others. Although it may not be the first liquor we’d pull down from the cabinet for a cocktail, we can think of a few ways it would work for with food–pumpkin pie, braised mushrooms, a hearty marinade, etc. As usual, the fun of exploring new tastes in the kitchen never goes away.
Catdaddy Ginger Splash – Serves 2
6 ounces Catdaddy Moonshine
2 ounces whiskey
8 ounces ginger beer
Lemon or orange, garnish
Fill two 8-ounce glasses with ice. Add 3 ounces of Catdaddy and 1 ounce of your favorite whiskey to each glass. Split the ginger beer between both glasses. Serve with a garnish of lemon or orange.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.