Prohibition was one of the darkest times in our country’s past, I mean, obviously it wasn’t as bad as slavery, the Civil War, the assassinations of Lincoln & Kennedy, or even the emergence of Hawthorne Heights, but it was still pretty shitty. So, when I was offered a sample of Manhattan Moonshine, “Prohibition-style whiskey,” I was intrigued.
Was it distilled in bathtubs? Distributed in hidden compartments of some soccer mom’s Ford Flex? Found solely in password-protected speakeasies (Password is Dingleberry Dream)? Nope. None of these. There’s a distillery in New York distilling a mix of rye and oats (oats?) that kinda touches an oak barrel, but not really. At 47%, it’s a bit higher of an ABV than your standard 80 proof whiskeys, but I’m not sure if it’s any better.
See, I like the smokiness of Scotch, the vanilla/wood combo I get from Bourbon, and the blackout drunk I get from the lack of complexity of Canadian blends, so when I have a whiskey that has spent “less than an hour” ageing in an oak barrel, I’m going to give it a bit of a side-eye. However, even with the weird creamy mouth feel from the oats (oats?), it’s not too shabby.
I got all of two little 50 ml bottles (well, 1 1/2, one of them leaked in transit), so I admittedly don’t have a lot of experience with what this shit can do. I took a sip of it neat, and while it’s not the worst, I don’t know if the flavors are complex enough to bother. So I made a cocktail.
I muddled four leaves of mint, a sprig of lavender, and a sage leaf with a tsp of sugar and a dash (or three) of bitters. Then shook it up with the juice of a tangerine and an ounce of sweet vermouth and my 75 ml of Manhattan Moonshine and strained it into an tumbler with a large ice sphere. My little Garden Gimlet ain’t half bad on this HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN DEGREE SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DAY. Maybe that’s the real beauty of Manhattan Moonshine, it doesn’t make you feel like shit on a hot day.