Don't believe the hype? Rent the movie Lawless and check out the photos below of the area's largest moonshine still bust-up, taken in 1972:
Around the holidays it's not unusual for someone to show up at a formal cocktail party in my hometown with one of the region's best-preserved heritage cocktails: damson berry moonshine. It's made by steeping wild damson berries (photo below) in the spirit at the height of the fruit's summer season.
Come Christmas, the concoction is bright, purply-red, sweet, and festive over ice.
Old-timers create the traditional recipe by mixing a cup of sugar, a cup of fruit, and moonshine in a half-gallon mason jar. This how-to video for damson berry gin is also good tutorial (BTW I had no idea that damson berries were such big part of British food culture too).
And while I would love to be home picking wild damson berries in August, that is sadly probably not going to happen any summer soon. But here's the good news: there IS a way to achieve a similar outcome (and reddish color) in less time. I recently made fruit-infused moonshine with organic raspberries and it worked. All it took was making a super-dense raspberry simple syrup, and mixing it with LEGAL Virginia Lightning (pictured below). I added whole berries later. Raspberries are a lot more sour than damson berries so I made the simple syrup really sweet.
I'm no mixologist but here's how it turned out:
All that's left now is inviting a few friends over to imbibe with me. But I still can't wait to taste the real thing when I'm home!