Hooch, Firewater and Moonshine
It’s a beverage that deepens the friendships and strengthens the spines of mountain people from the Appalachians to the Urals. Its producers have been discussed and celebrated in books, movies and reality television for decades. It’s also illegal and producing it without a license can result in jail time.
The product goes by many names—poteen in Ireland, samogon in Russia, “funeral tomorrow at 2 o’clock” in Tanzania. It’s moonshine, an unaged distilled drink that scores of countries produce as a cheap and often nasty way to get blasted. In “Moonshine: A Global History” (Reaktion, 2017), Kevin R. Kosar, a fellow at the R Street Institute, has produced an amiable little book that delves deeply into the culture and history of this ancient beverage.