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Taking the edge off moonshine as a dessert

Looking for moonshine north Mason-Dixline?Junior Johnson's elixer is MIdnight Moavailable Binny's Beverage Depot.

Looking for moonshine north of the Mason-Dixon line?Junior Johnson's elixer is MIdnight Moon and available at Binny's Beverage Depot.

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Updated: August 30, 2013 3:17PM

In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I ran into Seth, and asked him where to procure moonshine.

“White lightening?” he asked, bemused. “Sure. I can get you some.”

Knowing-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy was once the only way toscore un-aged corn liquor. During prohibition, Junior Johnson ran moonshine hereabouts in his souped-up vehicle. After prohibition, and a prison stint, Johnson’s illicit business dried up but he still had a fast car. He went on to become a NASCAR legend.

Down South, illegal moonshine is not hard to find, though its popularity seems largely owing to regional pride and gangster cache. There’s almost no price difference between legal and illegal hooch.

Up north, moonshine is increasingly available. Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon is at Binny’s ($19.99), and it comes in many flavors. Even among mountain folk, it’s common to tart up the liquor with fruits to take the edge off. You can sip moonshine-based cocktails at Dragon Ranch Moonshine & BBQ (441 N. Clark) and at Lillie’s Q (1856 W. North), but I’m most intrigued by what you can do with moonshine as an ingredient in food.

Gunnar Thompson, chef of Elements at Primland in Dan, Virginia, mixes moonshine with fruit, but it’s for eatingnot drinking. Here’s a simplified recipe for a moonshine-enhanced dessert:

1. Place 4 freestone peach halves on hot pan, skin side up; cook for 4 minutes, flip, and cook 2 more minutes

2. Into each peach put ½ tbsp. butter, brown sugar and moonshine; cook until butter bubbles; flip to glaze peaches

3. Serve with ice cream and berries

— David Hammond

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