White lightning, bathtub gin, hooch.
Those are some of the nicknames the dictionary lists for illegally produced liquor. There are many more, but the one most people are familiar with is, of course, moonshine.
“It’s whiskey,” says Joe Cunha, co-owner of Twin Stills Moonshine, which opened in March in Riverhead. “Moonshine is the fanciful name. Generally everyone knows corn liquor is moonshine, but we hold onto that name for the mystique.”
Joe and his wife, Patricia, brew their moonshine — made from a corn mash that’s fermented and distilled — in a pair of imported copper stills that gave their Sound Avenue business its name.
Joe learned about distilling during visits to his grandfather in Portugal, who owned two distilleries there and used similar equipment.
The Cunhas make five flavors of moonshine: apple pie, coffee, honey, strawberry and 100 proof straight. The flavored spirits sell for $20 a bottle; the straight is $25.
Along with tastings and bottled moonshine, the Cunhas offer specialty drinks that showcase the versatility of their products.
“What’s nice about the moonshines is they’re very user-friendly,” Patricia said. “That’s why, with every bottle we sell, we give our recipes out. We want you to be comfortable with what you bought, know how to make things with it and enjoy it.”
Here are five cocktails you can order at the Twin Stills Moonshine tasting room or make yourself at home.
Combine eight ounces of cranberry juice with one ounce or one shot of apple pie moonshine. Pour over ice and add a twist of lemon.
“It’s so flavorful, because there’s so many different spices as well as flavors in the apple pie.” — Patricia Cunha
Middle together fresh strawberries and one shot of strawberry or 100 proof moonshine and pour over ice. Add two or three teaspoons of sugar, to taste.
“Our strawberry moonshine is made with fresh strawberries — no frozen, no syrups, no artificial coloring. That’s why they blend together so nicely.”
One shot each of strawberry, apple pie and 100 proof moonshine, poured over ice. Add a splash of Coca-Cola.
“Joe and I decided to do the Bootlegger because that’s where it all came from, back when bootleggers used to bring in all their ’shines.”
Frickin’ Lickin’ Good Tea
Cold iced tea with one shot of honey moonshine, poured over ice. Add a twist of lemon.
“It’s refreshing, it’s got a nice little kick to it and it’s good. You can put this in hot tea, make a nice hot toddy. All you need is imagination.”
The O’old Tymer
Drizzle caramel sauce on the inside of a glass of ice and add one shot of apple pie moonshine.
“This is an homage to Joe’s grandfather, [who] made grappa back in the day, so we dedicate this to him.”
Twin Stills Moonshine is located at 5506 Sound Ave.,