As I sit here at Stony Ford with 2ft of snow on the ground and a biting 4 degrees temperature outside, that doesn’t even take into consideration the windchill factor, all I can think of is how can I make myself warm. You all know what I mean, when the temperature inside is warm but you can’t shake that chilly feeling. There are some temperatures that just seem to creep in no matter how high you set the thermostat. So, I’m sure you can figure out where the cocktail name 4˚ Below comes from.
Well, there is nothing like a little moonshine to help warm you to the bone. I like my brown liquors and you will often see me drink them neat or with a small cube, but moonshine on the other hand has a whole life of its own. Moonshine (Straight corn whisky) has an extra burn to it and thats why if its homemade or bought from a store it usually has some kind of fruit in it, to soften the blow. My first introduction to moonshine was by mistake, and one I will never forget. My grandfather and his brothers owned a hunting cabin near Mt. Jackson Virginia, and we would go several times a year to hunt and have fun, but everytime we went to the cabin something with the plumbing was always broken or frozen. We would typically unload the van and then head to the door on the porch that housed the plumbing. While someone was trying to fix the pipes, someone else was in charge of starting a fire in the the fireplace, which was our only source of heat. There was no glamping here of any kind, but that being said it was a lot of fun also. Anyway, one day after we were out all day hunting we came back to the cabin to realize that the plumbing didn’t work, no surprise here. I was about 10 years old or younger at the time, a growing boy and I was thirsty. I knew we kept jugs of water around for just such purposes, so I grabbed one and took a giant gulp and just about dropped it to the floor. From my mouth to my gut I could feel the most horrible burning sensation. I’m heaving and gasping for air and the entire room of guys starts bursting out laughing at me. They are laughing so hard that tears are coming from their eyes and someone is on the floor. Meanwhile I feel like I could breath fire. Come to find out someone had a still in the woods and they were making moonshine and I grabbed the wrong bottle. Lesson learned, smell before you drink!
To this day, every time I take a sip of moonshine I think of that day and the fire within. Now that I’m grown up (at least in age) I can appreciate a good moonshine (or at least the commercial version). So with the icy cold temperature outside I knew exactly what would warm me up. Like I stated before moonshine has an extra burn to it so I wanted to find a way to soften the blow. I knew just the thing, although maybe unorthodox, the French bitter liqueur Suze would do the job nicely. Suze is a bitter but it is more on the sweeter side with a citrus and floral taste to it. This is the perfect taste to offset the roughness of the moonshine. To boost the citrus flavor a bit more I added a twist of lemon, which puts the finishing touches on the cocktail.
I hope you enjoy and stay warm, the winter is almost over, fingers crossed! And be careful how warm you get with the moonshine, it creeps up on you.
Serve with an ice cube and rim the glass with the lemon twist.