Moonlight and magnolia, starlight in your hair… or something like that. It has turned cold and it is dark on the drive home, but the moon was shining and it is time for a drink. So, please, won’t you join me as we stand and make, Stars Fell on Alabama.
The inspiration for these drinks comes from all over, but this one is pretty on the nose. When I popped into grandma’s to deliver her mail from the box, I interrupted her evening viewing of The Lawrence Welk Show. There is something oddly comforting about that. I’m not a regular viewer, but it is always sort of nice to have it on, in the background, at the grands house. Because that’s the only place I ever see it. I’d say that’s the only place it exists, but I remember finding it on public television one night in the high desert of New Mexico. I was pretty down, missing home, feeling lonely and it was an odd comfort. Something definitely not of my generation, but a background sound from childhood. I used to hate that we had to watch it on Sunday evenings or whenever it came on, but now those are nice memories. Kind of like those summer days working in the fields that you hated or those halcyon days of high school or college that never really existed, but look so appealing through the veil of nostalgia. Hindsight is way better than 2020 ever thought about being.
As grandma and I talked about the day and the things we’ve lost I noticed the familiar strains of this song playing in the background and I knew what I would be making tonight. This is stirred drink, so grab your mixing pitcher and add 1 1/2 ounces of unaged, white, corn whiskey, colloquially known as moonshine, best acquired by searching under random pine trees with a note from your friendly neighborhood witch doctor. Add 1/4 ounce of absinthe, I went with Corsair Red; 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup and 2-3 dashes each of Angostura Bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters and rose water. Add ice and stir to the beat of Billie Holiday’s version of “Stars Fell on Alabama”, unless you want to track down Lawrence Welk’s instrumental version. When it is well chilled and you’ve gotten a little dilution to temper that hot moonshine bite, strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel.
Whooo! That’s a moonshine cocktail for certain. The addition of the absinthe and Peychaud’s balances it, but that high proof white lightning always asserts itself. In a good way though. You might want to serve this one in the rocks as some additional dilution makes this bloom nicely as it opens up the flavor.
It’s nice to have familiar things. I was surprised at how happy it made me to hear this old favorite song and to be standing with my grandma listening to Lawrence Welk. The older I get the more comforting it is to find those odd shared moments. I guess it is supply and demand and the free market working. As those experiences grow more rare, they become more dear. I’ve heard folks say that 2020 has taken so much from so many that it makes us appreciate the things we still have. I can believe it. So take a moment, and raise your glass to old tv shows, cheesy variety acts and time spent with family, they are worth more than we imagined. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.