Some of my best employee’s over the years, have been men who had the “opportunity” to spend a little time in the pokey.

Dave was one of those men. He and I were talking about life behind bars one afternoon. He’d been in the Cook County Jail more than once.

We got onto the topic of making jail house  hooch.

I love learning about stuff like that.

It’s not about getting a buzz  for me as much as discovering  how something works.

As Dave put it, “When you’re behind bars, you have a lot of time on your hands   This is just one more thing to do to break up  your  day.”


Making home made hooch runs in my family.  Can’t say anyone is  currently is doing it, as far as I know, but when my grandpa was a young man during the prohibition, it was a family affair.

Before my grandpa passed away,   My son John and I stopped by his  house  with a  tape recorder.  I  wanted to record him  retelling the stories I’d heard  growing up.

One of  my favorite stories was about he and his brother making moonshine.  (Found out later their dad (my great grandfather) was also in on the operation.)  There were 8 boys in the family, and apparently the still was  hidden in a hog feeder.  I asked grandpa to tell me the story again..for the first time ever, he gave me the recipe 😉

You take a hundred pounds of sugar,  a bushel of Rye.  let it soak for a week.  Put it on the stove, bring it to a boil.  In  the lid you have a hole to let the steam out.  Attach  a coil of  tube to the hole .  Put the end of the tube in the jug.  That’s all there is to it.


When I think about  alcohol  (now) the first  thing  that comes to my mind  is “ Who is in Control?”

The booze or me?

There is nothing innately evil about alcohol  in itself.

It is what it is.

I probably have 3 or 4  servings of  alcohol   a years.

My struggles are  in other areas.

I don’t believe you have to completely abstain to be in good standing with The Almighty.

You live long enough and you discover,  alcohol has a mind of it’s own.

Just ask someone who’s addicted .

That’s why  early in our marriage my wife and I  decided we would not drink unless we were in the company of each other.

(Or immediate family).

Stopping @ the bar after work for a couple of beers is a great way to undermine your marriage.

If you really want to  be  radical,  next time you’re out with your friends   order  ice water with lemon…

…or coffee (black) :-)

It messes with people’s minds.

Besides,  alcohol makes me sleepy.


18 thoughts on “Moonshine

  1. Oh do Lithuanians know about alcohol and moonshine. 🙂 I had seen stuff being brewed. Grandpa used to make things. Gorbachev started prohibition, we would get like coupons for 2 bottles of vodka per month (for many people that was a VERY DRY period!), and everyone started brewing moonshine. Some got poisoned on bad stuff. Prohibition did not stop drinking. On my American side of the family, there was a man smuggling alcohol from South America to the states during prohibition. You stop the gates, but liquor finds the way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • you know I really have no desire to drink the stuff but from a scientific standpoint, I think it would be fun to experiment with different technique….having said that, I do like sweet wine…which is why I will probably never start making it..I am afraid it would get it’s claws into me

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scott, Wikipedia says: “During 1985-1987 Mikhail Gorbachev carried out an anti-alcohol campaign with partial prohibition,[7] colloquially known as the “dry law”. Prices of vodka, wine and beer were raised, and their sales were restricted in amount and time of day. People who were caught drunk at work or in public were prosecuted.

        The reform had an effect on alcoholism in the country, as evident from statistics showing some fall in criminality and rise in life expectancy, but economically it was a serious blow to the state budget (a loss of approximately 100 billion rubles to the exchequer according to Alexander Yakovlev) after alcohol production migrated to the black market economy.”

        It did not work very well, so they abandoned the idea in late 80s. Alcoholism is very bad over there though, people would just show up drunk at work, etc, drive machinery, get hurt. Many families torn because of alcohol. But we also do make some really good one, like mead.

        Check this out, some anti-alcohol propaganda posters. Also, interesting it says Vladimir the Great rejected Islam for his country because he loved vodka too much. :):

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe I am really naive, although I do know that a lot of ‘unscheduled’ and likely very illegal things go on behind bars, but how do inmates manage to make alcohol without being found out?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s what he told me…they used a plastic garbage bag with the ingredients (bread yeast, fruit juices, apple peels etc.) and had it stuffed under the bed/ mattress etc. Sounds yummy doesn’t it? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A couple things make it truly impossible for me to become an alcoholic, although I quite enjoy beer and a little harder stuff – bourbon in particular. First, terrible heartburn. I look at a bottle of bourbon and the pain starts. No joke. Second, it’s so dang expensive! Haha.
    I’ve never made shine, but made plenty of beer. I love the creativity that can go into beer and the resulting nuances in flavor and aroma, and so I love the “craft brewing” going on now. But again, the $$$…
    Sigh so there’s Coors in my fridge. It was a Christmas present. And a jar of cherries soaked in bourbon, a gift from my mom. (Awesome in fudgey brownies!) That’s all the alcohol I have. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know what, I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on the “why” I wanted to try it until just now and your comment..It is the “craft” component! I have that same impulse in the to tweak my culinary skills in the kitchen, whether it’s experimenting with a new meatloaf recipe or home made chicken pot pies, breads, etc.


  4. Do you remember my telling the tale of that big oak tree they saved in my town? The one they literally picked up and moved? Well, there was another tree not so far away (that escaped the developers). It was the “moonshine tree” — the one underwhich some of guys buried their jugs of ‘shine to keep it away from the revenuers. What times!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I didn’t realize how easy it is to make moonshine. But I confess, I have no idea how much a bushel is. Shocking I know! 😜 And as a reformed drinker I stand in agreement with alcohol being in control. At least for me. And. On a completely unrelated note, Downton Abby is on PBS. Last season. Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I only made one alcohol mistake in my life and that was when I accepted a shot glass full of 110% proof potcheen.
    2 days later I awoke in a hospital bed and a throat that couldn’t even stand cold water!
    “NEVER AGAIN” was a cast iron rule for me after that.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Probably is, although the mash is also heavy with potatoes.

        There are plenty of “recipes” for the mash on the internet but most use sugar.

        The old (real) stuff NEVER adds sugar, that all comes from the potatoes.
        Ultimately the bite is in the skill of the distiller.


    • Great read 🙂 I kept waiting for them to include the whole booklet there on how to make the “blue flame” and I love the translation of it in Arabic…”my friend”


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