This is the smallest so far of our line-up of small tasting rooms, though I think One Woman’s room is even smaller. There’s barely room for a short bar with about six stools, and not much else, though in good weather there is additional seating outside, on the porch and in the front yard of what was once evidently a house. Previously, it had been a little deli, on Sound Avenue.
From the name, you can probably deduce that this is not a winery. In fact, it is a distillery, and the name moonshine refers to the source of its alcohol—corn! They make a clear liquor called Moonshine, plus a variety of flavored liqueurs which can be used as after-dinner sippers or combined into cocktails, a number of which they will make for you on the premises. In fact, when we arrived, we found a couple enjoying cocktails and a chat with the lively and friendly server. The server slipped a copy of their cocktail recipes into the bag with the bottle of coffee liqueur we bought.
Each taste comes in a tiny earthenware cup, a reflection of the owners’ Portuguese heritage, for $3. A standard flight is three for $9, but one can try as many as one likes, though given the high proof, three is probably plenty. We were sharing sips, so we tried four. They also have three or four local beers on tap, I guess in case a group includes someone who doesn’t want hard liquor.
In addition to their own product, the tasting room has a small selection of local products and t-shirts with their logo. We also noted a sampler box of four small bottles of their flavored drinks. A 375 ml. bottle costs $22.
We decided to start with their unflavored product, a 100-proof corn liquor. I immediately detected a slightly yeasty aroma and a smooth, almost caramel flavor. Did I taste roasted corn? Yes, indeed. It is surprisingly easy to drink, given its high alcohol content, but it is not something I’d choose to sip neat. Our server noted that many people will buy the unflavored version to take home and make their own liqueurs, which they sometimes bring in and urge her to taste, a favor she declines.
- Maple Pecan 60 proof
Many of their products are made with local ingredients, we were told, but the maple syrup for this comes from upstate. My tasting pal immediately dubbed this “dangerously drinkable,” and our server noted that some people will put it on their breakfast pancakes. That’ll get your day off to a fun start. She also said some people will add it to coffee, and agreed with us that it would go well on vanilla or butter pecan ice cream, for a very adult ice cream sundae. I mostly tasted the maple, not much of the pecan.
- Coffee 80 proof
As a fan of Kahlua, I was interested to try the coffee. Made from espresso beans (which are not grown on the North Fork, but, we theorized, could have been roasted here), this tastes like coffee with a kick. I could see making a Black Russian with this (a drink I used to really like, until one time I had one too many…).
- Honey 80 proof
When I have a bad cold, with a sore throat, I like to make myself a hot toddy. This would be perfect in one, or just poured into a nice hot cup of tea. It is also an interesting way to sweeten iced tea, which, with a twist of lemon, is one of their suggested cocktails. It is quite smooth, and definitely tastes like honey, with a trace of that roasted corn flavor. She wasn’t sure whose honey went into it, but I noted bottles of Miss Molly’s honey, made in Riverhead, on the shelf.
Reasons to visit: you’re ready for something a little different; you like liqueurs; you want to try some moonshine; the cocktails; the coffee flavor. I wouldn’t recommend this with a group, except in warm weather, when you could sit outside.
Enjoying your excursions to breweries and distilleries, beyond the wineries.