White Lightning Strikes
Moonshine has deep roots in American history. Looking to avoid the federal tax placed on liquors after the American Revolution, many began producing the high-proof spirit illegally in backwoods Appalachia. The spirit gained notoriety during Prohibition when the sale and consumption of alcohol were banned, but the public soon lost interest once Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
Now the clear spirit is making a comeback, and business partners David Kazarian, Robert Wechsler, and Jay Clark are riding the trend’s wave with their restaurant Mash’d. Located in Frisco, Texas, Mash’d serves American cuisine with an emphasis on moonshine.
Those imbibing at Mash’d will not find the typical sports bar vibe: Televisions broadcast everything from the Travel Channel to a live Twitter feed to the Food Network—all on mute. Kazarian and his business partners were adamant about creating a space for people to meet up, drink moonshine, and have a conversation without the television blaring in the background.
Moonshine can be found not only on the restaurant’s beverage menu but also on its food menu. Fresh Prince Edward Island mussels are sautéed in a moonshine infused with jalapeño, tomato, and garlic, while the restaurant’s chicken wings are drenched in a moonshine barbecue sauce.
But it is the process of introducing customers to moonshine that Kazarian takes the most pride in.
“I think the mystique behind moonshine brings in a lot of first timers,” Kazarian says. “It’s our job to deliver on the entire experience, which is what our passion is.”
The team at Mash’d does this by finding out what a customer’s personal flavor preference is and then directing the guest to a drink on the menu that best matches those tastes. Popular cocktails on the menu include the Jolly Rancher, a watermelon-infused moonshine with lime and sugar, and the Pineapple Bomb—a pineapple- and vanilla bean–infused moonshine with lemon sour and crushed ice.
For those feeling a bit more ambitious, Mash’d also offers the spirit straight, in a selection of moonshine flights each of which includes four different moonshines that complement one another.
“Men and women alike are delighted to find out that oftentimes they love moonshine,” Kazarian says. “Moonshine has more personality than vodka. Vodka has a tendency to disappear when it’s infused, whereas moonshine comes to life. So it’s a very approachable spirit, and it’s a lot of fun.”