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Atlanta Barbecue Restaurant GA State | BBQ Sports Bar

Barbecue, Beer & Moonshine, 8 days a week.

CLOSED FOR THE HOLIDAYS:

December 25th, 2018

December 31st, 2018 & January 1st, 2019

At Bullpen Rib House, located right next to GSU Stadium (formerly Turner Field), we serve customers throughout the year with our slow-smoked BBQ meats, cold brews and good old-fashioned hooch.

If you're looking for a great BBQ restaurant in Atlanta, look no further! We've been serving barbecue in Atlanta since '97. Enjoy our hickory smoked spare ribs, jumbo burgers, BBQ sandwiches, and much more.

Mon - Thurs 11am - 9pm

Fri 11am - 10pm Sat 12pm - 10pm

Sun 12pm - 7pm

Filtering by Category: Drinks

A Brief History Of Moonshine

A Shining History

Many of you may have noticed a new section popping up in your local liquor stores entitled Moonshine, but rest assured that this is far from a novel spirit. The history of the peculiar beverage can be traced back centuries to the Scots-Irish whose culture is highlighted by dancing, fiddling, and certainly a little imbibing. During the 17th century, this people were banished from the lowlands of Scotland to Ulster, Ireland. At first things were alright, but soon due to drought and religious persecution, the Scots-Irish boarded ships and brought their culture and customs to the Appalachian Mountains in America. This, my friends, was the 18th century beginning of a great American spirit.

The first surge in popularity of this crystal clear whiskey (see previous blog post for more fun facts) was due to the 1920 National Prohibition Act. While many states were nestled into bar stools crying into an empty lowball glass, Appalachian states such as Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee were laughing on their front porch swings, swigging from jugs containing the purest of pure.  Before long, and as with any coveted item where big money is involved, the vultures came out of the woodwork to capitalize on the profitable liquid. This influx of profits into the region made everyone and their pappy moonshiners. Stills (the apparatus created to develop the highly distilled product) began popping up in multitude, dotting the mountainsides with little burning flames. If you’d like a little more information about the functionality of the Moonshine still, as well as a little background on the infamous “XXX” seen on whiskey jugs in the Appalachia, you can find some interesting history here: Moonshine Heritage.

Although lucrative, Moonshining was risky business. The best at their craft often times had to pay large sums to local law enforcement and politicians. Even as pockets were being padded, the average whiskey maker/moonraker had to work by night to avoid discovery and arrest. This lead to the coined phrase “Moonshine” as often times the only light to work under was that of the moon itself. This risk also produced one of the mainstream sports in the American South today… Nascar. After the final product was packaged, the only way to transport this pricey commodity to major cities such as Atlanta was by car. Departing the counties where local politicians were in the pockets of the lead liquor producers tended to present problems in delivery costing thousands in losses as the drivers (aka runners aka bootleggers) were pulled over and carted off to jail. This began the competitions for the fastest drivers and after the end of prohibition, lead to the Nascar races we see today. Oh what a glorious history to be told. Shine of the moon worth that of gold. After the end of prohibition, the glory days of moonshine were thought to be over and although families continued to secretly brew their potent poisons, it was more for local, smaller profits and carefree consumption.

The more recent interest in the product was sparked due to the reality television obsession of highlighting sub-cultures within the American population. As you may guess, the Appalachian people (along with the swamp cultures of Louisiana) were among the first to gain a following. The Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners was the initial television show to follow the lives of some of the people behind the corn-mash fermented liquor. Within this show, clips of the infamous 2002 documentary film “Marvin ‘Popcorn’ Sutton” were utilized to enhance the storyline. If you want even more history about the trade, I would definitely recommend checking out the old geezer (Poporn) in action. 

Reader’s Warning/PSA/Spoiler Alert: His exposure landed him jail where he committed suicide to avoid slow death from cancer. 

Apart from televised shenanigans, the biggest influence that pushed ‘Shine’ into the spotlight was the beginning of the recession in 2008. With hard times casting foreboding storm clouds over many states, the Appalachia loosened distilling laws and released a potent shot of white lightening to brighten the skies. For those that didn’t pick up on my clever metaphor, basically states were attempting to profit off any untapped resource hence why Mary Jane is dancing out West and Moonshine is now taxable. To read some fancy facts about the matter, check out this Time News’ article (active link). Although the proof found on the market is nearly half that of the real deal that comes from Mary Ann’s uncle up the ‘holler’, it’s legal and proven safe. No need to burn the liquor to test for brain damaging impurities. Now, all you need is a mason jar, a couple of ice cubes, and a full-proof recipe for infusing  (see previous blog post) and you’ll be sitting pretty on your front porch as well.

 Our Apple Pie Moonshine

Our Apple Pie Moonshine


Melon Infused Vodka

Cantaloupe Infused Tito's Vodka

You might wonder, why bother to infuse vodka when you can get a plethora of "infused" vodkas straight from the shelf. Well, that Cherry Noir Grey Goose off the shelf has never seen a cherry, for one, and it tastes like nail polish for a nice kicker!

So what exactly is in that bottle of Cherry Noir Grey Goose? Try not to doze off but here's a bit of chemistry; you've got three compounds that make up the artificial cherry flavor; benzaldehyde (primary used as almond flavor), linalool (a floral, citrus flavor) and eugenol (essence of clove). The amounts used of those three compounds would determine whether you get a overly medicine taste (eugenol), a fruity taste (linalool) or a bitter taste (benzaldehyde).

OK, that's all well and good but why do these so called high class vodka's use artificial flavors? Well if they used actual cherries they would have to put an expiration date on it, much like all the unpasteurized craft beer that goes out of date in two months time. They also don't want to go through the time and effort involved in using real cherries and prefer the ease and consistency of using artificial flavors. 

Well, enough about cherries, let's get back to melon! Now that we know we're going to use real melons, we're going to need two ripe cantaloupes. When dicing them up, make sure that you're generous and cut deep so none of the bitter rind is left on the slices.

Now, you're left to choose the vodka. Don't go wasting money on Kettle One or any other vodka with a bloated price tag. Instead go for a reasonably cheap, yet decent, vodka like Tito's or Smirnoff... either will do just fine. I also add some sugar. Although there is a reasonable amount in the cantaloupe, it's not really enough to overpower the bitterness of the vodka. This extra dose of sugar will do wonders in letting those fresh, fruity flavors shine through. I add one and a half cups of plain white sugar and then dump in two, one liter bottles of Tito's.

Time to let it sit for three to four days, making sure you give it a good stir every day. What's happening in these magical days is hydrolysis and osmosis. If you can bear some more science, the reactive hydroxyl (-OH) group within the alcohol will interact with the cell wall and membrane which will cause an increase in porosity. With larger holes in addition to the steep concentration gradient, the water within the cantaloupe, along with all the tasty aromatic compounds found there, will diffuse into the surrounding alcohol. The longer you leave it, the greater the chance that the larger molecules will move along with the water. Although some of these compounds are flavorful, you need to be careful as the really large, soluble fiber molecules (pectin) can get into the alcohol and those suckers tend to taste very nasty and bitter. With that being said, don't just leave the cantaloupe in there and forget about it or your batch will be bitter!

Unfiltered melon vodka. 

After three to four days you should have a liquid with a translucent, yellow hue. You can then filter away the tidbits of melon with a cheese cloth, bottle it up, and leave it to age for a month or longer if you can muster the restraint. 

Filtered and bottled.

Now for the tasting; do this weekly, testing for improvement. Once you arrive at a week where the flavor has plateaued, you're ready to serve it up. Try it straight up over ice or in a cocktail. Here at the Bullpen Rib House, we mix it with a splash of pineapple juice and a squeeze of fresh lime for our infamous, Melon Madness cocktail. 

The Melon Madness: Melon infused Tito's with a splash of pineapple & a squeeze of lime.

Apple Pie Moonshine

So, How Do We Make Our Apple Pie Moonshine?


We don't usually give out our secret recipes, but today I'm feeling generous. With that being said, get ready and I'll let you guys & gals in on the basics of how to make our apple pie moonshine.

Moonshine.jpg

It all begins with some good ole' fashioned moonshine (also referred to by locals as white lightening, corn whiskey, hooch, creek water, etc). A sudden rise in popularity, attributed to reality shows such as Tickle and The Hatfield and McCoys, has brought moonshine to the attention of liquor connoisseurs across America. Previously, this little known drink was illegally brewed in the Appalachian mountains and foothills across the South with a proof so strong, locals would recommend burning it before imbibing to test for safety. "If it burns blue, it's safe for the whole crew."

Nowadays, the powers at be have dropped the proof to a legal range, marketed the heck out of the stuff, and made it available to the general public. Although traditional moonshine drinkers would scoff at the meager 47% alcohol content, it's safe to say this is the closest most of us will get to trying the infamous liquor created from fermenting corn mash.

One of the most distinctive features of moonshine is the smooth flavor which is quickly followed by an intense burn in the back of the throat. In order to combat this "fire water" property, a lot of individuals and businesses have begun infusing their moonshine, us included. The very first infusion was created to mimic Southern Apple Pie, and although we now have a plethora of others, the apple pie remains a customer favorite. Now, for what you've been waiting for: the recipe.       

The ingredients you will need to start the infusion process are sugar, apple cider, cinnamon and moonshine (we use Midnight Moon). If you're a Yankee or a West Coaster and moonshine isn't as easily accessible, then you can substitute vodka with a similar outcome. In addition to the above ingredients, one also has the option of using real apples. You might ask, "Why bother?" Well, as a simple explanation, the alcohol in the moonshine will extract flavors in the apples that aren't present in the apple cider. If you choose this route, the trick is to cut the apples into small pieces (higher surface area) and only leave it in the alcohol for a maximum of five days. Why five days? Well any more and the alcohol will start to dissolve the soluble fiber (the pectin)  thus leaving a nasty, bitter tasting, unsaleable liquid.

 I usually use Granny Smith, but I couldn't find any this time.

I usually use Granny Smith, but I couldn't find any this time.

 Massive mason jar is optional.

Massive mason jar is optional.

 I use Saigon cinnamon, as it's the one with the most kick.

I use Saigon cinnamon, as it's the one with the most kick.

After three to five days, it's now time to strain off the shine from the apple chunks and add cinnamon. As with the apples, you don't want to leave the cinnamon in there for too long. I would recommend one or two days max. Make sure you use whole cinnamon (sticks or pieces) and not the powder, otherwise you will have a blast straining it for the rest of your life.

Once the cinnamon is removed, go ahead and dump in the apple cider and sugar. It's best to use cold press apple cider here. At this point, I do some optional steps like adding caramelized sugar and molasses, as well as another ingredient about which I must remain tight lipped. 

Some caramelized sugar, don't forget your candy thermometer for this step.

The amount of sugar to add is going to depend on your preference. If you choose not to use caramelized sugar, I would suggest around 1 1/2 cups of sugar to every 750 ml of 80-100 proof alcohol. It's best to start low with one cup first, giving a full day for the sugar to dissolve, then tasting to see if the amount is sufficient for your liking. 

After all the ingredients have been added, it's now time for the aging process. This takes at least a week, keeping in mind that the longer you leave it, the better it will taste. I haven't gone longer than three months, due to seeming evaporation, so I don't know if it gets any better after that time period. I have heard that leaving it for as long as 6 months makes a difference, but my patience (or lack thereof) won't allow this.

I should mention that after about a week, I go ahead and use a cheese cloth to strain off any apple particles, which you should hopefully have from using a good quality apple cider. You more or less will have a finished product to taste once it's strained. So go ahead and taste your product mid-way through aging if you like. 

And that folks, is how you infuse moonshine. Hopefully, this article has given new meaning to the Rocky Top lyrics:

Corn don't grow at all on Rocky Top, 
It's too rocky by far, 
That's why all the folks on Rocky Top, 
Get their corn from a jar...
 

(moonshine aka corn mash aka what you'll find in a big ole Mason Dixon jar!)

 Make your own and compare it to ours or if you can't be bothered, just come in and try ours. ( 1 )

Make your own and compare it to ours or if you can't be bothered, just come in and try ours. (1)

Basic Recipe

  • 750 ml of 80-100 proof alcohol
  • 500 ml of cold pressed apple cider
  • 2 oz of cinnamon
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of sugar

 Bullpen Rib House, (404) 577-5774, 735 Pollard Blvd SW, Atlanta, 30315.

BBQ, Beer & Moonshine

Atlanta Restaurant