No, this moonshine won’t make you go blind. And, no, it’s not against the law.
This isn’t the first time that Justin, the plaid shirt-clad general manager of Mash’d, has had to reassure a customer.
“At a certain proof, it’s illegal, but ours are totally legal,” he says. He points to a huge shelving unit with stacks of colorful jars—all of them filled with flavored moonshine. “No Molotov cocktails here.”
I am mildly disappointed, but not surprised. Mash’d is a moonshine bar, yes, but it’s nestled in the sprawling suburbia of Frisco. There is a Steak & Shake across the street and cute little succulents atop every table. Rest assured that any bar with the word “mixology” on the menu probably isn’t doling out illicit bathtub-brewed booze.
Mash’d opened a few months ago, but the joint is already buzzing. The decor is all dark woods and red bricks; the space above the bar is decorated with a collage of pop-culture images: Will Ferrell’s Gene “More Cowbell” Frenkle character, the Easy Rider guys, Frank Sinatra’s mug shot, the Atari logo. The chalkboard behind us reads: “Moonshine makes you prettier, smarter, happier, skinnier. Results may vary.”
Apparently it worked for our cute, dark-haired waitress, Suzanne. She possesses rapid-fire knowledge of the menu and every drink on it. I assumed she’d worked here since the place opened, but she tells us it has been only two weeks since she left her busy job as an assistant manager at Nick & Sam’s to serve up moonshine.
“I got sick of the hustle and bustle,” she says.
“Are you happier here?” I ask.
But to business: Suzanne explains the menu, which includes salads, sandwiches, seafood, and a hot-fudge sundae with caramel moonshine-infused whipped cream. “Hillbilly mixology” refers to the colorful collection of specialty moonshine cocktails (with names like “Blue Moon Mojito” and “Jolly Rancher”). There’s beer, wine, and, oh yeah, 27 flavors of moonshine.
At Suzanne’s suggestion, I order the delicious Pineapple Bomb cocktail. My blond companion gets the Russian Hillbilly (caramel moonshine, Kahlua, pearl vodka) and my bearded friend opts for a moonshine flavor: Firefly Caramel, mixed with Dr Pepper.
According to Suzanne, moonshine is a single-distilled white whiskey made from corn, water, and sugar that got its name from being made under the cover of darkness, back when alcohol was illegal. In fact, “Mash’d” refers to the act of mashing corn into moonshine.
“Moonshiners not only had to look out for the law, but they had to watch out for their competitors, too,” Suzanne says.
And just who drinks it? Evidently, everyone: there are beautiful people at the bar, gray-haired men watching sports, a trio of bleach-blondes on a ladies’ night out. Seated to my right are four college-aged kids. One of the guys is drinking an Ole Smoky moonshine. The petite woman next to him is downing a Pineapple Bomb.
“It’s so good,” she says. “I can’t even taste the moonshine.”
I am surprised to learn that two of them journeyed here all the way from Grapevine; the other two, from Denton. With hundreds of suburban bars around, how did Mash’d manage to lure people from so far and wide? Maybe it’s like Justin, the GM, says: moonshine is an original American spirit. While it’s not illegal or made in bathtubs much anymore, its sheer novelty sets it apart from plazas filled with run-of-the-mill chains and breastaurants. And I, for one, am happy to imbibe.