Moonshine is like water. It's a clear liquid no one wanted the government placing any of those fancy federal taxes on. With two hundred years of illicit production in the Appalachian mountains, it's premised on the badassery of backwoods distilleries.
But moonshine has slowly and legally been seeping its way north of the Mason-Dixon line, and most recently, south of the I-4 corridor to our neck of the woods. Granted, legal moonshine undermines its novelty, but Moonshine Molly's opened last week on Federal Highway in Boca Raton. Amongst their reservoir of moonshine infusions (bacon moonshine - what?!), they're also serving good ol' country fare, and yes, even boast line-dancing lessons.
Owners Bryan Stone and Rebecca Alexander are entrepreneurs. They're not from Florida, and they speak with a southern twang that reassures you they know how to run a country bar and restaurant the right way.
"We hope to open six more, all in Florida. We're looking at Fort Pierce, Daytona," Stone says matter-of-factly. "This one is just the first!"
Moonshine has gained some popularity in Orlando, but Moonshine Molly's is the first concept of its kind in South Florida. They have a full moonshine cocktail menu and a whiskey infusion bar that flavors the alcohol to intriguing flavors like horseradish and garlic, jalapeno, and strawberry, and apple cinnamon.
Many of their cocktails and whiskey martinis, or uptinis, are southern translations of popular drinks. Mary's Country Cousin resembles a bloody mary (except with five different whiskey flavors and enhancers), and Molly's New in Fashion is a pretty, more feminine take on an old fashioned.
The Texas Red Head is vodka and cranberry moonshine is mixed with lime juice, and topped with cranberries and mint leaves. The Blueberry Pie is blueberry moonshine, apple pie moonshine, and ginger ale.
The moonshine is 80 proof and comes from Asheville Distilling Co. in North Carolina. All moonshine drinks are fittingly served in mason jars. (Some, though, are even served in copper mugs!)
"Moonshine is the only true clear American spirit," Chase Allen of Asheville Distilling explains. "White whiskey and moonshine are the same thing. It's made with white corn."
Allen explains that the toxins in the moonshine are rumored to cause blindness. He explains that the process used at the distillery only uses the best parts of the alcohol, and that it's safe. "The burn is the signature taste of moonshine," Allen points out. "With our moonshine there's no burn, bite, headache, or hangover."
Originally, Stone and Alexander planned for Moonshine Molly's to be solely a bar. But once they purchased the location on Federal Highway (a former sports bar), they renovated it to be country destination. They serve a full menu with a Sunday brunch and even have line-dancing classes (beginners, intermediate, and advanced for the line-dancer of any ability).
"Country is the biggest genre," Stone says. "From 16- and 17-year-olds to 70-year-olds, no other music genre spans such a vast demographic."
First, they tore down the tacky big screen TVs, and within three months they painted the walls a warm beige stucco, accented the seats and booths with cow fur, and hung bull skulls unto the walls like a ranch in the Midwest.
There's the whiskey infusion bar at the entrance, but toward the side and back there's another main bar, tables and booths, and a large wooden dance floor where a live band will play and patrons will be encouraged to show of their best Texas shuffle.
Chef Walt has designed the menu. Previously he was the executive chef at Shooters. As a true country restaurant, the BBQ sauces are stand-outs. The ribs fall of the bone, and the fried gator tail comes fresh from the Everglades.
"I absolutely love everything on my menu," Chef Walt laughs. "If I'm hooked on it, I know it's good!"
They had a soft opening last Wednesday and welcomed over 500. Moonshine Molly's is located at 6450 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton. They are open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays.