The Broken Shaker Guys: Moonshine Cherries and Building a Cocktail

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

It happens every once in a while. A mystery box arrives from a PR firm, usually introducing a new product or book. We've gotten coffee, coconut water, red wine vinegar, and cupcakes, to name a few. But even I was surprised when the UPS guy arrived recently with two mason jars filled with Ole Smoky Moonshine ($29.99 at Crown Wine & Spirits).

One jar was filled with a bright amber liquid, which was a 40-proof, apple pie-flavored moonshine. The other was filled with maraschino cherries soaked in 100-proof moonshine. I was intrigued, but had a bad experience once with moonshine, when I purchased some home brew from Virginia. That stuff was better suited to strip varnish than to drink, as I found out the hard way with a group of friends who thought I was trying to poison them.

So the jars sat in my kitchen unopened and sad (in my opinion, there's nothing sadder than an unopened bottle of booze) until I packed them up in my car and brought them over to the Broken Shaker.

Gabriel Orta was behind the bar and immediately opened the jars. He pronounced the apple pie delicious as we tasted. "This is my favorite dessert, by the way," he said. At 40-proof, it had some bite, but it certainly wasn't turpentine. "I taste nutmeg, and cinnamon," Orta explained. The soaked cherries packed a punch and reminded me of Starburst chews, only this time my mouth was greeted with a burst of booze instead of mouthwash and sugar.

I challenged Orta to do something with the libations and he immediately

got to work, pulling large bottles of spirits and tiny bottles of home

made elixirs off the shelves.

While Orta worked, I asked him the

basics for making up a cocktail. He explained that he uses the same

principles for cocktails that he does when cooking.

"When you

work with food, you take a key ingredient and you build on that flavor.

It's the same with a cocktail. Taste the spirit, which is the base for

your recipe. What notes do you pick up? Even vodka, a neutral spirit,

will reveal different notes if you take the time."


then suggested building on the first note you hit

"If you taste cinnamon, then you

could, for example make a cinnamon syrup to compliment it."


next step is to use fresh ingredients to build more flavors, tasting as

you go. Orta explained that a good cocktail should have a foundation, a

citrus note, and some sweetness -- a touch of agave, sugar, or honey.


this apple pie moonshine, for example. What's good with the sweet and

spicy notes of an apple pie? I would start with bourbon, then add

rosemary to balance the sweetness," Orta said.

Then Orta

presented me with his cocktail. This master mixologist had blended the

moonshine with bourbon, honey, apple cider, lemon juice, and rosemary.

Its name? The Pie-Oh-My, after Tony Soprano's race horse.


and the moonshine cherries?

"I'm just going to eat them," Orta said,

as he passed out a round of the potent red fruit for everyone at the bar. Ask for one, while there's still some left in the jar.

Follow Short Order on Facebook and Twitter @Short_Order.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.