Moonshine is specific to American culture. Not that other cultures haven't also been making homemade alcohol for centuries, but moonshine is uniquely American.
Today (June 5th) is National Moonshine Day, and we have lots to celebrate (even if you're not a lush!).
Moonshine refers to an illegally distilled spirit, usually made at an individual's home. Although moonshine was commonly made in the US throughout most of the 1800s, it didn't gain notoriety until the passage of the 18th Amendment ("Prohibition") in 1919. Until 1933, when Prohibition was repealed, all forms of alcohol were banned, and Americans took to illegal means of getting their alcohol. This created a huge black market, which belonged mostly to moonshiners. Speakeasies began to spring up in back rooms and private clubs across America, where adults would gather in secret to consume alcohol and socialize.
Basically, everyone who distilled, sold, bought, and consumed alcohol became criminals. Even today, the traditional style of moonshine is still popular, even though alcohol can be easily bought in liquor stores across the country. Even though what’s made today is called moonshine, it’s difficult to equate today’s moonshine with the alcohol brewed in a still deep in the woods in the 1920s.
You may have heard that NASCAR was born out of Prohibition-era bootleggers. It's true! Once the liquor was distilled and bottled, it needed to be delivered under the cover of night, with fast cars navigating backcountry roads to bring the goods to their destinations. Even after Prohibition was repealed, bootleg (tax-free and unregulated) liquor was incredibly popular, and drivers would soup up their vehicles to make deliveries. A racing community of bootleggers emerged, all vying for bragging rights, to see who could make their delivieries the fastest, and without being caught. They'd hold races on highways, on beaches, in pastures...and a community began to form, along with a following.
In 1947, one of the drivers called a meeting of fellow drivers to standardize some racing rules, and NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Racing) was born. The first races were held on the sandy beaches of Daytona, and the rest is history!