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Photo Credit: Dan Watkins

Name: Rocky Top

Price: $10

Ingredients: Old Smokey Apple Pie Moonshine, Carriage House Apple Brandy, apple cider, sweet vermouth.

Taste: Its ontological apple-ness is cider, not juice, so the initial sip is subtly tart. The fruit quickly slides into a clean, mellow balance with rounded, boozy notes on the back. Far less cloying than a bottle of Woodchuck, this isn’t an apple drink to tempt the innocent. It’s for grown-ups.

Balance: Extremely fine. Served neat, the moonshine is as sweet as Drambuie. “It has a lot of cinnamon and sugar,” explains bartender Lillian Schmertz. But the brandy slices through the sugar while the vermouth gives the whole a fruity  polish.

Presentation: Served over ice in a mason jar, with an apple-ring garnish, this is the cultural opposite of martini service. It’s practically a declaration of yokel pride. “We’re big into the South,” says Schmertz.

Local Sourcing: “Boston trends toward the seasonal,” says Schmertz. “We get the apple cider from Carlson Orchards in Harvard, and we’ll run [the drink] until we can’t get cider anymore.” So until the apple harvest runs out, the Rocky Top bestrides the cocktail menu’s summit of popularity.

Pair it with: Barbecue, of course. “It pairs well with the richness,” says Schmertz. “With pork belly, but also with desserts like butterscotch.”     

Rocky Top
Sweet Cheeks, 1381 Boylston St., Boston | 617-266-1300 |