With the distillers squeezing the retailers, and the retailers squeezing the public, and the men who set the taxes squeezing everybody, coming and going, Castor and I feel that the liquor trade is a fine how-do-ye-do. Imported Chateau Pontet-Canet, a Medoc of the fifth and lowest ranking, is selling in Boston with much blowing of trumpets for three fifty a bottle; California claret, resembling dago red to an astonishing degree, is served ice cold for the bargain price of one fifty a bottle. Three star Hennessey, which is, after all, nothing extraordinary, is the equivalent of so much gold dust in price. The solutions for all this have been stated in myriads, but, quite naturally, nothing has been done about any of them. There has been muttering about publishing the cost per bottle to the wholesalers and distillers, so that the public may see just how badly they are being reamed; of course, no one has yet seen even the tail end of one of these cost lists as it vanishes into the bushes of the lobbyists. There has been endless talk as to the utopia which we shall have attained when prices and taxes are so regulated that the bootleggers are driven out of business; unfortunately, these charming bits of descriptive writing have of late been pushed off the front pages by articles on the latest boost in federal tax per gallon on all liquors. The thinking man has retired from all this balderdash and poppycock to splash about in an oversize bathtub of the good old home-mixed gin; and in so doing, he unconsciously indicates a way out for the nation.
In the excitement incident to Repeal, everyone has neglected one time-tried branch of home industry, to wit, the moonshine trade; the rugged enthusiast in the bathtub, alone, of all the people, has seen the light. The solution of our ills is to encourage the moonshiner, the mountaineer, and his bootleg brand; he should be allowed to issue his product under a special tax, microscopic in dimensions, and should be praised for his simple, homespun way of living and working; he should be glorified in poem and ballad, and should develop a tried and true clientele of drinkers hardy enough to withstand the ravages of excess. Fancy and phoney foreign liquors, and bottled in bond American whiskeys, are to be left to the effete, in the reform which I envisage, while the great mass of the drinkers of the country, deserting their bathtubs, are to "buy American," and patronize the old men of the mountain.
It must not be thought that in recommending moonshine, and its sub-varieties, the drinking of colored alcohol is being encouraged; not in the least. This moonshine, particularly as made in many of the Southern and Western States, is a genuine whiskey, with a character all its own. The type with which Castor and I are most familiar is the so-called "Leadville Moon," a subtle growth of the Rockies, dark in color, shimmering in the light of a candle with a glow almost not of this earth, giving a hint of powers unknown to the average mortal. Its taste is, to be sure, that of liquid fire; but it does not have burn of straight alcohol; there is an aroma, a purging afterglow, and a solid, settled feeling which delves down to the soles of one's feet, which lets it be known that this is the drink of rugged individualism. There is something of the mountains of its birth in this Leadville Moon; those mountains are heavy, yet aspiring; they fall away in rugged, breath-taking scarps, and pyramid to jagged causeways of rock far above the clouds, descending again over soft alpine meadows and pastoral beauties; all this and more is to be found in Leadville Moon. It does not act like other drinks; it bowls one over, then replants; it is in no sense a cheap, shoddy imitation; it is a true invention, a step on the road of Progress. It should be introduced to those who do not know it, and made the American drink par excellence, supplanting all the high priced children of repeal, and interior, illegitimate offspring of Prohibition.