By Wesley Case, The Baltimore Sun
10:40 AM EST, January 22, 2013
UPDATE (Jan. 22): On Monday, co-owner Shanna Cooper stated in an email that Moonshine Tavern's grand opening is now Saturday, Feb. 9, instead of this Saturday. She did not give a reason for the postponement.
Posted Jan. 10:
Last Sunday, the Gin Mill on Boston Street closed after nearly 16 years of service. The Canton building won't be closed for long, though, as Moonshine Tavern is set to open on Jan. 26, according to co-owner Shanna Cooper.
Moonshine Tavern — which has no association with Gin Mill but is keeping three of its bartenders — is the first restaurant by Cooper and Jacob Millisock, two Federal Hill residents. The head chef is John Navarria, the former executive sous chef at Kettle Hill. Cooper describes the food as combining Louisiana creole with local ingredients.
Naturally, moonshine -- the incredibly potent, typically triple or quadruple distilled liquor -- will play a large role in the bar's alcohol program. Cooper says the bar has selected five or six brands of moonshine to be incorporated in the tavern's seven craft cocktails and seven "specialty" shots. Cooper points out that the bar will serve flavored moonshine, including apple pie, peach and blackberry.
"Moonshine is a lot easier to work with instead of vodka," Cooper said.
There will be 12 beers on tap, likely including Hampden's Union Craft Brewing, Abita, Allagash and more.
Besides the gutting and redesigning of the space (as seen on the tavern's Facebook page), Cooper and Millisock have ambitious plans. They hope to have acoustic performers during the week and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. (Cooper says the liquor board has approved live entertainment and the tavern is only waiting for approval from the Canton Community Association.) There will be sidewalk seating, and Cooper even mentions constructing a balcony on the second floor within the first year.
Moonshine Tavern will also have a two-tier "membership program," according to Cooper. The first level — which the bar will begin selling for $59.99 (Cooper says it will "increase slightly" after two months) — will get customers 10 percent off each visit.
For $100, customers can be become "VIP" members. That distinction means VIPs will get their own 16-oz. mason jar and fill it with moonshine, Southern Comfort or any of the bar's infusions using Sloop Betty vodka at a 20 percent discount. The jar will stay on the shelf, and customers will be able to drink from it whenever they choose.
That's a lot of change to a space whose old bar was long-known for its laidback atmosphere. For Cooper, that's the point.
"We're not looking to be a hole-in-the-wall bar," she said. "Canton has never seen anything like this before."
Moonshine Tavern (2300 Boston St., Canton) is slated to open on Jan. 26. The grand opening party is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 7. For more information, check out bmoreshine.com.
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