Australia, the Old West and Tennessee Moonshine coming up north

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Lisa Harrison

New Yorker Lisa Harrison prepares to dig into the BBQ rib rack smothered in Georgia Moon Moonshine.

Crocodile Dundee started the whole “throw a shrimp on the barbie” craze that brought Australian-style food to America.  The Outback chain of steakhouses has used the Australian theme to great success.  But now a new program will bring it more in tune with America and the tastes of several generations.

Restaurants in Buffalo, N.Y., may argue over who first concocted the mouth-burning, stomach-acid inducing food called “Buffalo Wings.”  When Outback connected with Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine and Georgia Moon Moonshine, they melded two traditions into one.

At a gathering recently in New York of press and invited guests who would not have made the “Best Dressed List” in GQ (or even Sports Afield) Outback and Ole Smoky debuted a whole new trend in food.

OK, so it wasn’t a black tie crown, but it was arguably one of the friendliest mixers at any restaurant in the Big Apple and a picture of what would be coming to New Jersey and the surrounding area.  There are, all told, some 1,200 locations in 23 countries with the majority right here in the good old USA.

On May 21 and May 22 diners at Outback will be able to get a free sampling of the wings.  All they have to do is tell the server “Moonshine BBQ Wings” and they’ll get a half order of the wood-fire grilled wings covered in Moonshine BBQ sauce with the order of any adult entrée.

But they aren’t stopping there.  The party-goers were treated to a never ending parade of Moonshine BBQ ribs, Moonshine BBQ chopped salad and real moonshine cocktails.

Somehow it seems contradictory to refer to moonshine and cocktails in the same breath.  But this sure wasn’t the Eliot Ness “…hide the still moonshine.”  Some were in glasses and others in Mason jars.

The cocktails were given names that would be unlikely to have been served in the Tennessee backwoods with a smoking still and guards on the lookout for revenooers.  There was a choice of Huckleberry Hooch with Ole Smoky Moonshine and seasonal berries, orange, pineapple and cranberry juice.

Or there was Watermelon Hunch Punch Moonshine Cocktail with watermelon garnish, ice cold lemonade and Ole Smokey Moonshine.  Georgians would have been content with the Just Peachee Moonshine Cocktail with fireball cinnamon whiskey and peach puree mixed with apple and orange juices.  The glass rim was coated with cinnamon sugar.

The parade of servers brought guests plates of ribs, chopped salad a dessert of Skillet Apple Pie and outback’s signature Bloomin’ Onion.  Outback’s BBQ sauce is flavored generously with Georgia Moon Moonshine.

But how can you go to an Australian-themed restaurant serving food that would have brought joy to the heart of a NASCAR racer and his fans unless you had a name to go along with it.

Before going to the restaurant guests might want to check out and follow the directions to get their own moonshiner name.  Put in your demographic data and you’ll learn if you are a Rebel, Outlaw or Maverick.

Ole Smoky is a Tennessee legend with its distillery in Gatlinberg and known as “The Holler.”  That’s Tennessean for small valley, usually where refugees from Burt Reynolds movie “Deliverance” made their way deep into the forest.

Ole Smoky boasts that each flavor of its moonshine comes from age-old recipes of Tennessee families who have been brewing the stuff for generations.