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Craft distillers make their way to the New York State Fair

Ellen Abbott
New York liquors, including moonshine, are on display at the New York State Fair.

As New York state continues to boost the craft brewery and distillery business, brews and spirits pushed into the wine court at the New York State Fair.

David Tadros has been collecting brews and spirits from Clayton to Brooklyn to sell at his stand on the edge of the wine court. State Fair Showstopper Ale, a brew concocted only for the run of the fair, by Empire Brewery, is sold here, along with other New York state beers. And for the first time distilled spirits are available outside, opening them up to a bigger audience.

That includes one high powered liquor you don’t find everywhere; moonshine.

"Mooneshine is illegal in a lot of states, but the New York State Department of Agriculture has allowed people to distill their own spirits, and moonshine is one of them," Tadros said. “People are surprised number one that you’re allowed to distill in New York, and a lot of them are questioning, are your really selling moonshine?”

He also says many people don’t realize how much is produced in New York state.

“We are only selling a New York state product here," Tadros explained. "We want to show people that New York state has more than farming agriculture. We’re producing really good alcohol and spirits.”

And special to the state fair are moonshine slushies, playing off the popularity of wine slushies. Tadros says you really need to mix the burning liquor with sweet crushed ice.

“We do a 7-to-1 ratio with our moonshine to slush," Tadros said. "So you’re getting a good amount of moonshine in there, but not enough that it’s going to ruin your day at the fair.”

In recent years, New York state has taken several steps to make it easier for craft brewers and distillers to produce and market their products. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this week that the number of farm-based manufacturers has increased by 100 percent since 2011, while the number of manufacturers producing alcoholic beverages in the state is up 105 percent in the last three years.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.