White Lightning Cocktail Recipe

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White Lightning Nutrition Facts





Alcohol %:40

Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


White Lightning is a cocktail that is as electrifying as its name suggests. It was popularized in the 1920s during the prohibition era in the United States, where it was often made with homemade moonshine. This cocktail is perfect for those who appreciate a strong, potent drink with a kick.

  • 1920s: The cocktail gained popularity.
  • Prohibition era: The cocktail was often made with homemade moonshine.

How White Lightning Tastes?

The White Lightning cocktail is a potent, strong drink with a fiery kick. It has a robust, full-bodied flavor with a hint of sweetness from the sugar. The lemon juice adds a touch of sourness, balancing out the strong alcohol taste.

Interesting facts about White Lightning

  • The White Lightning cocktail was popular during the prohibition era.
  • It is often made with homemade moonshine.
  • Despite its strong alcohol content, it has a balanced flavor due to the addition of sugar and lemon juice.


  • Moonshine: 2 oz(60ml)
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Lemon juice: 1 oz(30ml)


The backbone of this cocktail is Moonshine, a high-proof spirit that's all about that kick. It's the thunder to the cocktail’s lightning, you might say. Dial it down and you might not wake the dragon, but go overboard, and you’ll be breathing fire. If distilled spirits aren't your thing, an unflavored vodka can stand in, but it's like wearing socks with sandals—a little out of place.

Emma Rose


Sugar is the sweet undertone in this electric symphony, bringing balance to the moonshine's potent spice. Too much would be like a sugar rush on a rollercoaster - thrilling but overwhelming - and too little is like a symphony without violins, you'll feel something is missing. If you're outreach from sugar, a simple syrup will blend easier than sending a text.

Alex Green

Lemon Juice

Fresh lemon juice zips through the drink like a lightning bolt, adding a shot of acidity that cuts through the sweetness and alcohol, creating a refreshing harmony. Without it, the cocktail would be a one-note samba and lose its zesty edge. If lemons have rolled off your counter, lime juice is a zingy understudy ready to leap on stage.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make White Lightning Drink

  1. In a shaker, combine the moonshine, sugar, and lemon juice.
  2. Shake well until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Serve and enjoy.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Chill the cocktail glass before serving for a refreshing drink.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Southern BBQ: The bold flavors of smoked meats will complement the punchy kick of the moonshine.
  • Fried Chicken: A staple in the South, the crispy outside and juicy inside make an excellent partner for the acidity of the lemon.
  • Grilled Corn on the cob: Perfect for munching as you sip, the sweetness of the corn will be a nice balance to the cocktail's sharpness.

Drink Pairings

  • Ice Cold Beer: Preferably a light lager or pilsner to cleanse the palate between sips of the cocktail.
  • Sweet Iced Tea: It's the South in a glass and a sweeter counterbalance to the 'White Lightning'.

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What you could change in White Lightning

  • Moonshine can be substituted with vodka or white rum.
  • Sugar can be substituted with simple syrup.

Explore all drinks starting with W here

And of course - twists🍹

Blackberry Lightning

Ingredients: 2 oz Moonshine, 1 oz Blackberry Syrup, 1 oz Lemon Juice Swap out the sugar for blackberry syrup to give this storm a fruity swirl. Shake with crushed ice and serve in a mason jar for that authentic backcountry feel. It'll turn the zesty lightning into a sweet summer breeze.

Spicy Lightning

Ingredients: 2 oz Moonshine, 1 oz Honey Syrup, 1 oz Lemon Juice, a slice of Jalapeño Add a slice of jalapeño to the shaker for a cocktail with a bang. It turns the lightning bolt into a thunderclap of flavor, perfect for those who like to walk on the wild side but still want to keep their eyebrows.

Golden Lightning

Ingredients: 2 oz Aged Moonshine (or Corn Whiskey), 1 tsp Brown Sugar, 1 oz Lemon Juice Age your lightning in an oak barrel and switch to brown sugar for a smoother, richer strike. It's like catching lightning in a bottle—only better, because you can drink it.

In case you forgot basics how to make White Lightning

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

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Frequently Asked Questions on White Lightning

What is the origin of the cocktail's name?

White Lightning is likely named for its clear appearance and strong, potent taste, reminiscent of a sudden, surprising lightning strike.

Which kind of occasions is the White Lightning cocktail suitable for?

Given its strength and electrifying taste, it's often enjoyed at parties and gatherings with friends, also it's a good choice for a daring cocktail hour.

Is it a sipping cocktail or a shooter?

Though served in a cocktail glass, because of its potency, it could be savored slowly as a sipping cocktail or taken as a shooter, depending upon personal preference.

Does this cocktail pair well with any particular foods?

Yes, it pairs well with spicy foods and barbecued items as its robust flavor can balance out the spiciness.

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