Ruckus juice

Foxfire Book

What a great book this is for anyone who wants to be a mountain man.

Topics covered are “hog dressing, log cabin building, planting by the signs, snake lore, hunting tales, faith healing, moonshining and other affairs of plain living”.

There is plenty of good Appalachian slang in it, but I will just quote my four favourite phrases from the chapter on moonshining (or ‘farming in the woods’ as it was euphemistically known). I would definitely be raiding this list if I ever got a Jack Daniels brief:

Blubber: the bubbles that result when moonshine in the proof vial is shaken violently

Dead devils: tiny beads in the proof vial that indicate the whiskey has been proofed sufficiently

Dog heads: huge convulsive bubbles that boil up one at a time when the beer is almost ready to run

Goose eye: a good bead that holds a long time in the vial

There are a few good names for prohibition-era whiskey, too: ruckus juice, conversation fluid, corn squeezin’s, corn, white, thump whiskey, headache whiskey, blockade juice, busthead and popskull.

Compare contemporary words for cocaine: Baltic tea, Belushi, Bolivian marching powder, ching, coca, eight ball, girl, nose candy, onion, rippers, snuff, speedball, witney, yay, yayo and about 400 others.

It just goes to show: if you want a display of linguistic inventiveness, all you have to do is ban something.