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Brooklyn Moonshine War – A Staged Reading

BMW-309x400Dear Reader,

I’ve been “off the air” for the past few weeks working on a Staged Reading of my play. Many of you have written to ask me about the absence of postings lately and that’s one the reasons. The reading is today (July 23rd), and I’ll be back on the air soon.

The Play is Brooklyn Moonshine War, a full-length play that is being read as part Midtown International Theatre Festival.


Set in post Civil War America, a timeless story of love, betrayal, death and taxes. 

In 1869, desperate for revenue, the US government tried unsuccessfully to collect taxes from the illegal distillers in Brooklyn. Frustrated by repeated failed efforts, a cadre of tax collectors, US Marshalls and 1,500 soldiers invaded Brooklyn. The mission was to collect the taxes or destroy the stills and confiscate the liquor. (Based on an actual event.)

In a part of Brooklyn known as Irish Town, distillers Liam and Colleen O’Brien thought they finally had it made in America, albeit as moonshiners. Making a living and trying to attain the American Dream was hard enough without the additional burden of “unfair” taxes.

Suddenly, the world of the O’Brien’s falls apart as two soldiers barge in and detain them until the taxman can show up. While they wait, they try to manipulate the soldiers to avoid their fate. Colleen uses her charm and guile on one, while Liam tries for subterfuge and conniving with the other.

The result is a four-way tug of war with violence, love, betrayal and unexpected outcomes.

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Brooklyn Booze

Brooklyn is known for many things – churches, the original home of the Dodgers, peculiar accents and pronunciations, the 3rd largest city  in the country (if it were a city) and my “hometown.”

It also has an interesting history in the alcohol industry particularly in
distilled spirits.

A previous posting mentioned Kings County Distillery, which claims to be New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, the first since before prohibition. They produce handcrafted bourbon and moonshine and I intend to visit their operation and report back.

In doing my research about them, other distillers and the history of Brooklyn in the booze business, I came across some interesting information.

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My work life began in consumer and market research, working for a public opinion polling company called Yankelovich, Skelly and White. In the early 1980’s, I started my own marketing consulting company in conjunction with United Press International. That business was folded into the Roper Organization so I was back to market research and polling.

(Along the way I got an MBA from Fordham. In 2005, I taught two course there – one on marketing and one on market research.)

I joined the Seagram Spirits and Wine Company in 1986 as VP Marketing Research. What followed was a number of different marketing assignments in the US and globally including VP New Products, SVP Marketing Asia/Pacific/Global Duty Free, Global Head of Marketing Services and my longest position, EVP Marketing for the Americas. The US marketing job at Seagram was somewhat high profile and I was fortunate enough to be chosen to the Ad Age Power 50 and Marketing 100. I spent 14 years at Seagram and 9 of them were as head of US marketing. My “15 minutes of fame” came when I led the effort by Seagram to end the voluntary ban on broadcast advertising in 1993.

Seagram closed in 2002 and I started a marketing consulting company together with my daughter Michelle. The company, A|M Shapiro & Associates, continues even though Michelle left to live in CA and raise a family. The consulting work is partly in the spirits business and partly in general consumer-marketing areas.

In the alcohol space, my clients have included Jose Cuervo International (the brand owners), Brown Forman, Pernod, Patron, Beam Global, Cape Wine Classics and a range of others in startup modes. In fact, my consulting practice these days is limited to startup ventures.

Finally, aside from family, there are two passions in my life. I love photography and telling a story through pictures. I’m also an aspiring playwright and have worked hard to learn the craft. In June of 2011, one of my short plays called Stuck was the winner of week number 2 at The Players Theatre Short Play Festival. In addition to short plays I’m working on a number of full lengths including one about the government’s efforts in 1870 to collect back taxers from moonshiners in Brooklyn. It’s called the Brooklyn Moonshine War.

More recently, I’ve also turned my attention to film and, together with some incredibly capable filmmakers, we have produced Bereavement, a dark comedy starring Mark Linn-Baker.

My website:


LinkedIn: Arthur Shapiro

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