Red Dead Online: How to Play as a Moonshiner

Red Dead Online: How to Play as a Moonshiner

We've explained the newest frontier pursuit in this in-depth guide that tells you everything you need to know about the Moonshiner role.

Rockstar's biggest addition to Red Dead Online recently is the Moonshiner, a new role that allows players to brew and sell their own illicit liquor while defending their supply from enemies. We'll take you through how to play as a Moonshiner, what happens as you undertake the role, how to make money, and what you can unlock along the way.

How to Play as a Moonshiner

Being a Moonshiner is similar to being a Trader, though there's more of a combat focus and story campaign tied to the role. As a Moonshiner, you'll set up a hidden still, have a cook prepare jugs of flavoured liquor according to the demands of customers, then make a delivery to the buyer while trying to avoid Revenue Agents and bandits along the way. We already went over how to become a Moonshiner and what it'll cost you in this guide here, now we'll cover the set-up and business process to help make you a bonafide booze tycoon.

Best Location to Put Your Moonshiner Shack

The first thing you'll have to do is decide where you want to put your shack from one of the five below locations:

  • Bayou Nwa
  • Grizzlies
  • Hennigan's Stead
  • Heartlands
  • Tall Trees

It's worth mentioning that once you choose where to place your shack, you can relocate it from the same menu later, though it'll cost you $250 to do so. You also can't have more than one shack at a time, so if you're thinking of starting a franchise, think again.

The best place to put your shack is to some extent a matter of opinion, depending on what you find most helpful. There's several factors to consider when putting down roots, considering this building is going to be a hub for a lot of what you do.

Your first choice is working out where to set up base. | Joel Franey/USgamer, Rockstar North/Rockstar Games
  • Closeness to town. Not only is it helpful to have a town close to hand, a general store can be really useful to a moonshiner, allowing you to buy the fruits and herbs with which you can flavour your product.
  • Closeness to a Fast Travel Post. You can fast travel to your shack, but not from it, so being close to a location with a post is almost as good as being next to a town.
  • Wildlife. You'll have to be a Trader to be a Moonshiner, so it can be good to be in an area with an abundance of animals for you to shoot down for your other business. You also want the right kind of wildlife, to see deer bouncing spryly across the horizon rather than step out into a wolf's open mouth.
  • Player traffic. Getting the most popular moonshine shack is a double-edged sword, because there's always a chance you'll walk out of your front door into a crowd of fellow hooch-hucksters, and in Red Dead Online, there's also a chance that one of them will open fire on you for no reason.

With all this in mind, we would tentatively recommend picking between either Tall Trees or Bayou Nwa if you're happy to deal with player traffic. They are the best locations in all other regards, well-located for most basic needs. The Heartlands location in particular is very distant from anywhere, meaning a long commute on horseback every time you want to do anything.

Setting Up Your Moonshine Business

After choosing your location, visit it to speak with Maggie Fike, the bootlegging veteran who helps build your business. She'll give you two missions to set it up for good; one to steal a distillery still, one to rescue Marcel, Maggie's cook, from bandits. They're pretty simple missions, the first a wagon theft and the second a simple NPC rescue/escort. Bring a lot of ammo though; enemies tend to be very numerous in all Moonshiner-related content.

How to Make Moonshine

Now you've got the equipment and the expert, you'll have to make some moonshine. Head downstairs in your shack to speak with Marcel and make the decisions about what kind of Moonshine he'll be brewing. The process goes through these stages:

"... Get forty-three coffins ready." | Joel Franey/USgamer, Rockstar North/Rockstar Games
  • Speak to Maggie upstairs to do a bootlegger mission. These are short, random quests that allow you to reduce the costs of brewing moonshine. They're not mandatory, but they do make brewing hooch cheaper or more profitable in some way, so we recommend doing at least one before every cook. The game will tell you when the price has dropped as much as it can.
  • Talk to Marcel to brew weak, average or strong moonshine. To begin with, only the first of these options will be unlocked, but as you level up you'll unlock the option to buy better distilleries to create stronger moonshine. Stronger liquor takes longer to brew, but sells for more. This is also the point where you'll pay for the Moonshine Mash ingredients, which can cost up to $60 if you haven't done any missions.
  • Flavour your moonshine in the same menu from one of several recipes. These recipes require certain food, plants, berries or herbs to do so, which you'll have to buy or find in the wild. Certain flavour moonshines will be wanted by different buyers, who will pay more for them.
  • Wait for Marcel to create twenty bottles of moonshine. Depending on the strength of the moonshine, this'll take between thirty minutes and an hour of real time. You'll have to be online and in a server for the timer to elapse, so don't quit or turn off your game. Don't worry if you're out and doing missions, the game will alert you when Marcel's finished cooking.
  • Return to the shack to start the sale mission. We'll go into this in more detail momentarily, but when Marcel's finished, simply go back and speak with him to choose who you'll sell it to.
Once you've made a wagon's worth of flavoured hooch, you can get ready to ship it off. | Joel Franey/USgamer, Rockstar North/Rockstar Games

How to Sell Moonshine and Choose a Buyer

If you flavoured your liquor, it'll always go for more, though certain people will pay extra for certain flavours. You can check these under "today's requests" when looking at flavour options, requests from certain buyers who want specialized hooch. You can make any flavour, but it's best to pick one somebody is actively asking for.

When Marcel is done, visit him again and choose the person who is offering the most money for your batch. Now the sale begins, in which you must drive a wagon to the buyer and avoid interference from Revenue Agents.

When you're selling liquor, know your market. | Joel Franey/USgamer, Rockstar North/Rockstar Games

The important thing to note in Moonshine Selling missions is that you're not just defending yourself from attack, but also the bottles of Moonshine in the wagon, and they are fragile. Obviously gunfire can damage them, but so can poor driving, even just going too fast up a ramp. Your supply's health is measured by the blue icon at the top of the screen, and when you lose enough health, the bottles start breaking. You'll lose money every time a jug smashes, so you'll want to keep safe.

There's no guarantee you'll have to deal with the Revenue, of course. Usually there's three possibilities: you see them but they ignore you, they demand to check the wagon, or they attack you from the beginning. If you see a roadblock up ahead and they ask you to stop, it's almost a certainty it's about to get into a gunfight, so that's your moment to either make a mad dash through their checkpoint or to blow off as many bowler-hatted heads as possible.

If driving safely is proving difficult, there is something of a cheat: the wagon steers itself while you stare down the sights of a gun, so just keep aiming at nothing and it should control itself all the way to the target. It's not a perfect system - you might bump over a rock or hit an unwary NPC, but it works 95% of the time, so as long as you don't zone out, it can do the majority of the work for you.

As you rattle off into the unknown, your cargo is the most important thing in the world. | Joel Franey/USgamer, Rockstar North/Rockstar Games

How to Upgrade Your Moonshine Distillery Still and Moonshine Shack

As you do more Moonshine missions and sales, you'll rank up to the point where you can buy equipment upgrades to make stronger moonshine, unlocking at levels 5 and 10, costing close to a thousand dollars each time. You can buy them from Fike upstairs under the "Equipment Upgrades" option, as well as various other items and cosmetic changes to your shack - including a bar.

Building a Bar Expansion

The bar expansion is exactly what it sounds like: an expansion for your shack that turns the building into a tavern. You can also buy a band to play there, which provides ambient, bouncy music, and invite other players inside where you can all drink unlimited moonshine, acting as a kind of clubhouse.

Maggie has everything you need for your shack, and quite a few things you can probably ignore. | Joel Franey/USgamer, Rockstar North/Rockstar Games

Can You Make Money With the Moonshiner Bar Expansion?

You'd think so, but no, the thing is purely cosmetic, no matter how many NPCs you see drinking there. Many have suggested a kind of passive income generated from the building at that point, especially considering the bar costs $950.00, but at time of writing there is no such feature. Those who buy the bar are getting the clubhouse aspect, and that's about it.

Is Buying the Moonshiner Role Worth It?

If you have the gold already, we'd say yes. It's a meatier, more extensive role than any of the others so far, with a storyline told through missions you accept from Maggie Fike. It is expensive - probably too expensive - but it's still fun nonetheless, blending elements from all the other roles into something that stands out as a high point of Red Dead Online's content.

*Hic* Cheersh! | Joel Franey/USgamer, Rockstar North/Rockstar Games

If that was helpful to you, we've got a similar guide here on how to play as a Trader, which you'll be already if you've unlocked this role. Or you can go here to see how to get the best saddles for your horse.

Joel Franey

Guides Writer

Joel loves books, games, comics and drinks that make a person feel like they just got kicked in the head by a mule. He has a Masters in writing from Sussex, which he somehow got by writing about Superman. He is absolutely NOT three children in a long coat, so please stop asking.

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