Makes 1 Servings
Our warm-weather drinking philosophy in a nutshell: When in doubt, add bubbles.
4 ounces dry Prosecco or other sparkling white wine
1 ounce sloe gin
Blueberries, mint sprig (for serving)
Pour Prosecco into an ice-filled large wine or rocks glass. Add sloe gin and top off with club soda. Gently stir together; garnish with blueberries and mint.
Recipe by Rick Martinez
Photos by Ted Cavanaugh
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The perfect sloe gin recipe
Make this delicious sloe gin recipe and enjoy a fruity alcoholic drink over the winter season.
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Published: August 26th, 2020 at 11:45 am
It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and there is no more misty fruit than the sloe. Each dark purple berry is touched with blue smoke, but don’t let their good looks fool you. Popping one in your mouth will draw your gums from your teeth, and your tongue will shrink away in fear – they’re tremendously astringent. But, with a little preparation, and a lot of patience, they’ll transform a plain old bottle of gin into a deeply delicious liqueur.
Making sloe gin is very much a case of life in the sloe lane. It can require quite a bit of patience but is extremely rewarding – here’s the perfect sloe gin recipe.
What are sloes?
Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn. A densely growing bush, packed with thorns, it’s often used in hedgerows to keep livestock in check. It’s a member of the prunus family, and like its more glamorous relatives, it’s dressed in white blossom throughout spring. This pretty display, combined with its overall hardiness, means that it features in many a suburban parkland.
The sloes themselves are spherical and cluster tightly along the branches. If the berries you have found are oval and dropping from stems, they are probably damsons. Pick the sloes that have ripened in the sunshine, as these will be sweeter than those in the shade. Always pick from waist height upwards – this will leave plenty on the bushes for the wildlife and means you will collect the cleanest berries.
When should sloes be picked?
There’s a bit of folklore about only collecting sloes after the first frost, which was used as a signpost in time. If the frosts had started, the sloes had probably been around long enough to be ripe.
However, there’s no need to wait this long. Early autumn is not only a more pleasant time to be out and about, but you can time your sloe harvest to the last of blackberries, meaning that you can have some instant gratification foraging along the way.
How do you drink sloe gin?
Sloe gin can be drunk on its own – you may find a spirit measure handy – and severed with ice and a slice of lemon. It is also delicious served with a mixer such as tonic water and ice cubes with a slice of lemon or orange.
How to make sloe gin
Follow our method below to make the perfect sloe gin to impress your friends and family.
What is Sloe Gin
Despite its name, sloe gin is not gin. It is a gin-based liqueur made from sloe berries.
Sloes are actually a type of plum. They are blue-black in colour and tend to look like a cross between a regular plum and a blueberry. They are incredibly sour, with a bitter skin, so are not suitable for eating raw.
Sloes can be used to make jam - they come into their own when paired with bramble fruit such as blackberries and raspberries. And of course, they can be macerated in spirits to produce sloe liqueurs.
Sloe gin is typically made from sloe berries, sugar and gin. It can be sipped upon just as it is or included in cocktail recipes.
I used it in my award-winning Winter Gin & Tonic recipe a few years ago. Other popular sloe gin cocktail recipes include the Sloe Gin Fizz , the Blackthorn and the Charlie Chaplin .
Since sloes also partner well with orange flavours, sloe gin was my natural impulse when I started thinking about creating a winter Aperol spritz recipe.
Pink Gin Spritz with Gordon’s
It&rsquos at this time of year that I&rsquom trying to do my best to make summer last a little longer. Making a lovely fresh and summery cocktail when the sun is shining is just one way to achieve that. I&rsquove been trying a bottle of Gordon&rsquos Pink &ndash a Pink Gin that is made with an original recipe from the 1880s &ndash which seems just perfect for a pink gin spritz. It&rsquos flavoured with natural summer fruits &ndash raspberries, strawberries and redcurrant blended with Gordon&rsquos gin. The result, all packed into the prettiest bottle is a blushing pink gin that can&rsquot help but remind you of summer sunshine. When you open the bottle, there&rsquos a fabulous berry scent &ndash Wimbledon, picnics in the park, hedgerows full of flowers and more. It&rsquos overwhelmingly summer in a bottle.
Now, I&rsquom allergic to fresh strawberries and the first time I tried this, it was clear it wouldn&rsquot do me much good to continue. It is testament to the freshness of the ingredients that, while I can happily eat strawberry jam, I can&rsquot drink this pink gin without suffering the same side effects I get from eating a bowl of strawberries. It&rsquos deeply frustrating, but I ended up having to pass the bottle on to Simon (who is much better at making cocktails than me anyway!).
He is a fan of Fever-Tree tonics &ndash and has been playing around with the flavoured ones to complement his version of a Pink Gin Spritz. If you DON&rsquoT have a strawberry allergy and would like to try for yourself, here&rsquos his recommendation on how to make one for yourself.
A delicious pink gin spritz using Gordon's pink gin
- 50 ml Gordon's® Premium Pink Distilled Gin
- 50 ml tonic water we liked Fever-Tree Sicilian Lemon Tonic
- 50 ml Prosecco
- Fresh strawberries
Add 50ml Gordon's Pink Gin
Top up the glass with 50ml Sicilian Lemon Tonic and 50ml Prosecco and mix together gently
For a sweeter version use lemonade instead of lemon tonic
What we call pink gin these days bears little resemblance to what the Victorians would have recognised from the name. In fact, Gordon&rsquos Pink Gin seems to be a fruit gin &ndash and very delicious at that. I can make my own version of a pink gin spritz using a raspberry gin or even sloe gin &ndash though it&rsquos that lovely strawberry not that makes this drink so very summery. But, in the 19th century, pink gin was a drink made with bitters and gin &ndash a bit like the Gimlet or even a classic Gin and Tonic &ndash used by the Navy to treat sea-sickness. The original pink gin was so named because the bitters made the gin turn a rosy pink. Traditionally it was nothing more than gin and bitters &ndash though most mixologists will add a twist of lemon and perhaps top the drink up with soda water.
The craze for pink gin is more to do with the popularity of rosé wines and fruit-based cocktails than to the historic use of the term. There is something of an obsession with all things pink. I love this pink port cocktail for instance and if you check our list of Easy Classic Summer Cocktails, you&rsquoll find more to choose from. The fact that pink gin used to be something quite different, isn&rsquot to say that fruit gins don&rsquot have their own history. They can be lower in alcohol than normal gin and also sometimes contain sugar. Gordons Pink Gin is 37.5 ABV and does not have any added sugar other than that which comes from the fruits themselves (raspberry, strawberry and redcurrant).
If you are looking for a way to make summer last just that little bit longer &ndash why not try for yourself. Sadly I&rsquoll be sticking to regular Gin and Tonic or to Sloe Gin (which I love!) in the future. And, of course, having tasted a pink gin spritz you can guess that it is exactly what I am craving right now! Meanwhile, why not pin this post for later
And do check out my other summer cocktail recipes for a St-Germain Spritz or for a Pimm&rsquos Spritz.
Disclosure: I was provided with a bottle of Gordon&rsquos Pink for the purpose of making a Pink Gin Spritz.
For a more powerful lime flavor, add strips of lime peel to the sugar and water mixture before bringing it to a boil. Once the syrup has cooled completely, strain before adding the lime juice.
Let this easy two-ingredient cocktail (plus seltzer and a citrus twist) serve as inspiration for a whole season of variation. Substitute Cocchi Bianco for Lillet or white vermouth (make sure it's white, not dry) and swap out the St-Germain for any sweet liqueur, such as Cherry Heering or Domaine de Canton.
5 to Try: Sloe Gin CocktailsThe Dorstone. | Photo by Lara Ferroni. Mary Astor. | Photo by Emma Janzen. Sylvain's Rat Race. | Photo by Emma Janzen. Sloe and Unsteady. | Photo by Jody Horton. Time Release. | Photo by Emma Janzen.
One of the great underdogs of the liquor cabinet, sloe gin&mdasha liqueur made from the fruit of the blackthorn tree&mdashlends a soft sweetness to cocktails, making it an excellent ingredient to reach for during the fall when boozy stirred drinks come back into play. And with more quality commercial options available than ever before (try Plymouth, Sipsmith, Hayman&rsquos or Spirit Works), it&rsquos a perfect time to experiment. Start with a classic Sloe Gin Fizz and bookmark these recipes to continue your mixing adventures.
Sloe gin and gin meet dry Curacao for a brisk and herbaceous sipper.
A gin sour with layers of refreshing complexity thanks to the combo of gin and sloe gin.
Sylvain&rsquos Rat Race cocktail matches earthy cachaça with the sweet tangy qualities of sloe gin.
Sloe and Unsteady
A combination of sloe gin, Fernet, lime, honey and bitters.
A complex cast of characters unfolds in this gin and Chartreuse cocktail.
6 of the best Sloe Gin Cocktails
Sloes are fruit from the Blackthorn bush and are very common in England.
Don’t let their blueberry-like appearance fool you! Inside each fruit is a very large stone and the skin has extremely high levels of tannin. Not something you’d want to eat on a regular basis.
However, when steeped in gin for anywhere between 3 and 12 months (depending on the producer’s preference) and sweetened with sugar sloe gin liqueur is hard to beat.
This spirit was synonymous with Christmas (my dad used to make his own), but the current cocktail trend means we are seeing more sloe gin cocktails on bar menus.
Here are 6 of the best Sloe Gin Cocktails
Sloe Gin Fizz
A combination of gin, sloe gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and soda water. The Sloe Gin Fizz is a delicious alternative to a G&T. You can find the recipe here.
Sloe Gin Negroni
Slightly less boozy than the original, but just as tasty. Instead of 30ml gin use 15ml gin and 15ml sloe gin. You might want to pull back on the sweet vermouth if you are using a particularly sweet sloe gin. You can find more Negroni recipes here.
A gorgeous alternative to a Negroni for all you campari-haters. Sweet vermouth and sloe gin. Sublime. Find the recipe here.
Named after the silent movie star who was at the height of his fame when this cocktail was created, this is an unlikely combination of sloe gin, and apricot brandy liqueur. The sweetness is counterbalanced bu freshly squeezed lime juice. You can find the recipe here.
Mulled Sloe Gin
Move over Mulled wine there is a new hot toddy in town. Mulled Sloe Gin is hard to beat on a cold winter’s evening. Find the recipe here.
Sloe Gin Champagne Fizz
Champagne and sloe gin? Oh yes! A delicious cocktail created by Jared Brown, Master Distiller at Sipsmith. Find the recipe here.
Sloe Gin Deserves To Be Considered a Bar Essential
While arriving at the final recipe for Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin, he says he sampled many homemade English variations—all of which tasted remarkably similar in that they were cloyingly sweet and flabby, with a harsh finish. After a bit of research, he learned that most of the sloe gins in England were based on an 1881 recipe from a west country farmer, which had the sloes—which are like tiny plums the size of berries—harvested after the first frost instead of when ripe, macerating with heaps of sugar for months in very cheaply made gin. “Adding sugar at the start saturated the spirit, creating an osmotic pressure barrier that prevents it from extracting the natural fruit sugars. If there’s no added sugar, the spirit [has a chance to] pull the sugars from the fruit.”
Up until about a decade ago, any sloe gin that was commercially available in the states was exactly that kind of tacky mess, or it had synthetic color and flavorings, instead of the elegant, slightly perfumed, sweet-tart elixir that’s closer to a spirit (though below 30% ABV) than a sweet fruit liqueur. Few liquor stores carried them, and the few bars that had them kept them stashed away with the dusties on the off chance that one special customer comes in asking for it, perhaps for cocktails like (and this is real) a Sloe Comfortable Screw Against the Wall.
So why bother bringing sloe gin back? Because when it’s made well—with a quality gin as the base spirit, good fruit picked at the height of ripeness in late summer or early autumn, and the sugars added as a sort of dosage well after the fruit and gin has become well acquainted—it’s a beautiful, nuanced sipper with tons of versatility as a spritz, brightening cocktails like Negronis, simply enjoyed as an aperitif on the rocks (and pairs beautifully with strong cheeses like a port) or even as a toddy.
In 2008, Plymouth Gin released a sloe gin with hopes it would find its place in the craft cocktail renaissance. Soon after, as the craft distillery movement took shape, sloe gins, both stateside and abroad, began adding little magenta accents to the gin landscape.
Structure of a Spritz
When building a spritz, you typically want to keep the following ratio in mind. Typically 1-2 parts Aperitivo/Liqueur (depends on product and typically how sweet it is), 3 parts Sparkling Wine and 1 part Soda. This has lead me to create some phenomenal spritz creations. That’s right, this isn’t the one and only time I’ve ventured into the creative Spritz world. Check out some examples here!
Now I’m using an ingredient I rarely use and will definitely change that and that’s Sloe Gin. In particular I’m featuring the outstanding Hayman’s Sloe Gin for this cocktail, which ended up working perfectly with this concept. I combined Sloe Gin with Mionetto’s Prosecco and instead of soda, I used tonic water instead. YES, you can even change your sparkling component. With Sloe Gin having much of the essence of Gin, why not compliment it with some herbaceous tonic water? If you don’t love tonic, that’s okay! Build this with soda instead.
Then you have the fruit components that you’ll want to toss into your glass. Highlighting the Berry notes, I wanted to put some fresh strawberries and black pepper to the mix (pst strawberry and black pepper is one of my favourite pairings). Make sure to have your fruit cut, because this will ensure more surface area to allow your fruit to infuse quicker.
And that’s pretty much it! Build with your base spirit in mind and what flavours will compliment it and it’s easy to customize your own spritz at home!
The best gins to sip on all year round
We don&rsquot need to tell you that gin is one of the most iconic drinks going. It&rsquos the spirit that&rsquos brought out all year round whether for a summer spritz or a Christmas tipple and can be served neat with a tonic, soda water or ginger ale, or in a classic cocktail.
It&rsquos come a long way since it first emerged in England during the 17th century. Today you can drink a classic, aromatic London Dry Gin or opt for a contemporary, coloured gin, infused with fruits and spices. Whichever, you&rsquoll have a sharp, refreshing drink with a perfect little kick.
When selecting a brand of choice, the higher the price, doesn&rsquot mean the better the liquor. It&rsquos personal and all comes down to taste but there are a few boxes that should be ticked. A gin should cut through tonic, its aromas should linger after you&rsquove taken a sip and it should have a clean, sharp, long finish.
So, with this in mind, we&rsquove rounded up our favourite gins from the likes of Hayman's, Abelforth, Lidl and Gordon's - here&rsquos what we&rsquoll be sipping on for the foreseeable.