Sloe Gin Fizzes were the first cocktail I mastered, but it’s been years since I’ve had one. No reason why, really. Sloe gin, a liqueur flavored with sloe berries, the fruit of the blackthorn tree, has hardly seen the renaissance that other spirits have in recent years. There hasn’t exactly been a clamoring for the stuff in the market.
Well, Plymouth (which I’m on record as stating, unequivocally, makes the best gin on the market) is trying to change that by introducing a premium sloe gin, perhaps the first of its kind. Plymouth threw a swanky party for its new bottling last night at Bourbon & Branch here in San Francisco, and I was fortunate enough to try the spirit along with a number of cocktails made with it.
First, a bit more about sloe gin: It’s made by steeping sloe berries in gin (Plymouth gin, of course), and watered down to 52 proof. 26 percent alcohol makes it a pretty standard liqueur rather than a true gin, so plan accordingly. Served straight, it’s quite tart, really too sour to enjoy on its own, but in cocktails it really shines.
Sloe gin’s natural habitat is the Sloe Gin Fizz, and in its preparation here (with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, fresh egg white, and a splash of club soda) it was a real delight, creamy, with a good mix of sweet and sour. In a good cocktail, sloe gin tastes a lot like cranberry, and in The Wibble (recipe below), you get the essence of sloe gin at its best. This concoction, which includes grapefruit juice and blackberry liqueur, is like a Cosmo on steroids. Really good.
Amazingly, the addition of sloe gin to gin and Campari made the “Sloegronie” impressively drinkable, still quite bitter, but much better than a real Negroni. Finally, I finished up the night with Plymouth’s Southside (pictured, because it was so cool looking), which actually didn’t include sloe gin at all. Essentially a Mojito with gin instead of rum, I was impressed with how much more interesting this now-tired drink could be. Sub in lemon for lime and add a shot of sloe gin and you’ve got a Sloe Gin Genie (pictured at top, next to the bottle). I’ll give it a try when I get a bottle of my own to play with.
Plymouth Sloe Gin isn’t quite yet available in the U.S. yet, but keep an eye out for it. (If it’s sold at the same price here as it is in Britain, it’ll run about $35 a bottle.)
1 oz. Plymouth Gin
1 oz. Plymouth Sloe Gin
1 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 oz. simple syrup
1/8 oz. Wild Blackberry Liqueur (Creme de Mure)
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.