Adding sugar and sloe berries to gin produces a very popular, syrupy, sweet liqueur called sloe gin. The red-colored beverage gets its unique almond-flavored taste from the infusion of fermented berries.
The blackthorn bush bears the sloe gin berry, a relative of the plum. Once processed and ready for consumption, sloe gin can have alcohol content between 15 and 30 percent. It is a popular alcoholic beverage to the younger crowd because of its sweetness and its versatility, as sloe gin is a good companion to nearly any type of fruit juice or soda.
How to Make Sloe Gin
If making sloe gin the traditional way, you would start by pricking each berry sometimes with a needle from the blackthorn bush itself before placing it in a wide-mouthed jar. Sugar, a few cloves and a stick of cinnamon are then added to the jar before tightly sealing it with a lid. The jar will then need to sit for a few months to let the flavors steep. Throughout this process, rotate the jar regularly to keep the mixture well blended.
For three months, the concoction should be turned at least once a week until it is ready to be strained and enjoyed. Traditionally, the berries and spices used to make the sloe gin would be used again to add flavor to jams or liqueur-filled chocolates.
Sloe berries have to be ripe to properly infuse the gin with their aromatic flavor. The gin becomes an almost ruby red color if the berries are picked at their ultimate ripeness. When decanting homemade sloe gin correctly, the alcohol will take on an almond flavor from the sloe berries.
Today”s commercial sloe gins are made by using neutral grain spirits to start this fruit cordial drink. The liqueur does not need to be an expensive or high quality gin (or vodka), as the flavor of sloe gin is not affected by the type of base spirit used. The berries” quality and the recipe itself lends flavor to the final product.
Sloe Gin Makers and Shakers
One popular brand of this sloe berry spirit is Jacquin”s Sloe Gin. Charles Jacquin, an American company, is based in Philadelphia.
Two other popular types of sloe gin are Gordon”s and Plymouth.
Sloe Gin Drinks
Bartenders get asked to mix up more than a hundred different drinks using sloe gin. Some have very suggestive, names such as Panty Dropper, Smooch, Tropical Lust and the ever-famous Slow Screw.
The sweetness of the mixture of sloe gin and other liqueurs, fruit juices or soda brings about deceiving tastes and names. People can order such creations as a Kool-Aid Shot, Fuzzy Comfort or Hawaiian Punch. But beware — they can pack a punch. Sloe gin has an average alcohol content of 28.5 percent, or 57 proof.
British actor and songwriter Tim Curry released his debut album Read My Lips in 1978. In honor of the popular spirit, one of the songs on the album is called Sloe Gin.
Curry also appeared as the noisy concierge in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Sloe Gin Drink Recipes
One much requested drink is the Sloe Gin Fizz. The recipe for a Sloe Gin Fizz, along with other popular sloe gin cocktails, is listed below.
Sloe Gin Fizz
- 1 ? oz. of sloe gin
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ice and soda to fill shaker.
Put all ingredients in a drink shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled stemmed glass to let the red color shine through.
- 1 oz. amaretto
- 3 oz. orange juice
- 1 oz. sloe gin
- 1 oz. Southern Comfort.
Fill a shaker with crushed ice. Add all ingredients, shake and strain into shot glasses. Makes about 4 shots.
Born on the 4th of July
- 1 ? oz. Blue Curacao
- 1 oz. cream
- 1 ? oz. sloe gin.
Mix together with crushed ice in a glass and garnish with mint leaves.
- 12 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
- 6 oz. sloe gin
- 6 oz. strawberry schnapps
- 6 oz. vodka
- 6 oz. blueberry schnapps.
Pour all ingredients into blender. Fill with ice cubes. Blend until slushy. Pour into margarita glasses and serve.