MxMO – Sloe Gin

November 12th, 2007

Mixology Monday - Pairings

Since starting this site I have looked at many gin cocktails, something which is quite amazing given that a few years ago I wouldn’t touch the stuff. I toyed with several ideas for what to cover myself for this theme, from looking at different Martini recipes to doing a taste test of various gins. However, while I’m sure I may eventually get to those topics, today I decided to look at gin from a slightly different angle.

Sloe gin is a traditional English spirit that dates back hundreds of years from the traditional practice of steeping gin in fruits to create the old-fashioned equivalent to flavoured vodkas. Sloe berries, the fruit of the blackthorn bush which is common in rural England, are added to gin along with sugar to produce a deep red liqueur that is astringent and dry, though with an underlying sweetness.

The most famous modern use of sloe gin is the salaciously titled Sloe Screw, which is simply a Screwdriver with the addition of sloe gin. There are numerous additional members of the Screw family, such as the Sloe Comfortable Screw which adds Southern Comfort, but I have dispensed with such frivolity and gone for a cocktail I discovered in Difford’s Guide and adapted slightly to make it just a little less sweet.

Blackthorn English cocktail

Blackthorn English

The Blackthorn English is at once both sweet and tart. It has an amazing smell, and the sloe gin gives it a deep, complex taste. The sweet vermouth adds enough sweetness to pull back the bite of the sloe gin, and the flavours of the two work well together. Meanwhile in the background the orange bitters and zest help cut through the strong flavours, preventing the drink from becoming too rich.

The taste almost reminded me of Pimms, although I think this is more suited to a cold winter evening than the summer afternoons Pimms is traditionally associated with. Overall a delicious cocktail, and a great introduction to sloe gin. I will definitely be exploring it more in the coming weeks and months.

This is, of course, but one of many posts about gin for today’s Mixology Monday. Check back here tomorrow when I will be providing a full run-down of everyone’s entries. If anyone is running a little late, as indeed I am, you probably have about 20 hours left if you want to be included, so get posting!

Update: Huge apologies, but I’m afraid the round-up will have to wait until tomorrow now. There are a lot of entries, and while I have made a start I just don’t have the time tonight to do them all justice. Thank you to everyone that took part, and please do check back tomorrow (that’s a promise this time!).

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Posted in Gin, Mixology Monday, Orange Bitters, Recipes, Sloe Gin, Vermouth

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12 responses to “MxMO – Sloe Gin”

  1. Blair, aka Trader Tiki Blair, aka Trader Tiki says:

    and I was going to ask you about Plymouth Slow gin too!

    Can’t get it in the states (yet), but I understand it’s the best stuff out there by far.

  2. Jeffrey Morgenthaler Jeffrey Morgenthaler says:

    Wow, the longer I look at that photo, the more I want a Negroni. I’m going to have to pick up a bottle and try this as a variation.

    Thanks, Jay!

  3. Scomorokh Scomorokh says:

    Great choice and nice foto! Very english, I think, very patriotic.

    I had Blackthorn English 29/07/07 (Yes, I keep a diary :) and on hot summer evening it seems to me as oily, strong drink with dominating taste of sloeberry… For summer it is a very wrong choice!!! :) I did entry in my diary “Not for summer, but for cold autumn day…” Probably I was right, and tomorow I not dream about summer with some dubious things like


    but will warm my soul and heart with Blackthorn English!


  4. Ouroboros Ouroboros says:

    This is the excuse I’ve needed to track down a good bottle of sloe gin. Thanks, Jay!

  5. SeanMike SeanMike says:

    Can anyone recommend a good sloe gin other than Plymouth? In Virginia’s ABC system, we can only get Mr. Boston Sloe Gin, and I haven’t been able to find yet a DC store that has some on their site…

  6. Jay Jay says:

    Blair – yeah I’m lucky that I can get it easily where I am. I’ve never tried other brands, but the Plymouth tastes very good, and uses a natural steeping process rather than flavouring neutral spirits like some modern “sloe gin” manufacturers do.

    Jeffery – the similarity to a Negroni didn’t twig at the time, but it is pretty similar isn’t it. As I’ve documented, Campari isn’t my favourite thing in the world, but this is definitely a delicious cocktail.

    Scomorokh – a winter drink for sure. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoyed mine!

    Ouroboros & SeanMike – Like I say, I’ve not tried anything other than Plymouth, but watch out for brands that just flavour neutral spirits rather than actually steeping gin in sloe berries.

  7. rcm999 rcm999 says:

    Everything I’ve seen so far sings praises about Plymouth. I picked up a bottle of DeKuyper’s to make a Sloe Gin Fizz for my girlfriend and it was a disaster. The aroma and taste were rather rank and old, musty tasting. A bartender let me taste a sample of Bols, and it was much better than DeKuyper’s. So what’s the best choice here in the States for a Fizz?

  8. Jay Jay says:

    From what I understand, Plymouth Sloe gin should be coming to the US in a few months time. Your best bet it probably to wait until then, as I’ve not heard anything particularly positive about the other Sloe gin choices around…

  9. rcm999 rcm999 says:

    I’ve seen several things about this on the web. That fairly well does it for me. I’m going to the Beverage Superstore tomorrow and placing my order, provided they can get it. I just wish I could remember the brand we used at the NCO and Officer’s Clubs when I was in the service back in the 70’s. Very sweet and light. . . . a favorite of the ladies. Thanks for a quick response, Jay!

  10. SeanMike SeanMike says:

    Fee’s has a Sloe Gin also. That might be able to tide you over.

    I haven’t had it – it’s a non-alcoholic version that can has a recipe to how to booze it up – but I also have a bottle of Bols that I might try at some point, if anything, to see how it compares when Plymouth gets here.

  11. Paul & Steve Paul & Steve says:

    Jay, we loved your recipe for this cocktail. It’s great for a damp summer evening with fog covering the city. A delight! Cheers and thanks.

  12. Jay Jay says:

    Glad you guys liked it, it’s pretty tasty isn’t it. Also glad London isn’t the only place having a shitty August weather-wise! ;-)

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