Sloe Gin. What is sloe gin, what does it taste like, and how do you use it? As the name suggests, sloe gin is actually a liqueur made from gin that is macerated (aka soaked in alcohol to draw out the flavors of the fruit) with sloe berries and a bit of sugar, and actually dates back to the 1800s! And what’s a sloe berry? They’re a small dime-sized relative of the plum found in the English countryside on blackthorn trees. Flavorwise it has all the botanical flavors of gin, perfectly complemented by the berry sweetness and slight citrusy tartness of the sloe berries.
I first came upon sloe gin at a spirits festival several years ago and was entranced with the unique and utterly delicious flavor! Its deep ruby color (looks darker in the bottle) makes it a gorgeous addition to your light-colored beverages (not to mention its amazingly unique sweetness). Since then, I’ve actually had quite a struggle finding sloe gin in stores and was super excited to find this bottle made by the Spirits Works Distillery in Sonoma (which actually specializes in sloe gin, even with a barrel-aged version!).
With its English roots and reliance on an obscure English stone fruit, sloe gin hasn’t found much popularity in the US and for some time had devolved into some weird artificially-made sugary vodka-based syrup (beware when you purchase since these are still on the market! Brands to try other than this are Hayman’s, Plymouth, and Sipsmith. Luckily the recent cocktail revival has brought back a couple options for sloe gin to the US market, a liqueur that really deserves more attention and is perfect as an after-dinner sipper or even better, as a refreshing splash to your sparkling cocktail.
Sloe Gin Fizz
- 2oz sloe gin
- .75oz lemon
- .25 oz 1:1 simple syrup
Shake with ice and strain in a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with sparkling water (seltzer or club soda). Garnish with a floating lemon slice.
Find more sloe gin recipes here.