You may have heard of a drink called the Sloe Gin Fizz. It doesn't use just any gin. It uses Sloe Gin, which is a red liqueur that is flavored with sloe, otherwise known as blackthorn berries. The end result is a delicious gin with a flavor that is very similar to a plum.
The easiest way to explain, as well as the most traditional way of making sloe gin is to infuse gin with the sloe berries. The berries must be ripe when picked, so they are commonly picked in the fall – either in late October or early November. Once the berries are picked, they will be mixed with sugar and then gin. The jar is sealed, rotated a few times to mix the contents and then stored a way for several months, being rotated periodically to blend. After about three months have passed, the gin will be brightly colors and the berries are discarded. The filtering process will depend upon the brand though many leave it as pure as possible.
Even though a Sloe Gin Fizz is on almost every menu, very few bars will actually make it with sloe gin because it isn't a very common liqueur to find around. If you can find it in a bar, you will find yourself in a very unique place.
Instead, you are going to have to look at a liquor store or an online merchant. There are a few brands that manufacture sloe gin, so once you are in the store, you should be able to find it relatively easily. It will be in the same section as regular gins, right where they keep all of the flavored ones.
Recipes with sloe gin are plentiful and can add a very unique flavor when combined with other forms of alcohol. Almost all of the recipes will also add a simple syrup of sugar and water to help with the flavors mixing and providing a smooth drink.
The first is the Sloe Gin Fizz, probably the most famous of all the drinks to use this liqueur. It is made with an ounce each of sloe gin, regular gin, and simple syrup. A squeeze of half a lemon will be added and then the remainder of the glass will be filled with soda water. The ingredients are usually shaken together with ice and then strained into a highball glass with the soda water added afterwards. It has a garnish of a sliced orange and a cherry, which is a very traditional garnish.
There is also a Cape Cod Cooler. This will be 2 ounces of sloe gin and 1 ounce of regular gin, a squeeze of lime and 5 ounces of cranberry juice shaken together with some orgeat syrup as well. All of it will be poured over ice and served in a Collins glass or a tumbler.
The next time you are in a liquor store and see a bottle of sloe gin, grab a bottle and head home to your bar. Experiment with some new flavor profiles and see what you like.