They are small berries that often grow wild in hedgerows in England. Though unpleasantly astringent on their own, sloes are a popular ingredient in sweetened jams and preserves, and they develop a rich, tart flavor when added to gins. It is not surprising that enterprising distillers have been incorporating these ingredients into liquor since the 17th century. It is customary to add sugar to the spirit to counteract the tartness of the berries.
After that, it takes on the essence and bright color of the berries. Gin has been replaced with gin-based liqueur, which is technically not gin. The best way to taste the authentic flavors of sloe berries is to use a British sloe gin, such as Plymouth Gin, Hayman’s Gin or Sipsmith Gin. It is no surprise that sloe gins are typically less boozy than their unflavored counterparts, clocking in at around 25% to 30% ABV.
It was traditionally used in British winter drinks, but it’s become most famed for its turns in American summer drinks, such as the Sloe Gin Fizz, paired with club soda, citrus, and simple syrup. With this combination, you will get a cocktail that is flavorful and great to drink, as well as a reddish-purple hue from the sloe gin. There are so many ways to mix this colorful spirit, but perhaps the most popular and craft-focused cocktail using it is the Sloe Gin Fizz, but other ’80s favorites include the Alabama Slammer. Trying mixing the drink with sloe gin and dry gin as the base is another easy way to experiment. This creates a cocktail that walks the line between a Gin Fizz and Sloe Gin Fizz with milder berry aromas and more subtle color – but still retains the same easy-drinking sensibilities.