Sloe or Slow?

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prunus spinosa – aka blackthorn or sloe; the teeny berries are found growing wild in hedgerows in England.

In last week’s blog I was thinking about drinking (but only while we put up house paint) and the blog before that I was thinking about my CC Sisters.  Drinking and sisters made me think about my junior year roommate at Colorado College and Sloe Gin Fizzes.  Back then I thought they were Slow Gin Fizzes – and I wondered if Slow Gin impacted you at a slower rate! 🙂

Those of you familiar with the Sisters will recognize her when I tell you that she arrived at CC, having spent her junior year in H.S. in Tokyo, where her dad was stationed in the Air Force.  Apparently the AF Officers Club in Tokyo was quite lenient in serving drinks to those of a certain Under Age.  And the Japanese were quite lenient in serving alcohol to young Americans out on the town and in the Ginza area.  That’s where she acquired her affection for Sloe Gin (though why it was popular in Japan befuddles me).

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Made in Sebastopol, CA – just a hop, skip, and a jump from us!

Esquire Magazine reports that Sloe Gin “once a morning drink and now a campus classic—is one of mixology’s oldest standbys, a simple, mildly fruity cooler without much to recommend it besides good looks and delicate flavor.”  What a subtle put down!  I’m sure my roomie had better taste than that in cocktails. (Note: after fixing ourselves our very first sloe gin fizz, we can see why young drinkers might like it.  It tastes a little like a bottle of really good, only mildly fizzy,  pop (soda?).  We can also see why you could drink too many because of that.  One positive note: the alcohol content in our sloe gin is 27% compared to 47% in a bottle of regular gin we’ve got in our cupboard.

Other sites are way more adoring about the cocktail: Betty Crocker (there actually is a!) says it’s “tart and refreshing.”  England’s Guardian newspaper suggests when “it’s cold, damp and dark outside, give yourself a lift with this perky little cocktail featuring two types of gin with a fizzy top.”

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Plymouth makes a recommended sloe gin, but at Oliver’s in Santa Rosa I found some locally-made sloe gin from Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, CA.  Undaunted by its priciness, I was delighted to finally find out what my roomie – and The Guardian and, yes, even Betty Crocker – find so special about the Sloe Gin Fizz.  We loved it and think it’s perfect for a crisp October evening and may be even more perfect as a holiday drink with its low alcohol content, beautiful color and admittedly delicate, subtle fruity flavor.

Once you’ve got this unusual bottle of alcohol, you may be looking for other ways to use it up.  The Guardian (again) has some recipes for foods with sloe gin, and Food & Wine has some gorgeous sloe gin cocktails as does 🙂

To get you even more into the mood for one of these delightful cocktails, you need to be listening to Erroll Garner’s classic jazz piece, Sloe Gin Fizz:



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Sloe Gin Fizz with a twist of lemon

Sloe Gin Fizz

This can be served over ice, but in the late fall, we opt to have it chilled  – but no ice.   Adapted from Esquire Magazine; Betty Crocker has another take on it.  She (it?) suggests using 1 oz of sloe gin and 1 oz of regular gin.  The Guardian says to top it with champagne or Prosecco, rather than club soda – which sounds fabulous but also increases the amount of alcohol – if you’re trying to keep it lightweight.

2 oz. sloe gin
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
club soda (about 1/2 c)
twist of lemon (optional)

Shake the gin, lemon juice, and sugar with cracked ice in a chilled cocktail shaker. Strain into a chilled Collins glass and splash the club soda in “rather carelessly,” so that it foams.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.



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