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kvltrede

Sloe Gin?

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There was a somewhat interesting article in the NYTimes last week. Beyond the tired but still-welcome "rebirth of the cocktail" rehash the article spent some inches on NY bars that prefer to use and promote little-known, altogether forgotten and low-hype spirits:

...'We have a specific philosophy about brands, and it's that they don't matter at all,'' said Sasha Petraske, the owner of Milk & Honey and Little Branch, and a consultant to bars like Double Seven. ''The ice and the juice in a cocktail are far more important. The whole premium vodka thing is too ridiculous to even talk about.''

Audrey Saunders, the owner of the Pegu Club, agreed.

''I believe that all of the great bottles have already been produced,'' she said. ''If you understand your ingredients and how to bring balance into your cocktails, you don't need any of the new and improved products.''

Ms. Saunders is determined to resurrect such forgotten spirits as pisco, Madeira, Chartreuse herbal liqueur (''Only three monks know the recipe for it!''), maraschino liqueur, sloe gin, rhum agricole from the French Caribbean islands and Laird's AppleJack from New Jersey. When a customer once requested Jack Daniel's, a bartender had to hunt through the storeroom to locate a bottle....

Obviously the mention of sloe gin in the list of spirits Audrey hopes to resurrect is what caught my eye. I immediately wondered what brand of sloe gin made the cut at Pegu Club or if they made their own. Have any of you lucky, lucky people who've been there had a sloe gin drink there or seen a bottle behind the bar? I've never tried either the DuBouchett or DeKuyper bottlings but my guess is that neither spends much time, if any, in proximity to actual sloe berries and, as such, I doubt either bottling can be found at Pegu Club.

Which brings up another question: is there such a thing as a good commercially available sloe gin? I know Plymouth makes one and that it's supposed to be good (or at least made with actual sloe berries) but I've never seen it in the Midwest. Googling seems to turn up only links to homemade sloe gin recipes, drink recipes, the DuB and DeK bottlings and UK-based sites. Apparently, sloe gin is taken somewhat more seriously over there.

This is hardly a pressing issue but I'm curious. Any sloe gin lovers or likers here? Anyone make their own?

Thanks.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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Nothing to add, but I second the inquiry. While visiting NY earlier this year, I was treated to a damned near religious experience when I enjoyed a sloe gin fizz at the Flatiron Lounge. I'd love to know where to get (or how to make) the real thing, as I also suspect that the Dekuyper's bottling isn't even worth consideration.


In vino veritas.

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i448.jpg

Its in my eGCI unit on "Autumn and Festive Preserves", about halfway down.

Actually shown is Damson Gin, but Sloe Gin is identical, except with sloes.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=30785

The trick is to freeze the sloes first, then pour the gin on the frozen sloes (and sugar). This cracks the skin allowing the gin to penetrate and the flavour to come out without the traditional tedium of piercing them with a silver bodkin.

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The only commercially produced real sloe gin -- which is to say, gin infused with sloe berries and sweetened -- of which I am aware is made by Plymouth. Sadly, it is currently not imported into the United States, although we hear that it may be coming to the US within the next year or so. Those of us who have had the opportunity to try some of the Plymouth product can attest to its excellence.

The "sloe gin flavored liqueurs" made by the likes of Leroux and DeKuyper are syrupy abominations not worthy of the name sloe gin.


--

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I have hear that the Plymouth Sloe gin is the best. And from barkeeps that have fixed me a cocktail, they prefer a sloe gin sour, or just the slightest amount of fizz.

2.0 Oz. Plymouth

.75 Oz. Lemon Juice

.50 Oz. Simple Syrup

.50 Oz. Sloe Gin

.50 Oz. Soda (Optional)

Egg White

Shake everything hard with big, cold chunks of ice but the Soda and the Sloe Gin. Strain into a chilled Cocktail Glass. Float Sloe Gin.


A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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Plymouth also makes a Damson Gin, which I guess is made from a slightly sweeter member of the plum family.

Making sloe gin is not hard at all; but, I have no idea what commercially available American plum or plum-like fruit would come closest to Sloes (Blackthorn fruit).

I do know the Blackthorn bush (Prunus spinosa) is considered a thorny weed in some areas of the US.

Damsons are Prunus domestica or Prune Plums.

A typical stone fruit liqueur recipe would be:

Steep 2 pounds of whole washed, stemmed, and pierced fruit in 4 cups of liquor in a sterilized, sealed jar for a month or so. The addition of the zest of a lemon and maybe some spices would not be uncommon. Filter through cheese cloth and sweeten to taste with 2-1 simple syrup. Age another month in sealed containers. Filter again through coffee filters and bottle.

Edited to say, I didn't see jackal10's post above or his course when it was published. Cool stuff! Maybe I use too much fruit in my liqueurs.


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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...Its in my eGCI unit on "Autumn and Festive Preserves", about halfway down.  Actually shown is Damson Gin, but Sloe Gin is identical, except with sloes.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=30785....

Wow. That is an amazing and informative thread, Jack, and your photos are fantastic (likewise the Preservations Basics thread). Great, great stuff. Thanks for the link and the info.

Kurt


Edited by kvltrede (log)

“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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However, my (admittedly brief) search didn't turn up any indication that sloe berries are grown here.

Kurt,

According to plants.usda.gov, Blackthorn's range in the US includes the NE, NW, Michigan, Tennesee, and Missouri.

Blackthorn

More info on the plant.

Even more info.

I could be wrong; but, I don't think blackthorn is really grown commercially anywhere. It's a very spiny plant, and the fruit is small, tart and bitter.

It is too bad Plymouth doesn't export these products to the US (or their Fruit Cup or Navy Strength gin).


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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It is too bad Plymouth doesn't export these products to the US (or their Fruit Cup or Navy Strength gin).

Oh, believe me... it's not because they don't want to, or for lack of trying. It's astounding how long it takes to bring a product into the US.

Oh... and while you're making a wish list, don't forget Plymouth's damson gin. One of my favorite cocktologists made me some silver gin sours with a garnish of bitters and a float of this damson gin. Delightful.


--

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Oh, believe me... it's not because they don't want to, or for lack of trying.  It's astounding how long it takes to bring a product into the US.

Oh... and while you're making a wish list, don't forget Plymouth's damson gin.  One of my favorite cocktologists made me some silver gin sours with a garnish of bitters and a float of this damson gin.  Delightful.

Sam,

Cocktologist? Not sure I would want to chance calling a bartender a "cocktologist". Though, certainly, in some San Francisco neighborhoods, the term might well be embraced.

:raz:

What are the components of a Silver Gin Sour? White Lady type thing?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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What are the components of a Silver Gin Sour?  White Lady type thing?

Gin sour is just gin plus sugar plus lemon juice.

"Silver" means that it has egg white.


--

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Chuck Taggart mentions Plymouth Sloe Gin in his blog today. Scroll down a bit to read it. In short, Chuck likes it. He also mentions that Dr. Cocktail, Ted Haigh, suggests the Mohawk Sloe Gin as an acceptable domestic sub. Go figure.

So, how did Chuck manage to scare up a bottle of the Plymouth? Apparently he took the plunge and ordered it from RoyalMileWhisky.co.uk. The prices and selection are good but the shipping's a killer so, for now, no sloe gin for me.

No Pikesville Rye for me either. Yes, you read that correctly: one can order Pikesville Rye from Royal Mile. It may be nearly impossible to find in the States but easy as pie if you're willing to have it shipped from overseas. Again, go figure.

Kurt


“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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I recently made a sloe gin fizz out of boredom the other day just to try it. I was surprised to find it wasn't at all bad, if not terribly exiting, despite using bols sloe gin that's probably older than me. I did notice that most of the imported gin producers (plymouth, gordon's, et. al.) make a sloe gin, I haven't seen one availiable here. No one even seems to know what I'm talking about. Is there a higher quality sloe gin than bols/dekyper/leroux availiable in the US? I was hoping for a Marie Brizzard solution, but I don't see that either. The second question is, am I wasting my time? I unfortunately don't have to time to experiment with making my own, or I would give that a go.

Sean


Edited by Snowy is dead (log)

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I'm curious about this as well. Here in Texas, Spec's has Bols, Dekuyper, Hiram Walker and Gaetano. Which of these would be the best?

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The only real commercial sloe gin (which is to say, lightly sweetened gin infused with sloe berries) of which I am aware is made by Plymouth. It is not available in the US yet, although they are working on bringing it in (red tape abounds).


--

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The main challenge with making sloe gin is getting the sloes.

If on the other hand, you are content with something like Damson Gin, and can come across some nice, flavorful, organic black plums, it isn't hard at all.

Wash and freeze plums, steep plums in gin for a month with sugar. Strain out the plums and bottle. That's all there is to it. Maybe a half an hour on each end.

Jackal10 has step by step instructions here:

Autumn and Festive Preserves

I made one last year and it turned out really well.

I'd like to try with Pluots this year.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I heard that a batch of Plymouth sloe gin is being steeped for the US market as we speak...

...the timing might be January / February 08.

...and that a popular restaurant chain had already approached them to snatch up 30,000 cases of it.

Audrey

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30,000 cases is an awful lot of anything. I can already hear the impending footsteps of doom of the sloetini or fizzini.

here are some of the ones I found, nothing in US of course.

http://www.drinksdirect.co.uk/acatalog/Gordons_Sloe_Gin.html

http://www.comparestoreprices.co.uk/gin/un...50cl-bottle.asp

Some brand named mohawk also keeps popping up, but I think it might be defunct.

It doesn't sound that hard to make. Is there going to be a large difference between using the sloe berries and the plums? I've never even seen a sloe berry, so I have no point of reference.

Thanks

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Difference between Damsons or other small dark plums and sloes is not enough to be significant if you are going to mess with Gin sugar and fizz. US gin is in any case sweeter.

Sloes (blackthorn) are wild and hence free, which is why they were used. If you have not tried one before, be sure to taste a raw one. You will be amazed!


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Sloes are the tiny bitter fruit of a plant in the plum family called the Blackthorn bush (Prunus spinosa).

They aren't really sold commercially.

I recently learned they make a liqueur similar to sloe gin in Spain. It's called Patxaran.

However, instead of being on a Gin base, it is made on an Anisette base.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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US gin is in any case sweeter.

I don't quite understand this comment? Are you saying US sloe gin is sweeter than UK sloe gin? Because that is certainly true, as there is no real sloe gin currently available in the US. Until Plymouth becomes available, we have only disgusting "sloe gin liqueurs" that bear about as much resemblance to the real thing as mass-market "grenadine" does to real pomegranate grenadine. If you're saying that "London" dry gin -- as exemplified by Tanqueray, Beefeater, Junìpero, etc. -- sold and/or manufactured in the US is sweeter than "London" dry gin sold and/or manufactured in the UK, that's nonsense.


--

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I don't know but my impression is that, for example Gordons Gin is different in the US ands the UK. It may, of course be the Schweppes tonic, but a G+T in the US is not the same as the same drink with the same brands as in the UK. Its too sweet. Disgusting in fact

Many brands vary the formula with geographical location or local factory

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As far as I know, the main difference between Gordon's in the US and Gordon's in the UK is that the former is 40% abv and the latter is only 37.5% abv. All that means is that there is more water in the UK bottle than the US bottle. I doubt there is any other difference.

I'm not sure that I think any brand of gin varies the formula by geographical location. The proof may vary, but that is not the same thing as the formula. Gordon's does appear to be manufactured in multiple geographical locations (all apparently former British territories), but from one recipe. I'm not sure that brands like Tanqueray, Plymouth, Beefeater, Boodles, etc. are substantially produced in multiple locations. In any event, the US versions are all "imported from the UK" (although, interestingly, they are often bottled in the US -- which means that giant tankers of gin must cross the ocean).

Anyway, in order for the gin to be responsible for the cloying sweetness you find in a US Gin and Tonic, the US version of Gordon's would have to be practically syrup coming out of the bottle. It's much more likely that the tonic water is responsible (and, indeed, most tonic water available over here is disgustingly sweet -- which has opened the door for specialty products like Q Tonic and Fever Tree).


--

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The main challenge with making sloe gin is getting the sloes.

If on the other hand, you are content with something like Damson Gin, and can come across some nice, flavorful, organic black plums, it isn't hard at all. 

Wash and freeze plums, steep plums in gin for a month with sugar.  Strain out the plums and bottle.  That's all there is to it.  Maybe a half an hour on each end.

Jackal10 has step by step instructions here:

Autumn and Festive Preserves

I made one last year and it turned out really well.

I'd like to try with Pluots this year.

Any recommendations for what brand of gin to use in making your own Damson Gin? I'm picking up some damsons next weekend, so I'd like to have the gin already on hand by then. Keeping in mind that almost all of the gin available in Ontario is at 40% abv (excluding Plymouth, at 41.2%, and Tanqueray No. 10 and Hendrick's, which I'm not shelling out for). Would Plymouth be my best bet?


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Yeah, the main problem I see between American and English Gins, is that even though the standard English gins are at 37.5%, they have high test (Navy, etc.) available for liqueurs.

But, yeah, if Plymouth is available and reasonable, it worked well for me last year.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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