One of the products I want to jump into R&D for as soon as we get the distillery open is my own spin on a classic sloe gin! Sloe gin, or sloe gin liqueur as it’s sometimes referred to, is gin that has been allowed to sit with sloe berries for days, weeks or even months. Sloe berries are tiny, very tart (rather unpleasant tasting, actually) berries that grow in hedges all over England. Once the distiller has a finished gin, he or she dumps a whole mess of berries into the spirit and allows them to steep for a period of time and not only do they impart a lovely earthy, tart flavor but also turn the gin a stunning dark cranberry color. Because the sloe berries are naturally tart and rather astringent on their own, a small amount of sugar may be added after the berries are strained out and before bottling.
As you might imagine sloe berries are very difficult to find in the states, however, a few American distillers have managed to either grow, find or import the tart tiny fruit and take their own stab at the British classic. My personal favorite stateside rendition is by Spirit Works in Sebastopol, CA. Their Sloe Gin and barrel-aged Sloe Gin are some of the most successful American takes on traditional spirits I’ve tasted. If you happen to spot either, definitely pick up a bottle! A classic (and probably the most easily accessible) Sloe Gin would be Plymouth Sloe Gin, another excellent choice.
Obviously the Brits were on to something taking a borderline inedible fruit and soaking it in booze to make it palatable, but theoretically the method could be adapted for any type of berry. Sloe-style gin with local San Diego strawberries, anyone?! 😉 Or in today’s post’s case, raspberries! I had a couple gallons or so of a less-than-successful R&D gin run and was thinking of ways I could repurpose it without running it back through the still (to completely neutralize). The only issue with the gin was that the rose hip was overpowering all the other botanicals, but otherwise it was completely drinkable. An underrated flavor pairing – imo – is raspberry and rose, so I decided to dump the pint of forgotten raspberries from the back of my crisper drawer into the rose hip heavy gin and see what happened. Spoiler alert: what happened was delicious and beautiful! And the best part is you don’t have to be a distiller to have your own sloe-style gin at home. Just take whatever gin you have (or vodka), throw in your berries of choice, and let it steep! I let mine go for a few weeks but taste every few days until your desired flavor profile is achieved. More info on the process below.
This cocktail is a seriously delicious way to enjoy any type of sloe gin. The muddled raspberries and lemon juice create the most luxurious layer of creamy foam on top and the color, omg. It’s just so good. Use a traditional sloe gin and this transforms from a refreshing summer cocktail to a rich and complex fall tipple. Enjoy!
Raspberry Rose Hip Gin Lemonade. Makes 1 drink.
- 5 raspberries
- 2 oz raspberry rose hip gin (recipe to follow), can substitute with your favorite Sloe Gin
- 3 oz fresh honey lemonade (recipe to follow), can substitute with your favorite store bought lemonade
- Muddle 4 raspberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker
- Add gin, lemonade and ice.
- Shake for ten seconds, strain into a glass over fresh ice
- Garnish with remaining raspberry and enjoy!
Raspberry Rose Hip Gin: Gently muddle one 6 oz. clamshell of organic raspberries with a heaping tablespoon of dried culinary rose hips (I get mine my local home brew shop). Add 25-30 oz. of your favorite gin, seal and shake vigorously. Store in a cool dry place for two weeks or longer, shaking daily. When the flavor is to your liking, strain and discard solids.
Fresh Honey Lemonade: Combine 1 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 cup honey simple syrup (1/2 cup each honey and water, simmered over low heat until homogeneous), and 2-3 cups cold filtered water. Stir or shake to combine.