How bad had sloe gin’s reputation gotten? Bartenders stopped using it as the principal ingredient in the drink named after it.
It would have tasted a damn sight better than the decades’ worth of sloe gin fizzes poured during Spring Breaks from South Padre to Myrtle Beach. The sloe gin of 1898 was not the sloe gin of more recent vintage. As recounted in the epic post about the Millionaire (read it, it’s funny), sloe berries are small, plum-like fruits with a taste that is aggressively, almost brutally tart. Most contemporary sloe gins were over-sweetened to compensate, rendering the liqueur suitable only for the most cloying of cocktails. Recipes for the sloe gin fizz took this sad state of affairs into account, recommending that the drink contain equal parts sloe and traditional gin. Should you somehow acquire authentic sloe gin, you’re advised, by all means use it on its own. But good luck making that happen.
Luck is no longer required. (OK, maybe a little is. Read the Millionaire post.) Plymouth has made a sloe gin commercially available that is true to the spirit’s spirit. Long-forgotten libations like the Charlie Chaplin are once again viable. What does it do for its namesake cocktail?
For the more modern version, I paired Plymouth Sloe Gin with the company’s signature gin. Smooth, drier than most London gins and lighter on botanicals, it’s fantastic in martinis and Gibsons. To no one’s surprise, I preferred this version, and not (just) because it’s boozier. The sloe berries still make their presence felt, but the addition of gin gives the drink a stronger foundation. Both have ample charms. Either will banish poorly made poolside sloe gin fizzes from memory.
One last note: the few sloe gin fizz recipes that still call for egg white note that this ingredient is optional. I opted out. I’ve made enough egg white drinks lately, and this one works better as a summer cooler without it. Technically, including the egg white makes it a silver sloe gin fizz. Use this tidbit to impress your bartender!
The Sloe Gin Fizz
1 oz. Plymouth sloe gin
1 oz. gin
¾ oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. simple syrup
several ozs. club soda
Combine the first four ingredients. Shake. Strain into a chilled Collins glass. Top with club soda. For a more traditional version, omit the gin and use 2 oz. Plymouth sloe gin.
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