Don’t be sloe to taste th­ese tip­ples

With the berry in sea­son, Sam Wylie-Har­ris shows you three ways to bring a sam­ple of the coun­try­side in­side

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - COCKTAILS -

If you go wild for sloe gin, now is the time to head to the hedgerows and start for­ag­ing for the small, plump pur­ple berries cur­rently weigh­ing down black­thorn bushes. Too tart to eat on their own, dis­tillers steep them in gin to cre­ate a fruit liqueur that’s sweet­ened by adding sugar or honey and then ma­tured for sev­eral months to pro­duce a jammy, tart spirit that’s most fa­mously en­joyed in a Long Ped­dler, a sim­ple mix of sloe gin and bit­ter le­mon.

Seen as an au­tum­nal tip­ple, we’ve done the hard work for you and hand-picked three batches to buy and use in cock­tails... 1. ROCK ROSE SLOE GIN FIZZ “Our sloe gin has been two years in the mak­ing — the first year of ex­per­i­ments, and the sec­ond year al­low­ing the gor­geous berries to steep in our Au­tumn Edi­tion,” says Martin Mur­ray, co-founder, Rock Rose Gin.

“The black­ber­ries and el­der­ber­ries re­ally com­ple­ment the sloes pro­vid­ing a unique taste.”

Rich and fruity with a smooth, warm­ing fin­ish, try serv­ing Scot­tish Sloe Gin (£25, 50cl, Dun­net Bay Dis­tillers) with rose­mary or black- berry, or us­ing it as the per­fect base for a less tra­di­tional sloe gin fizz. In­gre­di­ents: 50ml Rock Rose Sloe Gin, 25ml le­mon juice, 10ml sugar syrup, 1 egg white, cham­pagne. Method: Half fill a shaker with ice. Add the gin, le­mon juice, sugar syrup and egg white. Shake well and strain into a glass. Top with cham­pagne and gar­nish with a le­mon rind. 2. SIP­SMITH SLOE AND BIT­TER LE­MON Cre­ated from the back­bone of their clas­sic Lon­don Dry, Sip­smith Sloe Gin (£25, 50cl, Sip­smith) is sub­tle, com­plex and burst­ing with flavour. Vel­vety in the mouth with a bal­anced sweet­ness, we love its pur­p­ley-red colour. The berry-rich flavours can be dropped into a G&T to make a de­li­cious al­ter­na­tive to the clas­sic. Oth­er­wise, mix with le­mon. In­gre­di­ents: 50ml Sip­smith Sloe Gin, bit­ter le­mon tonic. Method: Pour all in­gre­di­ents over ice and gar­nish with le­mon peel. 3. CHASE SLOE AND BIT­TER LE­MON Wild hedgerow sloe berries from Here­ford­shire and the ul­ti­mate for­got­ten fruit, mul­ber­ries, are gen­tly mac­er­ated in Chase GB gin and then oak-aged in Rhone Val­ley red wine casks to cre­ate sweet notes of ripe black­cur­rants, red­cur­rants, stone fruit and a rich botan­i­cal com­plex­ity for Chase Sloe & Mul­berry Gin (£30, 50cl, Chase Dis­tillery). Smooth and rich with cas­sis and plummy stone fruits, its sweet­ness is bal­anced by a touch of tart­ness with a long fin­ish and sub­tle oaky un­der­tones. In­gre­di­ents: 50ml Chase Sloe & Mul­berry Gin, bit­ter le­mon tonic. Method: Pour all in­gre­di­ents over ice and gar­nish with le­mon peel. Keen to make your own sloe gin? Here’s how... Once you’ve picked your sloes, we sug­gest this home­made sloe gin needs at least three months to ma­ture, so it is best en­joyed in Jan­uary. In­gre­di­ents: 75ml ster­il­ized bot­tle, 100g white sugar, 1 bot­tle of your favourite gin, plenty of sloe berries. Method: Pour clean, washed sloes into the bot­tle to around the 7cm mark — some say to prick the berries or freeze them first, ei­ther method is op­tional — and add in the white sugar, top with gin. Over the fol­low­ing weeks, gen­tly tip the bot­tle up from time to time to dis­solve the sugar slowly. Keep out of di­rect sun­light and pat your­self on the back when you pour the first glass.

BERRY NICE: Chase Sloe Gin and bit­ter le­mon is just one of the fan­tas­tic com­bi­na­tions to try this au­tumn

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